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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Is Waititu’s win start of Kabogo’s end?

Is last week’s landslide and resounding victory by the Jubilee Alliance Party candidate Ferdinand Waititu in Kabete the beginning of the end of Kiambu governor Wiliam Kabogo’s political career?
This is the one million dollar question that many Kiambu voters are now asking after Waititu captured the seat when he garnered 24,228 votes. He was followed by independent candidate George Waiguru who garnered 268 votes and at the third place was Newton Njenga of National Vision Party with 241 votes.
With the by-election now behind Kabete voters, the focus is now on 2017 where Waititu has declared that he will go for the gubernatorial seat. Waititu’s win has now thrown Kabogo and his allies offguard as they must now go back to the drawing board to restrategise as sources say they did not anticipate Waititu’s win.
Analysts now say that Waititu’s candidature could be a gamechanger in the volatile Kiambu county politics where Kabogo has been facing consistent opposition from elected leaders, notably Thika Town MP Alice Ng’ang’a. Apart from Ng’ang’a, sources say all the 11 Kiambu MPs are not in any good terms with Kabogo.
Kabogo’s political star has continued to diminish as was witnessed last week when he was embarrassed by residents of Thika town after he was heckled twice over high county levies imposed on them. Surprisingly, he was booed in the presence of William Ruto.
The ugly incident happened when Kabogo was in a convoy that had accompanied Ruto for a function in Joy Town Special School where he was unable to address a crowd at U Shop opposite Jamhuri market and also at the junction that leads to Thika Stadium. To Ruto’s surprise, when he was called to deliver his speech as governor, the crowd started chanting “Kabogo must go”. A bitter Kabongo later blamed the hostility on Waititu and the Kiambu MPs whom he accused of having ferried people to heckle him.
They also shouted “Baba Yao, Baba Yao” in reference to Waititu. Trouble started when Ruto started introducing MPs who had accompanied him and said: “Your governor is also here.”
The crowd started shouting “No…No…No... We are being oppressed by taxes.” Ruto then gave the microphone to Ng’ang’a who was wildly cheered and applauded.
But Kabogo in a quick rejoinder has said he is not afraid of any competitor in 2017 elections and dared Waititu to make good of his threat and vie for the seat. “All are welcome in the race. I will be ready at the time, but now I’m concentrating on working for my electorate,” Kabogo said.
Kabogo’s main worry is that several leaders in the county have endorsed Waititu to run for governor in 2017.
After Waititu was declared MP-elect for Kabete, Ng’ang’a was heard bragging that the race for governor will intensify as Waititu is the most smart opponent to Kabogo.
Leading the onslaught against Kabogo has been Ng’ang’a who is his sworn political enemy. At one time, he accused the MP of being incapable of leadership acumen because she is an unmarried woman. Others who have vowed to kick out Kabogo are Kimani Ichungwa of  Kikuyu, Kigo Njenga, Gatundu North and Mburu Kahangara, Lari.
The trouble with Kabogo is that the MPs and other county leaders believe that since his election, he has been operating like a lone ranger and making decisions without consulting them.
Kabogo’s major fallout with the MPs was as a result of his decision to station the county headquarters in Thika town, against the wishes of local residents who preferred Kiambu.
The MPs and local residents say the relocation of the county’s headquarters was for Kabogo’s convenience, which is very inconveniencing for citizens in areas bordering Kajiado and Naivasha.
Analysts say Waititu’s election has complicated political calculations for Kabogo who does not see eye to eye with his own county MPs and who is not also in good terms with his own senator Kimani Wamatangi. Prior to the humiliation witnessed by Ruto, Kabogo could not believe it when President Uhuru Kenyatta was forced by Juja town residents to have Waititu address them. Uhuru was later to tell the embattled governor in Kikuyu language that he needs to watch out. Surprisingly, Uhuru who has roots in Kiambu has never come out to defend Kabogo against his opponents the way he did to Nairobi governor Evans Kidero. Uhuru said elected leaders must be respected and allowed to work.
The fear among Kabogo’s strategists is the fact that Waititu is a combative politician, a street smart politician with strong grassroots appeal, and a vast network in the vote rich informal settlements of Nairobi.
But even as Kabogo endears himself to the youth, the middle class voters have dismissed him as “a poorly educated stone thrower” who cannot be elected Kiambu governor where there are more learned people with degrees.
Sources well-versed with Kiambu county politics now say that Waititu’s entry into Kiambu politics enjoys the blessings of President Uhuru. During the last elections, Uhuru had secretly preferred the former MD of the Rockefeller Foundation, Africa region James Nyoro whom sources say he asked to resign from his highflying job.
During the campaigns that saw Kabogo flex his financial muscle, those behind Nyoro said they wanted a CEO and they were decided that their man was the food security expert with international exposure. However, the TNA wave in Kiambu county was so strong that Nyoro could not withstand.
Kabogo therefore survived Nyoro’s onslaught when Jubilee leaders asked their supporters to give Uhuru “a six-piece suit”. Many changed their minds after this plea and Nyoro’s hopes were shattered overnight.
During the elections, Kabogo garnered 487,031 on TNA ticket while Nyoro who had earlier defected to Narc which was a Jubilee affiliate party garnered 241,058 votes.
After the elections, Kabogo immediately started facing opposition from Kiambu MPs as Uhuru reached out to Nyoro and posted him to Ruto’s office as adviser on food security. He was later to resign and leave the job accusing Ruto of having no capacity to grasp professional advice. He also protested the “lack of professionalism” in the DP’s office.
Sources say his resignation had the blessings of Uhuru. He has since landed a lucrative international job. As to whether he will give a second stab at the Kiambu gubernatorial race, only time will tell.