Campaigns for the Nguu/Masumba Ward by-election in Makueni County have intensified, with allies of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka in the region sensationally dragging President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga into the contest.
The seat fell vacant in June following Harris Ngui’s death in a road accident on Mombasa-Nairobi highway.
Wiper’s Eshio Mwaiwa is battling it out with Daniel Musau of UDA and Timothy Maneno, an Independent candidate. Although Mr Maneno is supported by, among others, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and Machakos Chief of Staff Mwengi Mutuse, several allies of Wiper politicians see Mr Odinga’s hand in his campaign, opening the lid on the deep-seated mistrust between Mr Odinga’s and Mr Musyoka’s lieutenants.
“This is not a contest between Mr Mwaiwa, Mr Musau and Mr Maneno. It’s a supremacy battle between Mr Musyoka, Deputy President William Ruto and Mr Odinga,” Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo said on the campaign trail on Wednesday.
He was accompanied by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior, all Wiper MPs in the county and several Wiper MCAs, who made similar allegations.
They alluded to the apparent soft spot Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua has had for Mr Odinga. During the Kibra Constituency by-elections two years ago, Dr Mutua and Prof Kibwana rallied behind ODM candidate Imran Okoth, as Mr Musyoka dithered.
On Sunday, the three camps mounted spirited fights to win the October 14 poll.
Former Kenya Medical Training College Board Chairman Philip Kaloki, who is rooting for Mr Mwaiwa, exuded confidence that the candidate will carry the day even as Wiper MPs said the outcome of the October 14 by-election will make or break Mr Musyoka’s political fortunes.
Kaiti MP Joshua Kimilu said the President was banking on the poll outcome to fine-tune his 2022 succession plan. “The President is keen on knowing who will carry the day so that he settles on his 2022 succession plan.”
Mr Maneno’s campaign team gave the allegations by Wiper a wide berth. The team held roadside rallies, where they marketed the former Nguu/Masumba MCA and councillor in the defunct Makueni County Council as best placed to replace Ngui.
“For the little time remaining, we need a ward representative who is experienced and who can work closely with Governor Kibwana to speed up development in this region,” Mr Mutuse said.
Mr Musau’s team has intensified campaigns, which entail meeting groups and distributing water tanks and foodstuffs.
Erstwhile Kalonzo ally James Mbaluka, but now his harshest critic, is leading the campaign.
“The by-election is about providing residents with an opportunity to pick the most suitable leader, who will advance their development agenda but not redeeming the dwindling political fortunes of Mr Musyoka,” he said.