The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has bounced back in Kakamega County after shrugging off the nightmare of the 2017 polls in which the party lost its grip to the rival Jubilee and ANC parties.
But on August 9, 2022, things were different for ODM after it bagged nine parliamentary seats and that of the county woman representative.
This time around, ODM set in motion an onslaught to reclaim its glory in the region and campaigns by Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Woman Rep-elect Elsie Muhanda pulled off a huge victory for the Orange party.
The ODM campaigns were two-pronged.
While Governor Oparanya traversed the twelve sub-counties campaigning for the Azimio la Umoja presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga and other ODM candidates, Ms Muhanda had a different approach.
Because of her popularity among women, the ever smiling Ms Muhanda, who has been re-elected after garnering 300,426 votes, traversed the twelve sub-counties, appealing to women, men and the youthful voters to return to the ODM fold.
Win raised her profile
Her big win in the race for the woman representative’s seat has raised her profile as an upcoming and influential politician in the ODM ranks in Kakamega County and western region.
Ms Muhanda often moved crowds in her rallies by referring to herself in Luhya as “Mukhali udukha musikati” ( which, loosely translated, means “the woman who fits well in her skirt”) has managed to shake the political landscape after she defeated six other competitors who included DAP-K’s Naomi Shiyonga Masitsa, popularly known as Mama Siginal.
Ms Shiyonga, a former nominated ODM senator, garnered 67,351 votes and was closely followed by UDA’s Hadija Juma Nganyi who got 64,128 votes.
Other candidates were former broadcaster Lydia Pamela Inyangala (UDP) who got 20,245 votes, Ms Consolata Lusweti (ANC) who garnered 26,044 votes and Dr Loice Faith Agoi of Kanu who got 13,149 votes. Ms Rose Ayuma Musawa of MDP got 6,427 votes.
Mobilising support for Azimio
Ms Muhanda has cut a niche for herself in the western region’s political landscape given the role she played in mobilising support during the final Azmio la Umoja campaign rally at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega on August 3, 2022.
She has strong following among the women traders in Kakamega County because of the projects she has initiated to support their activities. She has endeared herself to boda boda riders by starting a scheme to support them by advancing loans to enable them buy motorbikes and venture into the transport business.
Ms Muhanda had helped turn the political tide in favour of ODM in Kakamega County after the debacle in 2017.
Bungled party primaries
The undoing for ODM in 2017 was triggered by the bungled party primaries in the region that backfired badly, sending the party leadership in the region smarting from the defeat.
At the time, ODM clinched the Shinyalu and Mumias West parliamentary seats while ANC carried the day in Butere, Khwisero, Lugari, Lurambi and Matungu.
On the other hand, Jubilee clinched the Ikolomani, Malava, Mumias East and Navakholo parliamentary seats while Ford Kenya clinched the Likuyani seat.
Ms Muhanda has lately played a crucial role in influencing the decision by ODM to hand over direct party tickets to MPs who decamped from ANC after its leader Musalia Mudavadi declared that he had decided to work with Deputy President William Ruto on January 23 this year.
ANC’s political haemorrhage
The move caused a political haemorrhage in the ANC party, leading to a dismal performance in the August 9 polls.
In the polls, the ANC party clinched the Malava and Shinyalu seats while DAP-K won the Mumias East seat.
In Vihiga County, Ms Betarice Adagala manged to weather the storm and recaptured her seat despite a strong showing by ODM in Mr Mudavadi’s backyard.
Ms Adagala, a close ally of Mr Mudavadi, garnered 52,507 votes while her closes challenger, Ms Violet Bagada of UDP, got 40,508 votes in the hotly contested race.
The ANC party performed dismally in Mr Mudavadi’s backyard as Governor Wilber Ottichilo of ODM recaptured the seat after defeating former governor Moses Akaranga and Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi.
Governor Ottichilo got 82,313 votes, Mr Akaranga of the Progressive Party of Kenya (42,432 votes) while Mr Agoi (ANC) garnered 26,088 votes.
Mr Mudavadi's party bagged three of the five parliamentary seats in Vihiga County. ANC carried the day in Hamisi, Vihiga and Emuhaya constituencies.
Mr Odinga beat his main rival, Dr Ruto, in Mudavadi's home turf.
Mr Odinga garnered 143,371 votes while Dr Ruto got 79,722.
Dr Ruto had, during the campaigns, asked voters in the county to give the Kenya Kwanza Alliance a 90 per cent vote.
In Mr Mudavadi's Sabatia Constituency, voters elected youthful Clement Sloya who ran on UDA ticket, beating Dr Emmanuel Ayodi. Mr Sloya got 23,925 while Dr Ayodi of ANC managed 10,539.
During the campaigns, Mr Mudavadi had prevailed on voters not to vote for non-ANC candidates.
He noted that by doing so, it would cause him embarrassment and leave him exposed.
He had further called for an ANC vote so as not to leave him naked. He noted that he needed the numbers to give him power at the negotiations table.
Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi, who fell out with Mr Mudavadi and decamped to ODM, clinched the Senate seat.