Isaac Ruto, Peter Munya, William Kabogo and Alfred Mutua. What is common among these 4 men?
For starters, they are all sitting governors who have have seemingly gone against the community wave, but have very realistic chances of retaining their seats.
Of the 4, only Isaac Ruto and Alfred Mutua have outright opposed the community chiefs. These are William Ruto and Kalonzo Musyoka respectively.
In Machakos, Alfred Mutua abandoned the Wiper ship very early in his term and started courting Jubilee. Initially, Kalonzo saw him as ‘salvageable’ until he wasn’t.
The gulf between Mutua and Kalonzo continued to widen when it became apparent that the Machakos governor had ambitions to be the Kamba supremo. And then he founded his own party (Maendeleo Chap Chap) hammering the final nail in his relationship with Kalonzo.
Mutua concurrently damaged his relationship with Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama, whose ally and Deputy Governor Bernard Kiala started been sidelined. It was now clear that Mutua would not have any major ally towards the 2017 election.
Meanwhile, Muthama and his friend Kiala assumed that it would be automatic who the wiper gubernatorial candidate for Machakos would be. The gemstone dealer probably thought that by virtue of his stature, Kalonzo would give him free reign in Machakos affairs. How wrong he was. The former Vice President insisted on a nomination exercise, bringing on board Wavinya Ndeti.
Kiala stood no chance. Though they claimed there were massive irregularities, it is hard to imagine how Kiala could have beaten Wavinya even in a free and fair process. Kiala then chose to go independent, until this weekend when he pulled out but categorically stated it was not in favour of any candidate. But essentially that was more of a move to avoid embarrassment, since the according to the polls he was doing exceptionally bad. Would have been a miracle if he crossed 3%.
Now the battle is between Wavinya and Mutua without distractions. In the Wiper nominations, Wavinya got 227, 947. That’s more than a third of Machakos’ 627,168 registered voters.
If Mutua and videos doing rounds showing vote marking in favour of Wavinya are to be believed, then it was of great importance that the perception of a ‘Wiper wave’ in Machakos be created. The same way crowds in rallies are a psychological tool used to influence voters, a party wave is too. Nobody likes to support a side that seems to be losing.
But even if the nomination was free and fair, there is still almost 2/3 of voters to be fought for.
The choice for Machakos is not straightforward. Here they have a governor who has performed exceptionally well by many Kenyans standards, and a candidate who did well as MP and promises more if elected governor.
You know, it’s very hard to understand the politics of this country. Pull anyone from the street. Kisumu, Embu, Muranga, Mombasa, Turkana etc.. anywhere. Ask them to list the best performing governors in Kenya for the last 5 years. I bet Alfred Mutua will be mentioned as the top. I mean, most governors are struggling to show a single project they have initiated.
And here is Mutua who can point to a stadium (best county constructed stadium), a people’s park, tons of ambulances, police cars, and most importantly, ambition, vision and will to do much more. Ask any Kenyan whether they want a governor like Mutua, and they’ll reply, “where do I sign up”.
Then why doesn’t Mutua have 95% support? Well, obviously Kenyans are not the sharpest tool in the shed. Tribe and tribal loyalty still plays a big role, and often blocks people from recognizing a good fruit when they have it, or a bad one too.
Obviously Mutua is no angel, but all things considered, his achievements dwarf every other governor in this country. In some counties, people actually wonder whether they have anyone in charge.
That said, most opinion polls put Mutua ahead. A majority of Machakos people are likely to reward performance instead of putting party loyalty first.
But even without these polls, I would still have been of the view that Alfred Mutua will be re-elected. Kenyans are changing (albeit slowly), and parties are starting to play a lesser role in county matters.
Wavinya may not be a bad choice, but she is competing against a very good governor. 2022 may present better prospects for her.
Machakos 2017 Prediction: Alfred Mutua wins
The above analysis is an opinion based on observation of the ‘mood’, and not supported by concrete scientific numbers.