Battle for the Township ward votes, Murang’a county’s seat of power

Murang'a town ward battle

Supporters of Township ward contenders Charles Machigo (UDA) and Jacinta Ng'ang'a (CCK) meet in Murang'a town on August 2, 2022 as they waited for Dr William Ruto to address them.

Photo credit: Mwangi Muiruri I Nation Media Group

Murang’a town is the seat of power of the county, and the assembly seat that represents it, Township ward, is a battlefield in the search for its representative.

All county government offices, including the County Security Committee, are located in this ward and so is the county assembly and the municipal board that controls billions in World Bank (WB funding for projects.

This means that the man or woman who wins the Township ward MCA seat gains prominent stature and would be consulted on security, the WB budget and windows of opportunity in the world of wheeler-dealing.

It is no surprise then that the battle for this seat has boiled down to one between business titans, hotshots and manipulators all rolled into one, and the ward’s 24,462 registered voters will be making a crucial decision for themselves and their town on Tuesday next week.

The hottest competition is one between the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Chama Cha Kazi (CCK), with Jubilee, Usawa Kwa Wote and independent candidates hovering around to chance a win.

The UDA candidate is Charles Machigo, a famed investor who owns the Maka Villa Resort at the foot end of the town. Shadowing him is the incumbent Jacinta Ng’ang’a, who is by no means a pushover and can give as much as she takes in the contest.

Mr Machigo was elected the area’s MCA in 2013 and Ms Ng’ang’a dislodged him in 2017. Between them is more of an ‘ancient grudge breaking into new mutiny’, to borrow from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The two are under the Kenya Kwanza alliance, whose flag-bearer is Deputy President William Ruto. They have given the town’s campaigns their mojo, and voters cannot complain about not getting ‘unga subsidies’ from the two combatants.

Murang'a ward candidate

A pooster of Murang'a Township ward candidate Peter Gakenge mounted on a tree in Murang'a town.

Photo credit: Mwangi Muiruri I Nation Media Group

“We are happy that the two are battling it out neck and neck, because in their push for supremacy, many throats are getting their alcohol thirst satiated and those with family responsibilities take home some food courtesy of the two,” quipped Ali Mohammed Zaituni, a resident of Mjini Estate.

Mr Machigo, who has the backing of the UDA lineup led by Senator Irungu Kang’ata (governor aspirant), Joe Nyutu (Senate), Betty Maina (woman rep) and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, says he wants to reclaim the seat so as to bring back the lost glory of the town.

“This town needs a streetwise [ward rep] who knows the challenges of the lowly residing in our humble estates. We need someone who can stamp a foot down and demand efficient and affordable services for area residents … We want someone who understands enterprise,” he said.

Ms Ng’ang’a said those are the very things that she has been pushing hard to deliver for the people of Murang’a town, “including refusing hiking of water rates [and fees for] business permits and harassment of hawkers”.

Sloganeering like Maitu ari Tha (a woman is merciful), Ms Ng’ang’a said “we cannot entrust our lives and those of future generations [with] people not known to pursue the best interests of our youths”.

The campaign vehicles of the two chased each other in town, each candidate trying to undo the other’s messaging. When Dr Ruto visited, the two were seen competing for supremacy in cheers and placard displays.

The two have also taken over tuktuks by branding them with their posters, while also trying to outdo each other on who can best paint the town walls, trees and electricity poles with their faces.

On the sidelines is Jubilee’s Peter Gakenge, who has taken control of the three roundabouts in the town by placing huge posters on them, leaving no space for the others.

“Mine is to campaign for Raila Odinga as our Azimio la Umoja candidate and promise better services for our town that of late has been neglected,” he said. 

Murang'a town ward

Wakili Ali Ali addresses supporters at a Murang'a town construction site on August 3, 2022.

Photo credit: Mwangi Muiruri I Nation Media Group

“I want to push for affordable water rates, responsible enforcement officers and humane treatment of our traders, as well as demand a clean environment.”

Usawa Kwa Wote aspirant Habire Chege has been thrown into a whirlwind after his party leader, Governor Mwangi wa Iria, joined Azimio.

“I will soldier on, although so many things have happened … The focus is on me and the electorate and I wish to promise good representation that will empower Murang’a township youth and instill in them a sense of belonging,” he said.

“I want to actively participate in the emancipation of our disillusioned youths.”

Independent candidate Ali Ali’s posters say “Wakili (lawyer) Ali Ali”, and he says his agenda is to enforce human rights for area youths who occasionally find themselves being harassed by the government for frivolous reasons.

“I want to empower the youth, promote a savings culture in our people, be a true servant [who can] get our youths jobs and promote productivity,” he said.

“As a commoner and a true product of the school of hard life, I perfectly understand the problems in this town.”


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