George Koimbori juja

Juja Parliamentary by-election candidate George Koimbori (left) celebrates win with his sister Jane Momenta at Mangu School on May 19, 2021.

| Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Jubilee back to the drawing board after humiliating results

What you need to know:

  • Jubilee brigade underestimated the strength of the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) whose candidate, George Koimburi.
  • Electoral commission accused Governor James Nyoro of instigating the chaos.

A divided Jubilee team, false belief of a walkover and a protest vote against the government conspired to embarrass the ruling party in the  by-election in Juja, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard. 

The withdrawal from the race by Deputy President William Ruto-linked United Democratic Alliance (UDA) gave Jubilee false confidence.

The Jubilee brigade underestimated the strength of the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) whose candidate, George Koimburi, won with a wide margin. 

Dr Ruto’s allies said the victories in Juja and Rurii ward, Nyandarua county, show President Kenyatta is losing grip of Mt Kenya.

According to them, the DP’s inroads in the region can no longer be taken for granted. 

Before party nominations, Mr Koimburi defected from Jubilee to PEP.

He said Jubilee bosses had show open bias towards Ms Susan Njeri, the  widow of Mr Francis Waititu “Wakapee”. Mr Waititu’s death occasioned the mini-poll. 

PEP, a party associated with Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, also upset Jubilee in the Gaturi ward by-election, Murang’a county, in December. 

Night of chaos

Mr Koimburi garnered 12,159 votes against Ms Njeri’s 5,764 in an election that was marred by a turnout of just 18.91 per cent or 21, 862 votes cast. 

Mr Koimburi was ecstatic after being declared winner by returning officer Justus Mbithi. 

“I thank my party and the Deputy President for their support. I will work on student bursaries, roads and other projects that are important to my constituents,” the MP-elect said. 

He was accompanied by Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had suspended counting on Tuesday night following chaos it blamed on Kiambu Governor James Nyoro

Mr Nyoro defended himself, saying he protested “because the Jubilee candidate was being rigged out”. 

UDA’s Francis Muraya emerged victorious in Rurii ward while Mr Pavel Oimeke of the Orange Democratic Movement is the Bonchari MP-elect.

Infighting in Jubilee undermined the quest to retain the Juja seat. 

Anti-Jubilee forces

Despite the State machinery being deployed to help Ms Njeri – a Principal Secretary and senior government administrators in Kiambu were involved in the campaigns – the anti-Jubilee forces proved strong in the end. 

The campaign team included Governor Nyoro, his deputy Joyce Ngugi, Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba, Kiambu Town MP Jude Njomo and County Jubilee Caucus chairman Elijah Njoroge, who is also the Biashara ward representative. 

Party insiders told the Daily Nation that fights over who would lead the campaign and how resources would be utilised undermined the drive. 

Apart from the bickering, UDA’s surprise withdrawal from the race prompted the feeling that the greatest threat to victory had been neutralised.

When asked about the campaign last week, Mr Njoroge retorted: “You do not campaign for what you have already won.”

The Biashara ward representative added that the ground was pro-Jubilee and that Juja residents knew what President Kenyatta wanted from them.

Following the loss, Mr Njoroge told the Daily Nation yesterday that the outcome is a protest vote “and it is time the President directly addresses his restive Mt Kenya base”.

A party official who attended some of the campaign planning meetings blamed everything on Mr Nyoro , Mr Njomo  and  Ms Wamuchomba.

Anti-government sentiments

“The choice of the lead campaign team was wrong. We only worked hard to lose the seat. Let them open up and tell the truth. The fighting in our campaign team was shocking,” the source said, adding that the party should learn from the Juja defeat and do things differently in the upcoming Kiambaa constituency by-election. 

Jubilee rivals capitalised on the infighting and the anti-government sentiments sweeping across the region to pull a surprise in the race that attracted 11 candidates.

Mr Koimburi  team attributed its success to  Mr Kuria, one of Dr Ruto’s strong backers in Mt Kenya. 

They said his campaign resonated with the “hustler” narrative that is perpetuated by Dr Ruto. 

In an apparent reference to President Kenyatta, Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika said “his grip of the Mountain is only a mirage”.

“The week has been a nightmare for someone. His ‘on-life-support’ party lost in Rurii, Juja and Bonchari. The deep state system is a scandal,” she said.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa said the results have confirmed Dr Ruto’s “rising star” in Mt Kenya.

“Nobody is more powerful than a people united against dictatorship,” he said. 


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