Dennis Lumiti and Yusuf Masibo
Campaigns for the Matungu and Kabuchai by-elections entered the homestretch yesterday, when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) started clearing the candidates.
It was a beehive of activity and show of might as political bigwigs, escorted their respective candidates for clearance and thereafter, traversed the vast constituency to galvanise support.
The Amani National Congress (ANC) candidate for Matungu parliamentary seat, Peter Oscar Nabulindo and Alex Wamukoya Lanya of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) were among the 10 candidates, who were cleared by the IEBC Matungu Presiding Officer John Kirui.
Christabel Jane Murunga, widow of the former MP Justus Murunga, was the first one on the queue, with her stepson Eugene Ambwere Murunga being the fourth in line to be given the greenlight to vie. They are among 20 candidates who will vie for the seat on Independent tickets.
The widow had a scare, when the electoral body declined to clear her, saying she had not raised the required number of signatures needed to vie as an independent candidate.
She, however, left briefly and returned with more signatures, that enabled her to meet the threshold and she was cleared to vie.
The UDA candidate was the second in line and arrived accompanied by Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali and former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa.
“I have now been given the mandate to campaign and I assure everybody that I will look for votes across Matungu in a peaceful manner,” said Lanya.
ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford-Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula arrived at noon, while escorting their candidate Nabulindo.
The duo had come from Kabuchai constituency in Bungoma County, where they had also overseen the clearance of the Ford-Kenya candidate Majimbo Kalasinga.
While exuding confidence, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula said they would ensure they retain the two seats in the March 4 mini-poll.
“We are here to send a clear message that we are united as the Mulembe nation and will not allow anybody to meddle in our affairs anymore,” said Wetang’ula.
He added that no outsider will break his unity and brotherhood with Musalia and urged the Matungu and Kabuchai voters to cast their ballots in favour of Nabulindo and Majimbo.
Mudavadi said he was confident that ANC would retain the seat and win it again come 2022.
He pointed out that the Matungu residents had suffered a lot and that they wanted fresh leadership.
“Many, if not all, Matungu residents depended on Mumias Sugar Company which was looted and collapsed by the same people now coming here to ask for votes.
Are we fools? No we are not!” said Mudavadi amid cheers from the crowd.
The two led hundreds of leaders and local residents in traversing the constituency in an open truck and a long convoy.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said Nabulindo was the most qualified to succeed Murunga due to his clean track record.
Other candidates who were cleared include lawyer Charles Kasamani Lutta, Dominic Shikunyi, Athman Wangara, Anzelimo Kongoti and Paul Achayo.
Ten other candidates are expected to be cleared today, including former area MP David Were who is vying on the ODM ticket.
One of the candidates Paul Posho chickened out of the race yesterday in favour of Lanya.
The move followed a closed-door meeting with Deputy President William Ruto, who is associated with UDA.
The parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of Murunga who reportedly succumbed to Covid-19 related complications.
- Christabel Jane Murunga, widow of the former MP Justus Murunga and her stepson Eugene Ambwere Murunga were cleared.
- ANC Matungu seat hopeful Peter Oscar Nabulindo and Alex Wamukoya Lanya of the United Democratic Alliance were also cleared among other candidates.