Race for Machakos governor lays ground for titanic tussle

Thursday, August 19th, 2021 00:00 | By
Wavinya Ndeti.

A titanic battle is shaping up in Machakos County as key politicians position themselves to succeed Alfred Mutua, who is serving his final term, as governor in next year’s General Election.

The seat has so far attracted Mutua’s deputy Francis Maliti, former Machakos senator Johnstone Muthama, Machakos Town MP Victor Munyaka, Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Wavinya Ndeti, Machakos County Assembly Speaker Florence Mwangangi, Mavoko MP Patrick Makau and lawyer Joel Mbaluka. 

While Maliti hopes to use his boss’ Maendeleo Chap Chap party ticket to vie, three aspirants are jostling to secure the ticket of Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement party.

Maliti is banking on Mutua’s support base and their government’s development record.

For instance, Maliti, who also doubles up as the Finance Executive Committee Member, expects to endear himself to voters by citing, among others, tax policies introduced by the county to cushion low income earners, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis.

“As Mutua’s deputy, I have learnt from the best. I am ready and willing to work with all stakeholders to deliver the dream of a prosperous county through consultations and team spirit,” he said.

Observers say Maliti must, however, brace for stiff competition from a Wiper candidate.

Count me in

All indications are that Wavinya, who unsuccessfully ran for the seat in 2013 and 2017 on a Wiper ticket, is in the 2022 race.

The former Kathiani MP retained her ground troops even after losing the petition to overturn Mutua’s win in the 2017 election in a court battle which went all the way to the Supreme Court.

She recently told the media to ignore claims by her opponents that she will not run for the seat next year.

“Right now I am occupied with the job President Uhuru Kenyatta gave me and the priority now is to serve the Kenyan people as CAS.

However, I wish to make it clear that I will be in the race for governor come 2022 and I urge my supporters to remain focused and finish this journey with me,” she said.

Wavinya shrugged off talk that she was being edged out of Kalonzo’s inner circle by Assembly Speaker Mwangangi.

“It is important that people learn to do mature campaigns and avoid name-dropping to attract attention,” she said.

Political analyst Phillipe Sadja argues that Wavinya should consider negotiating for a national government position after the 2022 election or secure another party’s ticket, saying she had fierce rivals in Wiper.

Mwangangi, a former member of the Judicial Service Commission, has intensified her campaigns to succeed Mutua.

The seasoned lawyer has been quietly building political networks across constituencies, mainly with the help of MCAs.

Mwangangi’s ambitions for the county’s top seat came to light in 2017 when Mutua was fighting at the Supreme Court to retain his seat.

At the time, Mwangangi oversaw the escalation of hostilities between the county Legislature and the Executive.

She accused Mutua’s administration of operating outside the law especially in appointment of some of the county executive committee members.

However, the two later mended fences and agreed to work together.

Key Kalonzo allies have sent strong signals that Mwangangi could be the preferred Wiper candidate. 

“If you see some of us working with Madam Speaker, we know what we are doing.

We are doing so with the blessings of the party,” said a Wiper party politician who requested anonymity.

Makau, who whose Mavoko constituency is the most populous  in the county, is confident that he has the numbers to win the seat.

“The power belongs to the people who we serve. I have no doubt that I have served the people with honesty and dedication for the two terms I have been MP and I am certain the voters will vindicate me,” Makau told the media during a recent function in Mlolongo.

Muthama and Munyaka have had minimal activities in the grassroots although their names are being mentioned in the gubernatorial contest.

Muthama declaration

During Deputy President Willam Ruto’s meeting with small-scale business owners last month in Machakos, he said he was ready to sponsor Munyaka – who is serving his third term as MP – for governor next year. 

“I concur with those who are pushing for Munyaka to contest the governership.

When a pupil completes Class Eight, he is supposed to join Form One. Even if he lacks fees, we will fundraise for him to join Form One,” said Ruto.

Muthama, who is the UDA national chairman, was conspicuously missing in the DP’s tour of Machakos.

The following day, he declared on twitter that he will be running for Machakos governorship. 

“Since 2017 when I took a break from active politics, I have been receiving delegates requesting me to get back to political leadership.

Some of their concerns include but are not limited to having the right candidate for the Machakos gubernatorial contest in the 2022 general election, therefore if the wish of Machakos county electorate is to serve them, then I have accepted their will,” he tweeted.

Mbaluka says his first five years as governor would focus on lifting the living standards of residents through reduction of taxes on small businesses, creation of employment opportunities and support of local talents. 

“We need to elect people to manage our lives using the taxes that we pay. This county needs a good leader who will do what the people want and not a person who will lie to the people,” he said.

He added: “A governor should be hands-on person not an ivory tower person who delegates everything only to complain later when services are not delivered.” 

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