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Why CORD is likely to win Makueni by-election despite Kethi Diana Kilonzo nullification

By - Okwaro Oscar Plato | July 9th 2013

By Okwaro Oscar Plato

The celebrated gallant lawyer Kethi Diana Kilonzo has just been thrown out of the Makueni Senatorial contest after the Nominations Dispute Resolution Committee revoked her earlier clearance by IEBC that she was not a dully registered voter but upheld the nomination of Jubilee candidate Phillip Kaloki after dismissing allegations that he was a member of more than one party.  

Kethi’s name did not appear anywhere in the IEBC registration books including the Green book. A move that has left both CORD bigwigs and Kethi’s supporter in political limbo with mixed emotions.

The Makueni by-election slotted for July 22 is likely to be the most expensive by-elections in the history of this country under the new Constitution. The contest has been down-sized to a battle of titans featuring Labour Party of Kenya’s Jane Kitundu and Party of Independent Candidates of Kenya (PICK)’s Harun Mwau and Prof Philip Kaloki of Narc under Jubilee banner.

 However, unlike those pundits who rely on last General Election to predict this month by-election, I would like to develop a hypothesis that the elections will be a three-horse race, but the real game will eventually narrow down between Jane Kitundu verses Harun Mwau. Therefore, technically, Prof Philip Kaloki is on a joy riding mission in the game. Charity Ngilu’s Narc lost terribly to Kalonzo’s Wiper and it’s unlikely that the dominance of Kalonzo can be reversed by the by-election to favour Prof Kaloki.

Kethi Kilonzo had built her reputation as a darling of Kenyans beyond Makueni during presidential petition as representative of Africog.

Therefore, if Kethi was to vie for the senatorial seat, it would have been battle between Kethi as a “brand” not CORD verses Jubilee since she had developed immunity, so strong that even as an independent candidate , she could trounce her competitors with landslide with ease.

The Makueni by-election will be a litmus test for CORD’s Raila and Kalonzo. It will determine the political future of the duo by reclaiming their lost glory after the Supreme Courts validated the election of Uhuru Kenyatta as duly elected 4th president of Kenya, but only if the tides blown in their favour to capture the seat through any CORD affiliate party.

This will leave majority of leaders from Ukambani with no option but to support probably Julia Ojiambo’s Labour Party of Kenya which has already filled a strong woman candidate Mrs Jane Kitundu who unsuccessfully run for Senatorial in the May 4, 2013 General Election.

Since it’s very unlikely for Ms Kilonzo to appeal and win her court case in time, Raila and CORD remain with the only option of rallying behind Jane Kitundu who is already registered to run on LPK ticket since the submission of documents interested individual/political parties to IEBC has already been meaning Wiper Party will not be having a candidate from Ukambani. This move is likely to entice majority of Wiper Party followers who are in CORD since Hon Julia Ojiambo’s Labour Party of Kenya (LPK) has for years amicably worked with Kalonzo Musyoka and the Kamba community.

It is LPK’s Julia Ojiambo that was Kalonzo’s ODM-K running mate in 2007 General Election when the former VP and his stalwart(s) and now MP for Makueni Daniel Maanzo refused to surrender the certificate to Raila which led to split of ODM party. Indeed, it is now time for Kalonzo and his supporters to rally behind LPK candidate to ensure CORD win the Makueni seat through Jane Kitundu to ensure CORD remain relevant. It is likely that the Makueni voters will this time go to ballot to cast protest vote against candidate who will have government backing but in favour of candidate that Wiper party and CORD will propose as alternative to Kethi.

While Kethi has met the sunset at the dawn of her political career, her nullification from contesting has definitely strengthened CORD’s support base and increased sympathy votes in the basket.  It only therefore, requires a good strategy from CORD side to play the victim card by telling the electorate how their candidate of choice has been short-changed and reason they should know vote another CORD affiliate party that has been friendly to Kamba people for long.

It is obvious that the Makueni poll will see Raila-Kalonzo come back into political scene with iron hand. But in the event CORD loses the Makueni seat of senator to Jubilee or PICK, it will portray Wiper party leaders Musyoka as weak leader who might have contributed to Raila’s predicaments in last General Election because Jubilee managed to gunner sizable votes in region which CORD perceived to be under the former VPs control.

While the race might be between CORD verses PICK, chances are that the voters turn out will be very law since the electorate is currently demoralised after their expectations hit a snug. But my humble advice to Jubilee is that the money shelved to spend in Makueni should be used to pay the striking teachers because I believe Jane Kitundu of LPK under CORD will trump to replace the late Mutula Kilonzo and become the first woman senator.

The writer is an analyst with Quadz Consulting Africa. The views expressed are for the writer.

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