Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Politics: Why Kuria will be a launch pad to enter ODM Luo Nyanza turf

Ndaragwa MP Jeremaih Kioni, the introduces UDF presidential aspirant Musalia Mudavadi at Mabera when the party opened it's county offices.
Since their inclusion into Migori County the Kuria community, a minority tribe according to numbers has enjoyed a lot of national political activity with the run up of the coming elections.
The palpable fear within the community of being locked out by majority luo tribe within the county has seen some leaders, including the current MP and Assistant Roads Minister Wilfred Machage, to unanimously vote for NO during the past referendum and some to request Kuria to be joined in Rift Valley.
This fear coupled with the versatility of the tribe in voting for their leaders in line with their respective clans of; Bakira, Abagumbe, Nyabasi and Burege have seen chosing candidates from their clans irrespective of the party.
“The Kuria area in both East and West districts have 33 councilors with ODM being strong in the county having 11 with the rest divided between the score of PNU affiliate parties, Kanu and even Kenya Social Congress, a party associated with Mukaru Ng’ang’a having a civic seat” Tobias Range the Kehancha mayor explains.
Range says this dynamic politics makes it hard to predict the voting outcome of the Kuria area which within Nyanza bloc in the 2007 general elections gave President Mwai Kibaki 23,000 votes against PM Raila Odinga’s 19,000 votes.
Now with this versatility national parties with a keen interest to try to log out ODM’s grip from South Nyanza are using Kuria and Kisii area as a launching pad to infiltrate within Luo Nyanza which are hard to convince to get another party.
“The areas of Homa Bay and Migori counties are seen as hardcore ODM zones which has made politicians seeking to open their county offices in Migori to meet the IEBC guidelines to do so in Kuria which together with Kisii area may be instrumental in campaigning in Southern Nyanza” Patrice Musabi the Siabai councilor in Kuria East says.
To show the potential of the area, within the past two months the area have been a flurry of activities with New Ford Kenya presidential aspirants Eugene Wamalwa and United Democratic Front’s Musalia Mudavadi; and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi having a extensive road campaign in Kuria while giving a wide berth Luo section of Migori county.
Within this period UDF opened their county offices at Mabera town where Mudavadi was made a Kuria elder and christened ‘Mwita Chacha’, New Ford Kenya opened county offices at Isebania town while Kanu which has its National Vice Chairman and Kuria East legislative aspirants Shadrack Manga, who is also a former MP, opening two offices in Kehancha and Ntimaru towns.
This follows prior opening at Kehancha of Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya county offices and ODM Kuria branch offices with the activities expected to hot up with the run up to next general elections.
“With the demand by constitution to get at least 5% of votes in each counties there is a possibility of Kuria being an alternative in Migori County as a launching pad for parties hungry for votes in ODM turf to use it as a major base to campaign within the area” Thomas Mwita Maeta ward Kanu councilor and ward respective aspirant in next election explains.
Additionally internecine rivalry within the clans brought by cattle rustling and frequent war for land and posts can also be used by politicians to get their party officials to be elected irrespective of the party as long as they get the right member of the clan to stand.
But ODM sensing this loophole has resorted to ‘soft-politics’ of embracing the Kuria community within the county as neighbours brought together by the new county offices.
“We have an office in Kehancha specifically for Kuria region and also our county chairman John Meng’anyi Magaiwa is from Kuria, a post he took in the grass roots elections even when some politicians wanted to field a luo for the post” Joseph Olala the ODM county secretary says.
There have been options within local ODM party members to give an ‘acclamation ticket’ between the majority Luo and minority Kuria which fear being with elections being just a rubber stamp for their choice

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