August 9

Azimio, Ruto team scramble for swing vote in Kakamega

Thursday, June 30th, 2022 00:00 | By
Former Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (KETCO) CEO Fernandes Barasa. PHOTO/Courtesy

Azimio-One Kenya and Kenya Kwanza coalitions have now shifted focus to specific constituencies in Kakamega county, which they believe could produce the swing vote at the August 9 election.

Some of the constituencies are those that do not have a governor, Senate or Woman Rep candidates such as Butere, Mumias East, Mumias West, Khwisero and Likuyani.

 They cumulatively account for 301,649 votes out of the 844,481 in the entire county, according to the latest Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission figures.

 Azimio governor candidate Fernandes Barasa hails from Matungu and has picked Lugari MP Ayub Savula as his deputy.

 Kenya Kwanza’s Cleophas Malalah is from Lurambi and has a native of Navakholo, Beatrice Inyangala as running mate.

Inyangala is, however, married in Malava. Political analysts believe the figures must have contributed to his decision.

 “Malalah believes he can win in Lurambi where he calls home, then Navakholo, especially among the Batsotso clan where Inyangala comes from and to a greater extent in Malava where she is married,” Fred Wesonga, a political analyst said.

 Latest figures show Malava has 94,417 voters, Lurambi (89,627) and Navakholo (64,743), totalling to 248,787, a chunk Malalah believes he would bag.

 But Wesonga said zoning could play to the advantage of Barasa, being the formidable contestant from the Southern zone that has five constituencies, which often  vote as a bloc.

These are Butere with a voting population of 70,224, Mumias West (53,317), Mumias East (50,568 votes), Khwisero (55,091) while his home-turf of Matungu has a voting power of 73,930.

 “In addition, Barasa has a seasoned politician in Savula as his running-mate. Savula is a go-getter and has always garnered the highest number of votes as MP in the entire Kakamega,” Desterio Okumu, another analyst noted.

 But the now nicknamed ‘BaraSavula’ ticket will have to contend with former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo, who is also in the race to succeed Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

 Lugari has 86,908 voters while the neighbouring Likuyani that forms the Northern zone and where Savula is believed to enjoy substantial support has 72,449 votes. The two have a cumulative figure of 159,357.

Critical role

 Wesonga pointed out that besides  the constituencies that will determine the next governor, senator and Woman Rep, Oparanya would also play a critical role as he seeks to deliver as many seats as he can to secure a position and influence in a would-be Raila Odinga government.

 While addressing a series of rallies across the county over the weekend, Oparanya urged residents to vote for Azimio candidates right from Ward Rep to governor and Raila.

 “You heard Baba promising us the seat of CS National Treasury plus revival of the county’s economy and other goodies. What has our opponents even just lied to bring for us as the people of Kakamega, the heartbeat of the Luhya nation?” Oparanya asked.  Analysts view the sentiments as a swipe at Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford-Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula, since they are non-residents of Kakamega.

Critical role

 The governor has lately hit the campaign trail in an uncharacteristic style, particularly since a shaky relationship erupted between Malalah and Boni Khalwale, who is battling to reclaim the Senate seat, came to the fore.

 Khalwale comes from Ikolomani, which is part of Kakamega Central zone that also includes Lurambi, Shinyalu, Malava and Navakholo.

 Ikolomani has 56,229 voters while Shinyalu has 76,978. Added to Lurambi’s, Navakholo’s and Malava’s  the figures total to 381,994 votes.

However, cold blood between Malalah and his predecessor, who both hail from the Central zone, appear to have taken a beating to their joint campaigns under Kenya Kwanza.

Oparanya yesterday said he had his structures across the county and entire Western region, which would ensure victory for Azimio-One Kenya candidates.

 “My support base straddles across the county and knows nothing about zones. That is what I will ensure all our candidates leverage on to clinch as many seats as possible,” he added.

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