Budalangi Constituency: New candidates change equation for MP

Two new entrants in the race for Budalangi parliamentary seat held by Water assistant minister Raphael Wanjala has changed the equation.

Candidates who have declared interest for the seat would have to go back to the drawing board after entry of Mr Raphael Namudi Wanyama and Mr George Okado.

And Mr Wanjala victory in an election petition filed by Mr Peter Onalo has boosted his fortunes and given him the greenlight to embark on re-election campaigns.

Sugar company

Mr Okado and Ms Cynthia Mutero Kwedho will be fighting for the Narc-K ticket though the party is yet to take root in the region.

Mr Wanyama is a former procurement manager at Mumias Sugar Company.

He will be facing his nephew, Nairobi based lawyer Ababu Namwamba and are likely to split votes in Bunyala South where they come from.

But first, Mr Namwamba will have to fight for the ODM-K ticket with Mr John Osogo, son of former MP James Osogo.

Mr Wanyama who is yet to declare his political party, says he is still weighing his options.

His entry is eating into Mr Namwamba’s perceived stronghold.

He has been calling for proper use of constituency development funds and measures to prevent frequent floods in the area.

Mr Wanyama,58, worked with East Africa community until 1977.

He was redeployed to various ministries as a procurement officer after the organisation collapsed before he moved to Mumias.

Mr Wanjala enjoys substantial following but re-alignments among key political parties could change his fortunes.

ODM-Kenya and Narc-Kenya are yet to find equilibrium and Ford-Kenya which the assistant minister supports, is yet to get its footing in emerging alliances.

Mr Wanjala is likely to opt for a political group that is acceptable to his constituents.

Flower party

Mr Namwamba enjoys considerable support from young people but it is not clear if this will translate into votes come election day.

Ford-K has goodwill in the area due to wrangles in ODM-K and uncertainty in Narc-K. Even as the flower party competes with the Orange group, it is unpopular among Budalangi residents.

It widely held that President Kibaki defend his seat on Narc-K ticket but he has not made a personal declaration in support of the party, creating anxiety on its flag-bearer a few months to the polls.

On the other hand, wrangles in ODM-Kenya have derailed efforts to identify a presidential candidate.

Mr Wanjala’s party leader, Local Government minister Musikari Kombo declared he will be in contest for State House, but his support for President Kibaki sends mixed signals.

Mr Wanjala is popular for visiting the area frequently and addressing people’s problems.

Planned opening of Port Victoria market today by President Kibaki is expected to be major boost for him.

His style of politics, bringing together supporters of former MPs Mr Osogo and the late Peter Okondo has endeared him to people.

The assistant minister also claims he had started many CDF projects in the area to benefit his constituents.

Mr Namwamba is expected to be the minister’s key opponent due to support from ODM presidential candidates Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi who have visited the area and went around with him.

However, he has been accused of flying on the ODM principals’ wings.

Further, he has been criticised for ignoring elderly voters and of rarely visiting the region unless there are ODM rallies. However, the lawyer has been supporting farming activities at Bunyala irrigation scheme.

He has set up the Ababu Namwamba Foundation to sponsor less fortunate children access education.

Mr Osogo’s campaigns were slowed down when he lost his wife recently but he has returned making appearances.

His youthfulness endears him to youngsters, but he will have to convince voters that he is not riding on his family’s big name.

Ms Kwedho is a common face in Budalangi is believed to have the blessing of Narc-K secretary-general Dr Mukhisa Kituyi. “I believe I will be able to get that seat as women leaders understand issues that affect them and children very well,” she says.

Irrigation scheme

Poor road network in is set to among issues candidates will be raising.

That is why ongoing construction of 75 kilometres Bumala-Port -Victoria road likely to ease transportation of fish and rice, will be another plus for Mr Wanjala.

In addition, the MP will stake claim to success of Bunyala irrigation scheme and booming fish industry. Improved health facilities, construction of more classes using CDF money may earn him support.

Nairobi lawyer Peter Onalo has not declared whether he will contest the seat after losing the petition.

Mr Okado, a computer expert based in Nairobi, launched his campaigns late but could catch up with the rest given his fast pace.

However, development records, allocation of CDF money and choice of political parties will be among key determining issues for one’s victory.

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