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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Over a dozen rivals plot to unseat Webuye West MP

Webuye West MP Dan Wanyama is not resting easy. The list of those who are out to snatch his seat has reached 14. The MP’s opponents have zoned the constituency to lock him out, especially in areas where the he has had hostile reception in recent days. The opponents are taking advantage of the constituency’s complex voting pattern in which nothing can be taken for granted.
The four wards that are always crucial at every election are Sitikho, Matulo, Misikhu and Bokoli. So far, hopefuls who have shown seriousness in their early campaigns are from Bokoli where the MP hails from. This means that Bokoli with more than 9,358 voters will be targeted by every candidate.
 Candidates who have lined up against   Wanyama include Alex Mukhebi, former MP Joash Wamangoli, a lecturer, one Myama, Wanyama Musyamabo who is Isiolo county commissioner but who is set to retire, Kenya National Union of Teachers’ Bungoma East executive secretary Aggrey Namisi,   Leonard Wakoli who is Bungoma county IT director, Trenk Mukinyinyi, Arnold Nduguyu and Patrick Wamoto.
 Saul Busolo, the Kenya Sugar Board chairman who served as MP between 1995 and 1997, is said to be also in the race. He has the support of elders and academics in the Nzoia sugar belt that he represents, especially after the management changes at Nzoia Sugar Company in the recent years. Busolo has yet to declare his party. He has been a regular visitor to cane growers’ meetings in the area. He is likely to garner quite a chunk of the votes in Bokoli where Wamangoli and incumbent MP also expect support.
Others include businessman Kennedy Wanjala, Peter Sitati and John Wasike. The incumbent will be banking on his track record. Through the CDF, the MP has built new schools and classrooms.  Wanyama should prepare for a bruising campaign as his opponents have prepared to give him a run for his money. The newcomers have an uphill task in proving that they can deliver more than what Wanyama has done. The MP faces two experienced politicians, Joash Wamangoli and Busolo.  Wamangoli stretched the MP in expensive campaigns in 2013 when he vied on UDF ticket. Both politicians are fairly wealthy and have tested the MP’s strength and know his style of politics.
Issues likely to dominate the campaigns include underutilised resources, falling education standards, and the management of the CDF money, stalled community projects, poor roads as well as declining agricultural production and marketing hiccups. The constituency is made up four wards which have the largest number of poor families. Most of those in the race are unwilling to disclose their party tickets and are waiting to see how the rivalry between Ford Kenya and New Ford Kenya plays out. Wanyama will be evaluated on how he has been distributing the CDF money, his role in education development. But his critics led by Juma say the MP is yet to make any developmental impact in the area. They say there is a lot to be done in the development of infrastructure and agriculture and argue that the MP has not ensured equal distribution of resources. Juma says he will work towards creating harmony between the clans. The MP is also accused of being aloof and arrogant, charges that he denies. He also dismisses accusations of unfair distribution of CDF, bursary and other devolved money, arguing that the committees elected by the community identified projects to be funded. And if past results are anything to go by,  Musyambo is likely to complicate matters for the incumbent as he has recently come in forcefully and appears to still enjoy some support at his strongholds and it is rumoured that Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka may be the one grooming him as they served both as provincial administrators. Kennedy Wanjala, who has a humble background, having grown up an orphan and educated by sponsors, is reciprocating the gesture by sponsoring orphans in schools. Electorates from Sitikho, Matulo and Misikhu could give him support as he has assisted a lot in terms of education of their children using his position as a local businessman. The MP comes from  Bokoli in the upper zone, which has produced area MPs since independence, including   Busolo and  Wamangoli.