Will Young Turks unseat the Kakamega old guard?
The careers of many seasoned leaders in Kakamega county are on the line, owing to a wave of change caused by new entrants to politics.
Many senior politicians are battling for seats with Young Turks, and a number of them are doing badly. They include Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malalah, Lugari MP Ayub Savula and Deputy Governor Philip Kutima, who are both eyeing the governorship.
The entry into the race by former Kenya Electricity Transmission Company chief executive Fernandes Barasa, who is making his debut in politics, has ruffled many feathers.
Yesterday, analysts were relishing the moment they would see old politicians relegated to the backseat after the August 9 polls.
“Many of these leaders have been around for many years and have become household names. The outcome of the August 9 elections will have great impact on politics and leadership of this county,” said Prof. Amukowa Anangwe, a political scientist.
Similar to 1997 polls
Anangwe likened the forthcoming polls to those of 1997 when the careers of many veteran politicians from Western Kenya ended.
Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale is seeking to reclaim the seat he held between 2013 and 2017.
He became a household name after he vied for the Ikolomani parliamentary seat in 1997 but lost to then MP Joseph Mugalla, before eventually dethroning him in 2002.
He has been in the political cold since losing the governorship seat to Wycliffe Oparanya in 2017.
But he is facing the fight of his life, following a stiff challenge from Brian Lishenga, a fellow medic who is making his first stab at elective politics.
Lishenga is vying on a ODM ticket under Azimio La Umoja movement while Khalwale is in UDA (Kenya Kwanza). If the former senator fails to reclaim the seat, his goose could be as good as cooked.
“It is the battle of a lifetime for Khalwale because it will determine his political future, including his ambitions of being the governor in future,” said Desterio Okumu, a political commentator from the county. Recently, Khalwale bowed out of the gubernatorial race in favour of Malalah. Woman Rep Elsie Muhanda is also working hard to retain the seat amid tough competition from, among others, former county employee Peninah Mukabane and nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga.
Mukabane and Shiyonga are seeking the elective seat for the first time.
Several MPs from the 12 constituencies, and MCAs from the 60 wards in the county, are facing similar Herculean tasks as they seek second or third terms.
In Shinyalu, longtime political nemeses Justus Kizito and Lisamula Anami, who have dominated local politics for over 15 years, are facing major battles from newcomers.
Leading the pack is businessman Fred Ikana, whom pollsters such as Synovate and Mizani-Afrika claim is in the lead. Ikolomani MP Benard Shinali is facing an onslaught from newcomers led by businessmen Vincent Mukhono and Khamisi Butichi.
Butichi vied against the MP in 2017 and his supporters believe he was rigged out.
Opted to retire
Mumias West MP Johnstone Naicca, who is seeking a third term, is facing stiff competition from former Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa and nominated MCA Jackline Okanya. His Mumias East counterpart Benjamin Washiali has opted to retire from elective politics after serving three terms.
Seasoned MCAs are also facing the heat from political freshers. They include Farouk Machanje of Isukha South, who has to duel with Kevin Muhanji; Edward Shibembe of Isukha West who is battling Silas Shiyenzi; and Isukha North’s Heleminah L’lanziva who is pitted against Collins Kubayi.
“The careers of these seasoned politicians are on the line. The August 9 General Election will be a defining moment for our county,” said Okumu.