The race for Msambweni constituency by-election has become tricky for ODM, the dominant party in the region, even after receiving the backing of Jubilee Party’s wing allied to Uhuru Kenyatta after several other parties announced they would field candidates.
The by-election is a litmus test for political heavyweights ahead of 2022. Word has it, even Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC is set to field a candidate so as not to be left behind. Leading the pack is ODM’s sister in the moribund National Super Alliance coalition, Wiper, which has unveiled its candidate thereby complicating the duel many had seen as an ODM versus William Ruto’s candidate. Wiper unveiled Sheikh Mahmoud Abdurahman as its candidate for the by-election scheduled for December 15. Another party with roots in Coast, Kadu Asili, also plans to field a candidate, further complicating matters.
Kadu Asili national chair Kombora Korokoro said the party will field a candidate in Msambweni and in most of the wards where by-elections will be held. Also in the race is The New Democrats which placed an advertisement in a local daily inviting aspirants who wish to contest for the seat on its ticket to submit their applications. The TNT, which was registered in 2015, has its officials as David Sudi (party leader), Fredrick Muthangya (secretary-general), Musembi (national treasurer) and Mathenge (national chairman). The Farmers Party headed by David Kigochi and based at Ruprani House, Nairobi, has also invited aspirants wishing to contest on its ticket to submit their applications.
Apart from Msambweni, the other by-elections will be held in Dabaso ward in Kilifi county, Kisumu North ward in Kisumu county, Kahawa Wendani ward in Kiambu county and Wundanyi/Mbale ward in Taita Taveta. But it is Msambeni where Ruto, Raila, Mudavadi and Kalonzo will engage in a do-or-die campaign as they eye the about 70,000 votes in the 2022 elections. Msambweni constituency is an electoral constituency in Kwale county established in 1988 and comprises Gombato Bongwe, Ukunda, Kinondo and Ramisi wards. The constituency had 68,621 registered voters during the 2017 general election.
The ODM picked its candidate, Omar Idd Boga after he trounced Nicholas Zani in the primaries. Boga garnered 6,183 votes against Zani’s 530. The Msambweni seat fell vacant following the death of Suleiman Dori in March this year. Dori, who was born on October 19, 1977 won the seat on the ODM party ticket in the 2013 and 2017 elections. In 2017, he trounced his long-term rival, Omar Idd Boga, who was at the time Bongwe-Gombato MCA, in the party primaries. After losing in the primaries, Boga resigned from ODM to vie as an independent candidate, citing irregularities but Dori carried the day, beating him and Marere wa Mwachai who had vied on National Vision Party, which was founded by the late former cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott.
Dori fell out with Raila when the Orange party leader mended fences with Uhuru in the famous March 9, 2018, handshake. After the handshake, Dori and his Kilifi counterpart Aisha Jumwa defied their party as they defected to the camp of deputy president. The move put him on a collision course with the Orange party where he was summoned by the national executive council for disrespecting the party. Agnes Zani who was by then the party’s secretary-general, accused the Kwale legislator of disobeying the party, as Kwale party members called for his ouster. On January 19, 2019, the MP hit the headlines when he dared Raila to sanction his expulsion from the party.
For Boga, he upped his chances of being picked as the ODM candidate when he joined Coast leaders in meeting Raila in Msambweni where he affirmed his support for the building bridges initiative. ODM has picked Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho to coordinate the campaigns. For Ruto, he is backing Feisal Bader who will contest as an independent unless the deputy president decides to back another political party. Bader, alongside other serving legislators from the Coast, met the DP at his Karen home in Nairobi where they discussed how to trounce their rivals in the by-election. Those at the meeting included MPs Athman Shariff (Lamu East), Mohamed Ali (Nyali), Owen Baya (Kilifi North), Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga) and Aisha Jumwa (Malindi).
Others expected in the race either as independent or on other parties include Kwale county executive for finance and planning Bakari Sebe and Kenya National Union of Teachers Msambweni branch executive secretary Bashir Kilalo. The ODM campaigns in Kwale will be led by Joho the same with Taita Taveta’s by-election in Mbale Ward. In October last year, Raila and Ruto faced off in a by-election for Ganda ward in Malindi, Kilifi, where the ODM leader campaigned for eventual winner Reuben Katana while Ruto supported Abdulrahman Omar on an independent ticket after he teamed up with Jumwa. For Wiper, it has hit the campaign trail after unveiling Sheikh Abdurahman as its candidate. Speaking during a rally in Ukunda, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka said Kenyans need a leader with innovative ideas who will create massive jobs for the growing population.
The former vice president further added that now that Jubilee is not fielding a candidate in the mini-polls, they should support the Wiper candidate since they signed a cooperation agreement. Kalonzo was on a three-day tour at the Coastal region where he opened Wiper party offices in Mombasa and Wundanyi. Others running for the seat, Sharlet Akinyi as independent and Liganje Mwakaoje (United Green Movement). Boga is a younger brother to Agriculture PS Hamisi Boga. Abdallah is related to former MP Dori and was his personal assistant. He has the support from Khatib Mwashetani the Lungalunga MP and Kinangop MP Benjamin Tayari. Mwakaoeje worked as a clinician with Abdulrahman enjoying the support of the business community.