Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement has unveiled Ms Agnes Kavindu as its candidate for the upcoming senatorial by-election in Machakos.
Ms Kavindu is the former wife of former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama.
At a ceremony presided over by Mr Musyoka at the party’s Karen offices in Nairobi Wednesday morning, Ms Kavindu was given the Wiper ticket to battle it out with other candidates, including one who will be fielded by her former husband’s party.
Speaking after receiving the Wiper certificate on Wednesday morning, Ms Kavindu said she left the Jubilee Party "with the blessings of the party leader".
Sources told the Nation that at first, Wiper wanted to field Jennifer Mueni Kabaka — one of the widows of former Senator Boniface Kabaka — but changed its mind in favour of Mr Muthama’s former wife.
The party appears keen to use the bitter divorce between Mr Muthama and Ms Kavindu to settle its own messy political divorce with the former senator, which saw him break ranks with Mr Musyoka last year to team up with Deputy President William Ruto.
“Agnes Kavindu is our sure bet to silence Muthama once and for all. All our party elected MPs and MCAs from all counties will camp in Machakos to ensure we clinch the seat,” said a party operative who did not want to be named.
After the 2017 elections, President Uhuru Kenyatta picked the 64-year-old Ms Kavindu as a member of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce.
On the other hand, Mr Muthama is the interim national chairman of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party associated with Dr Ruto. The party will also field a candidate in the Machakos by-election.
This means the former senator will have to publicly crusade against his estranged wife as he pushes for the election of his UDA candidate, with their messy divorce likely to dominate political campaigns.
Her candidacy brings an interesting political twist to the Machakos contest because the two are still embroiled in a court battle over Mr Muthama’s business fortune, where Ms Kavindu is demanding an equal share of matrimonial properties.
UDA is yet to name its candidate, with several contenders eyeing the Ruto party ticket, but Ms Kavindu will have to face spirited campaigns from former cabinet minister Mutua Katuku who is running on a Maendeleo Chap Chap party ticket.
Mr Katuku, who was recently unveiled by Governor Alfred Mutua as his party’s candidate, ran for the Machakos Senate seat in the 2017 elections on little-known People's Trust Party, garnering 84,856 votes while Ms Kavindu was Jubilee Party’s candidate for Woman Rep. She garnered 95,315 votes.
The Machakos senatorial by-election is shaping into a three-horse race pitting Mr Katuku, Ms Kavindu and the yet-to-be unveiled UDA candidate.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will clear the candidates on January 18.
Mr Katuku has accused the Wiper party of reducing the senatorial by-election into a “bedroom affair” by nominating Mr Muthama’s former wife “to settle political scores with one of their longstanding party insiders”.
“This election is about the best candidate to replace the late Senator Kabaka and serve the remainder of his term. To reduce the campaign platform into an extension of the divorce court proceedings between Muthama and his ex-wife is an insult to Machakos voters,” said Mr Katuku.
Ms Kavindu is fighting to get half of her former husband’s property, which she feels entitled to as his former spouse.
Mr Muthama is known to have built her a new home on a 100-acre piece of land so she could move out of their matrimonial home. The 30-bedroom mansion was later the bone of contention after she claimed in 2014 that the politician was trying to evict her and convert it into a resort or office for his political activities.
Through the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), Ms Kavindu in 2014 sued her estranged husband for attempting to evict her from the home in Kitanga Village, off the Machakos-Nairobi road.
She had accused Mr Muthama of mistreatment — including disconnecting electricity and water to the palatial home.
In October 2014, when she hit the headlines accusing her husband of mistreating her, she also claimed that he cheated on her while she was abroad on work-related issues.