By Isaac Swila
The stage is all but set for an explosive political contest pitting incumbent Machakos Governor Dr Alfred Mutua, running on a Maendeleo Chap Chap ticket, against a fired-up Wavinya Ndeti whose political vehicle is the Wiper Democratic Movement.
Ndeti, 50, a former MP for Kathiani, is an experienced political operator, but in Mutua, she faces a shrewd political player who has cut his teeth in the last four years he has served as a governor.
Ndeti, who holds an MSc in Business Administration and Marketing from the Heirotwatt University, United Kingdom, has long hankered after the governor’s seat, and her defection from Chama Cha Uzalendo (CCU) to Wiper party was seen as a scheme by Wiper honchos to tame Mutua, who had not only become rebellious to the party which sponsored him to the seat, but also gotten so cosy with “the enemy” – the Jubilee administration.
However, what seemed like a done deal for Ndeti almost turned ruinous when the IEBC’s Dispute Resolution Tribunal annulled her certificate on grounds that she was also a member of CCU – meaning that she was a member of two political parties at the time of her nomination.
But in a ruling made by High Court judge George Odunga, who not only permanently quashed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) decision to bar her from the race but also ordered the IEBC to include her name on the ballot paper, the gloves are off, setting the stage for a huge political fight.
“The Court has found that other issues raised before me as the basis for justification of the committee’s decision were not the grounds upon which IEBC made its decision,” Justice Odunga ruled.
Both candidates are seen as heavy weights with a lot of support in the vast Machakos County.
Ndeti, a fierce debater who shoots from the hip has the advantage of flying Wiper flag – the dominant political force in Ukambani, while Mutua is riding on his “impressive” development record, which he has been too happy to peddle whenever chance has presented itself. The impressiveness of that record is, however, a matter of conjecture.
Apart from that, the duo’s battle points to the turf political undercurrents in region.
While Ndeti has the backing of the powers that be in Wiper, including party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Mutua is seen as a lone ranger and a sympathiser to the Jubilee cause.
Bernard Kiala, the erstwhile deputy to Mutua, had also shown interest in flying the Wiper’ s flag but was crushed by Ndeti in the primaries. He cried foul after the loss.
Kiala had the backing of amongst others Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama who has also fallen out with Musyoka in the wake of the nominations that handed Ndeti the ticket.
This has raised concerns amongst the party’s supporters, with some seeing Muthama’s hands in Ndeti’s woes. The undercurrents aside, Ndeti maintains that she is unbowed and ready to counter whatever missiles are hurled her way.
“What’s’ there to fear? Nothing. You are witnessing all these because the men are scared. They know I’m strong and will make a great governor… that explains the drama,” Ndeti was quoted as saying during an interview after the court ruling last month.
On the other hand, Mutua maintains that he is not worried of his re-election but rather the margin with which he will win.
“It not a matter of if I’m re-elected. I will be. The question is by what margin. The people of Machakos deserve a better life and that is what I’ve been trying to offer them. If we can have piped water and ambulances in London or France, I don’t see the reason we can’t have the same for the people of Machakos,” he has said previously.
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