Inside Politics

Delicate balance of picking running mates in counties

Thursday, May 19th, 2022 02:16 | By
Moses Kuria
Moses Kuria. PHOTO/ File

Sharing of key seats among communities, clans and gender played a key role in the choice of running mates by governor candidates in the August 9 polls.

For instance, aspirants in Mombasa have picked individuals from the Mijikenda community, who are likely to provide the critical swing vote.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Sharrif Nassir has nominated former County Secretary Francis Thoya as his running mate in the quest to capture the Mombasa governor seat.

Nassir said his decision to settle on Thoya, a former journalist, came after extensive consultations and thorough vetting of other potential candidates.

“I interrogated the candidates based on their abilities, integrity and principles and out of them all Thoya emerged the best,” Nassir said.

Thoya left Joho’s administration in 2019 after his appointment as a director for UK’s Department for International Development.

Speaking after he was unveiled, he urged the residents to reject leaders who preach politics based on tribal and religious lines.

Similarly, former Senator Hassan Omar on Sunday declared that he will inherit businessman Suleiman Shahbal’s running mate, Selina Maitha, another Mijikenda.

In late March, Shahbal announced Maitha as his running mate before he stepped down in favour of Abdulswamad following talks by ODM leadership.

Electoral  commission data shows Mombasa has 580,223 registered voters as per 2017 register where about 50 per cent of these are said to be from the Mijikenda community distributed across all the six sub-counties.

And to expound on the vital Mijikenda vote, Pwani University lecturer Prof Halimu Shauri said: “Mijikenda are like the owners of Coast with Kwale in the South having two sub-clans; Duruma and Digo and Kilifi in the North having the rest of the seven sub-clans.”

In Nairobi, Senator Johnson Sakaja, who is flying the Kenya Kwanza flag, has settled on former Absa Bank Kenya Ltd Chief Operating Officer James Muchiri as his running mate.

 “The DG has to have the heart of the people. Someone who can easily relate to the livelihood of Nairobi residents and can relate to their daily needs and that is what I saw in Njoroge,” Sakaja said.

 Corporate background and experience was also a major factor to consider for a deputy, according to Sakaja.

 “Njoroge is a guru in the corporate world. His experience from the corporate world cannot go unrecognised and we need those skills to manage Nairobi,” he said.

Key factor

In Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya coalition, corporate guru Polycarp Igathe who is flying the outfit’s flag has settled on former Kibwezi MP Prof Phillip Kaloki as his running-mate.

 Speaking yesterday, Kaloki dismissed rumors that he had pulled out of the race after his party leader Kalonzo Musyoka decided to pull out of Azimio.

In Bungoma, Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka yesterday picked a pastor from the minority Sabaot community in Mt Elgon to be his deputy.

And in Embu, the desire to distribute seats among communities and regional balance were among the key factors that influenced the choice of running mates.

Lenny Kivuti has settled on Joseph Nyaga, who hails from Kiriari area of Manyatta constituency in upper part of Embu.

 Kivuti hails from Mbeere region in lower part of Embu.

Elders from Embu, who recently endorsed his candidature, pleaded with voters to elect him as the next governor. “We are asking our Embu people to channel their support to Lenny Kivuti, we need a leader who can be accepted across the whole county and Kivuti is the man because of his previous development record,” the elders said.

 Cecily Mbarire, who will be flying the United Democratic Alliance ticket has settled on Kinyua Mugo, former Manyatta MP aspirant.

Mugo hails from Manyatta constituency, which has the highest number of votes in the four constituencies.

 The constituency has more than 90,000 registered.

 Mbarire hails from Runyenjes.  She, however, has a task to woo Mbeere voters.  Former Manyatta MP Emilio Kathuri, who is vying on a Jubilee ticket has settled on Henry Murage from Mbeere South. Murage has been secretary for the County Development Fund for the Mbeere South constituency.

 In Kwale, governor aspirant Lung’anzi Chai Mangale named Kavwa Said Mwakaribu to be his running mate.

 Mwakaribu comes from Matuga constituency and is a former Kwale Medical Training College principal.

 In a statement, Lung’anzi said he has settled on Mwakaribu after wide consultations with his campaign team.

Rich constituency

  The naming of Mwakaribu is seen as aimed to tap the gender card as well as support from her Matuga constituency backyard, the home of another governor candidate, Wiper’s Chirau Makwere.

 Mwakaribu comes from the Digo and Lung’azi will be seeking to woo the community to rally behind him. Lung’azi hails from Duruma community.

 Power sharing between the Digo and Duruma, which dominate the county, has been a major factor in Kwale governorship contest. If the governor candidate comes from Duruma the running mate must come from Digo community and vice versa.

Deputy governor Fatuma Achani’s entry in the contest has introduced a gender factor in the contest. Achani picked Josephat Chirema Kombo, who has been an MCA for Samburu/Chengoni ward since 2013.

ODM Kwale candidate Hamadi Boga, a Digo, settled on Safina Kwekwe from the Duruma community.

Safina, the Principal Secretary, State Department for Tourism, has been more visible in the county due to her roles in government.

Boga, a former PS, will be relying on Safina’s popularity across the county to rally voters to support him.  Also in the race is Gereza Dena of  Kanu.

- Reporting by Reuben Mwambingu, Yusuf Masibo and Munira Mandano and Brian Malila

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