Why friendly fire might cost DP Ruto votes in Kakamega

Cleophas Malala

Kakamega senator Cleophas Malala (centre) at a past event. He has expressed fear that zoning will cost DP Ruto votes in the region.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Sibling rivalry between the UDA and ANC parties in Kakamega is threatening the unity of the Kenya Kwanza alliance as members jostle to popularise their candidates ahead of the August 9 polls.

The most affected areas are Butere, Mumias East, Matungu and Mumias West constituencies and Sabatia in Vihiga County, where Kenya Kwanza has parliamentary candidates from both UDA and ANC.

In Butere, Michael Keya (UDA) is facing off with Habil Nanjendo (ANC); Alex Lanya (ANC) and Paul Posho (UDA) in Matungu; Rashid Echesa (UDA) and Jackline Okanya (ANC) in Mumias West; and David Wamatsi (ANC) and Benjamin Mapwoni (UDA) in Mumias East.

Senator Cleophas Malala, the Kenya Kwanza governor candidate in Kakamega, is at loggerheads with Senate aspirant Boni Khalwale and Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali.

Mr Malala is contesting under Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC, while Mr Khalwale is a member of UDA. Mr Washiali, who has quit elective politics and will not defend his seat, is a member of UDA and heads the DP’s campaign team in the Western region.

Mr Khalwale and Mr Washiali have chosen to drum up support for UDA candidates against others in Dr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza team.

Chaos erupted at Isongo Secondary School on Saturday, culminating in a fistfight between supporters of Mr Wamatsi and those of Mr Mapwoni after Mr Khalwale and Mr Washiali campaigned for their candidate (Mr Mapwoni) but stopped Mr Malala from campaigning for the ANC candidate, Mr Wamatsi.

Mr Washiali, who endorsed Mr Mapwoni as the UDA parliamentary candidate, argued that as long as their candidate has met all the requirements, they are bound to support him.

“Our supporters should note that the alliances are not meant in any way to kill our parties. There is no specific candidate for Kenya Kwanza because the candidates, including the presidential candidate, have come from political parties which merged to birth the alliance,” said Mr Washiali.

Malala: zoning is bad

Mr Malala observed that if their alliance resorts to zoning, it might work against their victory.

“There is a need for us in Kenya Kwanza to work as a team. If we continue this way, we stand to lose this county to Azimio,” said Mr Malala.

He said despite each party fielding candidates for various seats, voters should decide the fate of the contenders instead of parties in the same coalition jostling against each other.

He regretted that UDA was undermining ANC in the Western region to the extent that it had fielded a parliamentary candidate in Mr Mudavadi’s Sabatia constituency.

“If this is the way to go, then our coming together is deception,” Mr Malala said.

The tussle between the three senior politicians is likely to complicate Kenya Kwanza campaigns in the region against a pending target of 70 per cent vote target for Mr Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula to merit a 30 per cent stake in the government if Dr Ruto becomes President.

Mr Khalwale and Mr Malala have taken their campaigns to rural voters in Kakamega’s 12 sub-counties.

If the DP’s lieutenants sink into sibling rivalry, the region, which voted overwhelmingly for ODM in previous elections, may end up under the dominance of Azimio.

Mr Malala is facing off with Azimio’s Fernandes Barasa under ODM, Suleiman Sumba (Kanu) and Samuel Omukoko (MDP) in the governor’s race.

In the Senate race are Mr Khalwale, Brian Lishenga (ODM) and Asha Ngaira (Kanu).

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