Does Ken­neth stand a bet­ter chance in Mu­rang’a?

Res­i­dents want more op­tions be­yond Gover­nor Wairia and Jam­leck Kamau

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - ALICE WAITHERA @TheS­tarKenya

With only two can­di­dates to face off, Mu­rang’a res­i­dents be­lieve for­mer Gatanga MP Peter Ken­neth stands a bet­ter chance to be gover­nor if he runs in the county and not in Nairobi.

Mu­rang’a gives Ken­neth the ad­van­tage of fa­mil­iar­ity, a good track record when he was MP, sta­tus as a leader of a na­tional stan­dard and an elec­tion field that is not too crowded.

The dis­ad­van­tage is that the po­si­tion is viewed as lo­cal, un­like Nairobi that has a more na­tional out­look be­cause it is the cap­i­tal city.

While Nairobi would be a good launch pad for a 2022 pres­i­den­tial bid, Mu­rang’a would not of­fer him the same sta­tus. Ken­neth has said he will run on his KNC party ticket, which is a non­starter in Cen­tral.

Ken­neth stirred a po­lit­i­cal de­bate when he an­nounced last week that he no longer has eyes on the Pres­i­dency in 2017, and will in­stead run for gover­nor.

If he set­tles for Nairobi, he will face the in­cum­bent Gover­nor Evans Kidero and as­pi­rants Mike Sonko, Mar­garet Wan­jiru, Den­nis Waweru, John­son Sakaja and Eu­gene Wa­malwa.

In Mu­rang’a, he would go against Gover­nor Mwangi Wairia and Kigumo MP Jam­leck Kamau.

“It is hard to tell who is more pop­u­lar be­tween Wairia and Jam­leck,” a Mu­rang’a res­i­dent said in an in­ter­view.

“All the peo­ple who fell out with Wairia went to Jam­leck. Those who have ben­e­fit­ted from his lead­er­ship and loved him can­not stand Jam­leck. Ken­neth’s en­try ex­cites the race and is a to­tal game changer.”

Wairia is pop­u­lar with the older gen­er­a­tion and farm­ers. He is shrewd and en­joys the ben­e­fits of in­cum­bency.

KAMAU LOVED BY THE YOUTH

Kamau is loved by the youth and ur­ban­ites but has lit­tle to show re­gard­ing trans­for­ma­tive projects. He, how­ever, is seen to work alone. Only Kan­dara’s Alice Wa­home at­tended the event where he an­nounced his can­di­da­ture for gover­nor. Five MPs, all mem­bers of the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee on En­ergy, Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and In­for­ma­tion, at­tended the event.

A sec­tion of res­i­dents says they want Ken­neth to vie for Mu­rang’a gover­nor as they are tired of the con­stant fights be­tween Wairia and Kamau.

The two lead­ers have en­gaged in push-and-pull since Kamau de­clared in 2014 that he would run for Mu­rang’a gover­nor.

The MP ac­cused the gover­nor of mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing pub­lic funds while Wairia ac­cused him of fa­cil­i­tat­ing his failed im­peach­ment.

“Peter Ken­neth will be a third force that will gain ap­peal among res­i­dents who are tired of the con­stant fights be­tween Kamau and Wairia,” said John Gi­tau, a trader in Maragua town.

Gi­tau said Ken­neth is a sober leader who has a na­tional ap­peal and a good de­vel­op­ment his­tory as Gatanga MP.

TWO-HORSE RACE

Joseph Gachane, a farmer in Kam­biti, said Ken­neth’s en­try into the gover­nor race would make it a two-horse race be­tween him and Wairia, sweep­ing Kamau aside.

Gachane said if elec­tions were held to­day, Wairia would win, al­though he would face stiff com­pe­ti­tion if Ken­neth joined the race. The farmer also said Ken­neth would have to an­swer ques­tions on why he has been quiet on both lo­cal and na­tional is­sues, only choos­ing to come out months be­fore the gen­eral elec­tion.

“He would have to ex­plain to the Mu­rang’a peo­ple where he was when ev­ery Kenyan was dis­cussing the North­ern Col­lec­tor Tun­nel or cor­rup­tion,” he said. His sen­ti­ments con­trasted with those made by Ben Gach­agua, an opin­ion leader in Mu­rang’a town. He said Kamau would win if an elec­tion were held with­out Ken­neth in the race.

He said de­spite Wairia ini­ti­at­ing im­por­tant de­vel­op­ment projects in the county, his staff has let him down and has not em­braced trans­parency in their work.

“Ken­neth would have a very high prob­a­bil­ity of win­ning, but he would have to work out a way of work­ing to­gether with Kamau to avoid di­vid­ing votes in the Mu­rang’a South bloc as Wairia gar­ners the Mu­rang’a North vote alone,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion, con­stituen­cies in Mu­rang’a South, where both Kamau and Ken­neth hail from, have 280, 898 reg­is­tered vot­ers, while Mu­rang’a North has 171, 943 vot­ers.

WAIRIA WILL WIN

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Peter Kag­wanja has said an im­promptu elec­tion would see Wairia win­ning with a land­slide. Kag­wanja said Wairia has es­tab­lished projects which are pop­u­lar among res­i­dents but are not en­dear­ing to the elite.

“Wairia has man­aged to tra­verse the county, de­vel­op­ing projects that are very pop­u­lar with res­i­dents and has gained their sup­port,” Kag­wanja said.

The po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst said a sur­vey done through the East African In­dex re­search com­pany has in­di­cated that Wairia has a big lead due to the pop­ulist projects he has ini­ti­ated, such as em­pow­er­ing the dairy sec­tor, is­su­ing napier grass seeds and sweet potato vines. He be­lieves Ken­neth also stands a chance of win­ning should he join the race, due to his de­vel­op­ment record.

A map of Mu­rang’a county. Right, KNC leader Peter Keneth, Gover­nor Mwangi Wairia and Kigumo MP Jam­leck Kamau

/ CHARLES KERICH/FILE

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