Jubilee, ODM pull tribal card in last-minute Kibra contest
Hillary Mageka and Benard Gitau
Two leading political parties in the November 7 Kibra by-election have pulled a tribal card in a last-minute ditch to woo voters.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Jubilee Party (JP) have targeted the Luhya vote to tip the balance in favour of their candidates.
The race is now being billed as supremacy contest between Orange party leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto, who both campaigned for their candidates yesterday.
Bernard Imran Okoth (ODM), McDonald Mariga (Jubilee), Eliud Owalo (ANC), Butichi Khamisi (Ford Kenya) and Editar Ochieng (Ukweli Party) are among the candidates in the by-election occasioned by the death of former area MP Ken Okoth.
To underscore the significance of the Luhya vote, Raila and Ruto led their troops to woo support from the community. Musalia Mudavadi has been campaigning for his candidate Owalo while Senator Moses Wetang’ula is backing Butichi. On Saturday, Mudavadi’s vehicle was pelted with stones by rowdy youth at Kamkunji grounds as he campaigned for Owalo.
Over weekend, ODM deputy Party Leader and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya camped in the area to sell Imran to the community. Jubilee’s Mariga, who hails from the community, also enjoys support of some influential Luhya MPs.
Jubilee Party which enjoys dominance support in Woodley/Kenyatta Golf Course ward has sought the help of area Ward Rep Mwangi Njihia and MPs Charles Njagua (Starehe), Mwangi Gakuya (Embakasi North) and Nixon Korir (Langata) and Didmus Barasa (Kiminini) to deliver the Agikuyu and Luhya votes, respectively.
The ODM has entrusted Oparanya, party secretary-general Edwin Sifuna, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, George Aladwa (Makadara), Tim Wanyonyi (Westlands) and nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi to deliver the community’s vote to Imran.
The Raila Odinga-led party has also tapped the services of veteran politician Fred Gumo to cement the Luhya vote.
Ruto and Raila on Sunday urged the community to vote for their “their son” at a time the country is seeking unity.
DP Ruto, who campaigned for Mariga, urged voters, especially the Luhya community to vote the party candidate saying he stood a better a chance of addressing the problems that have bedevilled the constituency.
“It is now or never, this Kibra must be transformed, and the time is now,” he told residents of Lindi ward on Sunday.
“In the upcoming Kibra by-elections, you have that chance to rewrite the history of Kenya by electing a person with the party that has formed the government and that is Macdonald Mariga”.
Ruto, who spoke as the ODM leader Raila led parallel campaigns at Laini Saba Grounds, said their competitors must stop violence and chaos and focus on selling their ideas and manifesto to the people.
“We want to tell them that ‘Wakenya wamekuwa werevu sana hakuna mjinga Kenya’ they must stop violence and sell their ideas,” he said.
The DP was accompanied by MPs Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Nimrod Mbai (Kitui East), John Kiarie (Dagoretti South), Benard Shinali (Ikolomani), Rehema Jaldesa (Isiolo Woman Representative).
Others were Charles Njagua (Starehe), Nixon Korir (Langat), Vincent Musyoka (Mwala), Mwangi Gakuya (Embakasi North), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and gospel musician Roy Smith Mwita alias Rufftone.
On the other hand, Raila who crisscrossed the area to drum up support for Imran said Kibra was the face of Kenya where all tribes co-exist, adding that those campaigning on tribal cards are retrogressive leaders.
“I am here to tell Luhyas that we have fronted Imran us our candidate. If you vote for him, you have voted me in. If you do not want to vote for Imran then vote for me,” he said in rallies held at Kamukunji and Bukhungu grounds.
He dismissed Imran opponents’ as ‘visitors’ who cannot articulate Kibra issues comprehensively. Raila was accompanied by some Luhya leaders led by Oparanya, Malala, Osotsi, Aladwa, Sifuna and Gumo.
“I am here to speak with Luhyas and as their spokesman, we have decided to support Imran. Ignore the others who are dividing Luhyas, we are in ODM,” Oparanya said.
He accused Mudavadi and Wetang’ula of disrespecting Raila, who has previously supported them and appointed them in government.
Malala who was elected on ANC ticket broke ranks with the Mudavadi-led party and vowed to support Imran.
“I am the most senior candidate in ANC and I am here to support Imran. As a party, we did not agree to support Eliud Owalo and therefore Mudavadi’s move is against the majority of members,” he said.
Gumo, who has been away from politics, warned Kibra residents that rejecting Imran would be a coup against Odinga.
“I have been away from politics but when you see me here, things are not okay. This vote is a coup against Raila. Here in Nairobi there are some seats for specific people and Kibra belongs to Baba,” he said.