Kanduyi Constituency: Over a dozen rivals against Wamunyinyi

Kanduyi, represented by Mr Wafula Wamunyinyi, is among constituencies in the entire Bungoma region where a vocabulary reminiscent of the 1992 multi-party elections is gaining currency — Change.

The list of candidates has topped 13 aspirants lining up to challenge him in the December poll.

And every candidate is walking around the constituency emphasising the message “babandu benya chenji” (people want change).

Candidates in Bungoma used to campaign in the past only to ensure that they get the Ford Kenya party ticket as an automatic vehicle to Parliament.

It is different strokes this time round.

Voters have become wiser and are rooting for candidates with credentials, who are likely to perform better than previous representatives at the local and national levels.

The seriousness was demonstrated on August 6 when Ford-K delegates from the constituency resolved that ordinary members of the party directly participate in the nomination of the parliamentary candidate. The party’s choice will then battle it out with candidates from other competing parties .

Now, Mr Wamunyinyi will initially fight for the party ticket with businessman Wafula Maelo, former intelligence spy Ben Wanyonyi and ex-Israeli trained commando Paul Sichangi Makhanu

Introduce thuggery

Mr Makhanu is former State House security operative during the Moi regime.

He is a late entrant in the race, who has vowed that he has what it takes to counter any moves to introduce thuggery by some of his rivals.

He is campaigning in the constituency warning people that he will counter any violence in a bid to win the seat.

“Kanduyi is not a reserved seat, and our people have the right to elect who they want,” he said.

Mr Wamunyinyi made his debut in 1997 through Ford Kenya.

He was to be swept back by the Narc euphoria easily in 2002, beating Mr Alfred Khang’ati of Ford People and Mr Emmanuel Tiboti of Kanu.

Political temperatures are already high following recent claims by Mr Maelo that some Ford Kenya politicians were planning to unleash terror during the campaign period.

He even suggested that this will happen in the entire Bungoma region using “youths who have been undergoing military training in a neighbouring country”.

He was prevailed upon to write a statement at the Bungoma police station by security chiefs, but he never withdrew the remarks, which have been a subject of police investigation since.

Mr Wamunyinyi’s voters in the traditional strongholds of Kibabii, Bukembe, the Township and East Bukusu, are already re-aligning themselves with the entry into the Ford Kenya nomination by the three aspirants.

He will have to fight tooth and nail to regain the foothold he had in the past.

Mr Maelo is counting on the populous Balunda clan in Bukembe and East Bukusu. This is where the Ford Kenya chairman Mr Musikari Kombo, in neighbouring Webuye, comes from.

This alone, plus the shifting of alignments in the municipality, could be a serious threat to Mr Wamunyinyi’s survival.

That aside, Mr Makhanu, who hails from Kongoli near Nzoia Sugar Company, will draw away crucial votes from the Batecho clan as will Mr Wanyonyi, who is out to exploit support from his paternal Bakunga clan and maternal Balunda clan too.

After Mr Wamunyinyi sorts out the Ford-K ticket, then he will have to contend with stiff opposition from three other key aspirants. One of them is his own brother-in-law Juma Mukhwana, who is the Kanduyi Narc-Kenya chairman.

He has gone flat out to deny him votes from his traditional base in Kibabii location.

Mr Mukhwana says he joined Narc-K because he did not want to miss the boat.

Is also controversial

Although he is being seen as an outsider by virtue of his roots in neighbouring Sirisia, he counters it saying he was born at Kibabii.

The Government’s plan to start construction of the Sh1.74 billion Kibabii College this month, after 30 years of waiting, is a credit to the MP.

But it is also controversial given that the first batch of trainees, expected to be admitted next month, will be hosted at the Family Life Training Centre at Tuuti.

It is at this same centre where Sacred Africa and Moi University were to begin offering diploma courses this month. The NGO’s five-year lease was declared “unprocedural” by Bungoma South district commissioner Osman Warfa.

Mr Mukhwana and his supporters pointed accusing fingers at the MP.

Nonetheless, he will fight for the Narc Kenya party with the Law Society of Kenya Bungoma chapter chairman John Makali.

Mr Makali says: “I am firmly in the race and stand by my earlier resolution that time for change in Kanduyi has come.”

The eloquent lawyer, who enjoys support within Bungoma municipality, will be also counting on support from the Balukuru and Bameme clans where his parents come from.

The cosmopolitan nature of the municipality may see each of the candidates earn a slice of the huge vote.

Mr Mukania, who missed going to Parliament in 1997 by a whisker, is also chasing the Narc-K ticket.

He was elbowed out from the Nzoia Outgrowers Company (Noco) where he was general manager and went to business.

He will be counting on the sympathy support of cane growers from around his Bukembe home and the Batecho clan vote, which he will share with Mr Wanyonyi.

The secretary general of the Kenya Union of Civil Servants, Mr Khang’ati, whom Mr Wamunyinyi beat, is a late entry into the race.

Mr Khang’ati, who had earlier on indicated he was shifting his political base to Nairobi, has finally returned to launch quiet campaigns in Bungoma Town and his East Bukusu stronghold.

The unionist is reported to be eyeing the ODM Kenya ticket that is also being contested by former Nzoia Sugar Company managing director Francis Wabuke .

Kanduyi, where the sugar factory is located, is a major cane growing zone whose farmers suffered greatly for a five-year spell when company management was unable to make prompt payments for cane deliveries.

Recent appointments of people thought to be MPs’ friends to Nzoia Sugar board, the dominance of so called outsiders in employment in the firm, besides the control of lucrative supplies contracts by a select group, will be hot campaign issues.

Successful crusade

The recent successful crusade against the Nzoia CEO and his replacement is just a pointer to things to come. It was spearheaded by farmers and Kenya Union of Sugar Plantation Workers.

Failure by the Government to revive the Kitinda dairy plant in Bungoma Town that collapsed more than a decade ago, which catered for dairy farmers from the entire Bungoma and Mt Elgon districts, will raise its ugly head again.

Besides, watchers are keen to know the fate of the planned upgrading of the Sang’alo Institute of Science and Technology into a constituent college of the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) that seems to have stalled.

What is more, the local business community’s demand improved infrastructure, better roads, electricity supply have fallen on deaf ears.

The manner in which election of Ford Kenya officials in Kanduyi was conducted, with perceived disloyal elements removed from the register, sparked off protests.

Aspiring parliamentary candidates eager to challenge the MP were locked out of the party and consequently left to find new vehicles for their campaigns.

The defectors

Although Mr Kombo asked those who left to return, none among the defectors has returned.

Other aspirants in the race are Mr Wanyonyi Waswa, Mr Mulunda Khaoya, the son to a former MP Joseph Khaoya and Mr Geoffrey Njukhilile.

Mr Francis Waswa Mungo, the executive officer of Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association, who hails from Kibabii, has also joined the race on a Kaddu ticket.

Another late entrant is the chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Mr Fredrick Nyongesa Chirure.

Mr Chirure is also a resident of Kibabii location.

He will be seeking the ODM-K ticket, which is also being sought by a former MP Lawrence Sifuna.

The former fiery MP will be counting on votes from Bamutilu clan.

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