Makueni Constituency: Twenty hopefuls eye Kibwana’s job in Makueni

Prof Kivutha Kibwana, who rose from political activism to become the Makueni MP and later a Cabinet minister, faces the biggest test in his quest for re-election.

When the whistle is finally blown, Prof Kibwana will be facing more than 20 contenders, including two former MPs, a judge, a former provincial commissioner, lawyers and a host of other wealthy opponents.

Former MP and East African Court of Justice judge Justice Kassanga Mulwa is back. And so is Mr Peter Maundu.

Other big names are ODM Kenya registered chairman Mr Daniel Maanzo, former PC Mr Peter Kiilu, university lecturers Prof Peter Lewa and Dr Pius Mutuku Mutie, and Mr Maurice Musomba.

Others are: lawyer Onesmus Makau, Ms Caroline Malinda, Mr Ben Malila, Mr Mbithi Muthoka, businessman Mr Munyao Kamba, Eng Titus Ndunda, Mr Nzioka King’ola, Mr Ben Munyasya, Mr Mike Mwana a’Nziu, Mr Joshua Wambua, Mr Livingstone Wambua, Mr Simon Nthumbi, Mr Mutua Syumwenza and the son of former Chief of General Staff the late Joseph Ndolo, Mr Matata Ndolo.

Makueni has more than 90,000 registered voters to date.

The battle for votes has always pitted Kathonzweni Division, which had more than 28,000 voters as at last month against Mbitini which had listed 24,000.

Prof Kibwana is from Mbitini, where Justice Mulwa, Mr Kiilu and Mr Muthoka also come from.

The only MP from Kathonzweni was Stephen Kyonda (1988-1992). People from the division now say it is their turn.

Kathonzweni has Dr Mutie, Mr Maanzo, the two Mr Wambuas and Mr Nthumbi.

Elders have been holding meetings to try and persuade the contenders to back one of them to face the candidates from the other areas.

Prof Kibwana appears to have lost the goodwill that saw him win the seat in 2002.

His opponents are taking advantage of his Taveta roots to brand him an “outsider”.

Prof Kibwana has been involved in a crusade to settle squatters in the constituency in the last four years.

This bold move has won him enemies as well as friends.

But one of the things that has angered some of his constituents is his opposition to Mr Kalonzo Musyoka’s quest for the presidency. He has been one of Mr Musyoka’s major critics.

Then there is the implementation of the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) projects, which each of the aspirants is questioning.

The projects include the Sh3m set aside for the construction of a mortuary which has not taken off, the Sh5m for a DO’s office and the incomplete Ndukuma Dam.

The minister is even facing rebellion within the constituency development committee, led by Mr Munyao Kamba, who is also running against him.

The CDC even sacked the treasurer who is believed to be allied to the MP and replaced him.

Mr Kamba is a wealthy man with businesses in Machakos and Makueni. His family played a crucial role during in the 2002 Narc campaigns where his elder brother Mr Peter Kamba was President Kibaki’s campaign coordinator in Makueni.

If new constituencies will be created before the elections, there is a likelihood of a new constituency called Nguu and Prof Kibwana will sigh with relief as the people of Kathonzweni and Wote divisions have been hostile to him.

But he will still have to deal with Mr Kiilu, Mr Muthoka and Prof Lewa, among other contenders.

Dr Mutie, 39, has initiated some new water projects and helped rehabilitate others. These include boreholes at Kiangini, Malivani and Makueni Boys secondary schools. He is concentrating on a sub-surface dam in River Kaiti to solve the perennial water problem in Wote Town.

It is said that Water minister Mutua Katuku, who was his student at the university, has been helping him.

Mr Maanzo enjoys a close relationship with ODM-K presidential hopeful Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, and could spoil the party for Dr Mutie.

There are even fears that he could influence the ODM-K nominations to favour him. But the lawyer who calls himself a democrat says he is not bent on doing such a thing.

Mr Maundu, who comes from Wote, represented Makueni for two terms. He is back but people seem to have written him off.

Mr Malila, 32, is a businessman who plies between Kenya and China. His curriculum vitae appears to end where those of most of the other aspirants begin; he is a Form Four certificate holder.

He argues that the constituency has had highly learned MPs in the past but poverty still abounds.

Mr Kiilu is making his first attempt in politics after serving as PC in the Moi regime and retiring when Narc came to power. It will be interesting to see how he competes with Prof Kibwana.

Ms Malinda is a niece of one-time MP Mr Thomas Malinda. She says male MPs have let the Makueni constituents down.

Mr Muthoka comes from Kalamba in Matiliku Division and was a Kenya Revenue Authority employee before going into business.

Justice Mulwa served three terms as area MP. He is due to retire from the regional court next month and has enough resources to mount a formidable campaign.

Mr Ndolo is a lay pastor with the African Inland Church (AIC) and has unsuccessfully contested in the past elections.

Mr Miliku is the local Liberal Democratic Party branch chairman and teaches at the Catholic University, where he is a head of department.

Mr Ndunda, who comes from Kathonzweni Division, is an expert in Water and Structural Engineering in the Ministry of Water, while Mr King’ola works with a non-governmental organisation.

Mr Syumwenza, from Matiliku, is related to Mr Muthoka. He has unsuccessfully contested the seat twice. He is a former manager with a local bank and runs an insurance firm in Nairobi.

Prof Lewa teaches at USIU and has been involved in social and economic activities that have endeared him to the youth and women voters in the region.

Mr Musomba comes from Nziu in Matiliku Division. Mr Mike Mwana a’Nzivu is a former chairman with the Kenya Karate Do Association.

Mr Onesmus Makau is a lawyer based at Machakos Town while Mr Munyasia is the “perennial aspirant” who runs and loses every time.

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