With about a month left before the much anticipated Kibra by-election, which follows the death of area MP Ken Okoth, discussions on who will carry the day have intensified and the hotly contested election is being considered a preview of how the 2022 General Election will play out.
The Kibra by-election, slated for November 7, has drawn the interest of 24 candidates but only two of them, former footballer McDonald Mariga and ODM’s Imram Okoth are on the spotlight.
While Mariga has been attracting huge crowds during his campaigns making him seem like the popular candidate, here is why he will not win:
Kenyan politics are a hereditary affair
An interesting trend in Kenyan politics is that political positions often turn into family hand-me-down situations. This is evidenced even in the most powerful position, the Presidency.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is after all the son of Kenya’s founding father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Recently deceased Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso inherited the Sotik parliamentary seat from her sister, Lorna, who died in a plane crash in 2008.
Makueni Senator, Mutula Kilonzo Junior, was similarly elected to the position taking over from his deceased father, Mutula Kilonzo.
Mariga’s biggest rival in the oncoming mini polls is Imram Okoth, who is the late area MP Okoth’s brother. Going by this theory, Mariga really stands no chance.
The strongholds theory
Every major political party in Kenya has its regional strongholds and although some areas’ political standings are not clearly spelt out, everyone knows that Kibra has always been an ODM fort.
In fact, other political parties are always afraid to field candidates for major positions in the constituency such as the parliamentary one.
Mariga eyeing the Kibra MP seat is not a problem, him eyeing the seat under a party other than the dominant ODM is the problem.
Football to leadership, really?
At the end of the day, it is important to actually weigh the impact the winning leader will have on the area in question. Kibra has always been in the spotlight for lagged development and insecurity issues.
In the oncoming by-election, what any sane voter should be looking for in a leader is their potential to bring positive change to Kibra, such as getting the area unlisted as the largest urban slum settlement in Africa.
To achieve this, planning, budgetary, and people management skills are required and Mariga does not fit these criteria. As a football star, he is more used to implementing strategies created by his coaches and managers.
Leadership requires more proactive input into the process.
His candidature is a betrayal of ‘the handshake’
The essence of the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader, Raila Odinga, was to show political unity between the two political giants.
Jubilee Party allowing Mariga to run against ODM is totally in bad taste and Kibra voters, and the ODM faction as a whole, definitely feel betrayed. This is bound to affect Mariga’s numbers when the day of reckoning comes.
Mariga Vs Imram: The scorecard
There is a joke among Kenyans that Mariga is only after the Kibra MP seat because with the de-registration of betting company Betin, in whose advertisements he featured, the former footballer is now basically jobless.
His key rival, Imram, on the other hand, has been in the background of Kibra politics for a while now, having been in charge of the area development programs for over two years.
Weighing the chances of both candidates based on their historical scorecard, Imram emerges as the better candidate but it remains to be seen who, among the many candidates vying for the seat, the Kibra electorate will pick.