Westlands Constituency: Gumo and Tett to renew rivalry

Archrivals Fred Gumo and Betty Tett are bracing themselves for another bruising battle. Twice in the past have the two politicians fought for the Nairobi seat like the Khayega bulls.

The fight came to the fore for the first time in the 1997 vote counting, which went on for hours until Mr Gumo was declared the winner.

The seat has a history of occasionally electing politicians of Asian origin, and this time it has attracted businessman Kamlesh Pattni, his former lawyer Mr Aurelio Rebelo, a son of former MP Amin Walji, Ashif, who is running on a Kanu ticket.

Dr Josephine Ojiambo the secretary-general of Keiyo South MP Nicholas Biwott’s Kanu faction, is also in the race.

Also running is IT expert Jonathan Mueke, Mr Baba Ndege Wandiri and Ms Kavetsa Adagala.

Mrs Tett, an assistant minister for Housing, believes she has been robbed of the seat twice through what she calls rigging. In 2002, for instance, she was prevailed upon not to contest the seat and rally behind Mr Gumo, the Narc candidate, to ensure party victory.

Before she stepped down, she had gone around the constituency and gained quiet some support, which was a threat to Mr Gumo’s chances.

Spirit of team work

“I stepped down in the spirit of team work since everything had to be done to remove Kanu from power,” she says.

But it is the 1997 polls that she remembers with bitterness when the DP contestant lost to Mr Gumo by a margin of five votes.

Mr Gumo garnered 17,882 against her 17,877 after several recounts.

At the 2002 Narc nomination, the battle reared its ugly face again with violence scenes in which several supporters were injured. The supporters also beat up nomination officials and took away ballot papers, leading to a cancellation.

In a surprise turn of events, Narc leaders pressured Mrs Tett to step down for Mr Gumo, promising to nominate her to Parliament should the party form the government, and the scheme worked.

But this time round, she says she is ready to face her rivals, including Mr Gumo, without fear as she believes she is the best person to represent Westlands.

“I have suffered more than anyone else fighting for this seat,” she says. “Nothing will stop me from getting it.”

One thing she is happy about and considers a breakthrough is the fact that votes are by law now counted at the polling stations. Before 2002, ballot boxes would be ferried, for vote counting, to a central place, usually the divisional headquarters. It has since been discovered hat the arrangement leaves room for cheating and other irregularities.

Mrs Tett believes that the current system also makes counting more transparent.

But Mr Gumo won’t be cowed. He says he is ready to face his opponents and fight to the bitter end. He became the Kitale mayor at the age of 27 and served for six years before quitting to vie for the then Kitale East parliamentary seat.

He defeated Mr Masinde Muliro, who has since died, in a controversial election which was later nullified through a petition.

Mr Gumo became chairman of the Nairobi city commission in 1989 after the council was dissolved. He then shifted base to his rural home constituency in Busia district in 1992, but lost to Mr James Osogo. He moved to Westlands for the 1996 by-election following the death of Mr Walji and won by a paltry 1,200 votes, the lowest then since the reintroduction of multipartyism. Since then, it has been a battle between him and Mrs Tett.

But as the two scheme to outsmart each other, another hopeful claims that the Westlands residents feel the two MPs have nothing by way of development to show for their representation.

Dr Ojiambo says the gap between the poor and the rich has continued to widen.

The constituency is the home of who is who in Kenya. Even State House is in the constituency.

Its leafy neighbourhoods include Loresho, Kileleshwa, Highridge, Kyuna, Lavington, Parklands, Runda, Muthaiga, Westlands itself, Kilimani and Kitusuru, to name but a few.

On the other hand, it has slums such as Kangemi, Gichagi, Ndumbuini and Kawangware. Dr Ojiambo says Mr Gumo and Mrs Tett should watch her as she is determined to grab the seat.

In an incident before the 2002 polls and when was the deputy campaign coordinator of the then ruling party, Kanu, she remembers being called upon to address a group of unkempt Mungiki followers who wished to be allowed to direct the outcome of the party nominations in Laikipia district.

“They came and took over our KICC (Kenyata International Conference Centre) office and camped there,” she says. “Many of the officers, including the men, took off. I was left alone in the offices for two days, with the Mungiki in the building.

At first I was really terrified when I realised that I was all alone with these people. But then I have this ability to turn fear into a challenge.”

The experience alone speaks volumes of Dr Ojiambo’s character; she is fiercely independent and a non-conformist.

When Kanu lost power even at a time when it had been clear that it was headed for an electoral defeat, Dr Ojiambo did not waver.

Not even her mother, ODM Kenya presidential hopeful Julia, could make her change her mind. She had earlier been elected Kanu secretary for gender affairs, being the only woman holding a senior position in the party.

She later shifted alliance to the Biwott faction, but shrugs off the suggestion that her position is mere tokenism, arguing that she has been in Kanu for the past 16 years.

Dr Ojiambo considers Westlands her home, having been born in the area in 1961. She later went to Alliance girls high school in Kikuyu in 1979, where she completed her A levels before proceeding to the University of Nairobi to study medicine.

After graduating in 1985, she worked for the city council and later got a scholarship for a masters degree course in public health. She promises to break the culture of people working for elected leaders instead of for the people.

Mr Mueke says his vision is to create opportunities to improve the residents’ economic situation.

“I shall pay special attention to the slums within the constituency in an effort to ensure that homes and markets are humanitarian and include basic facilities such as toilets, water and pathways,” he says.

Mr Pattni, the Kenya National Democratic Alliance (Kenda) chairman, will be fighting against his former lawyer, Mr Rebelo.

They are counting on the Asian vote as there is a formidable presence of the community in the constituency.

He says his main aim if elected is to uplift the residents’ living standards. Also in his plans is to set up a bursary fund and help the unemployed to get jobs.

Mr Pattni will use his position of chairman of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to bring in investors and build more factories.

“I’m identifying land which I will buy and set up factories alongside my friends across the world,” he pledges.

He is not running to seek power but to serve the people, he says, adding: “If it was about power, I was offered a nomination slot in 1992, but declined. I had a chance then.”

Mr Wandiri will be seeking the seat on a Republican Party ticket, while Ms Adagala says she will use her experience at the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission to help Westlands.

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One Response to Westlands Constituency: Gumo and Tett to renew rivalry

kirenge said...


As i fix my gaze on the happenings in the post independent Kenya,with all sectors well included in my
failing binocular view,I must admit we are only taking some cliques somewhhere but the majority
are just blindly walking.

Either moving forward beccause the legs are involuntarily moving, or a response
to the Bernoulli's effect exerted by the country's evil fat cats
My focus seeks to expose the larger political scene where fat cats
have been scoring high in the category of "organized crime".

Ever since I was weaned,I have been learning that if you want political and economic excellence in Kenya, all
you have to do is to:-
Establish a fire fighting company,torch an estate/building at night and then fight the fire so that ua brother
in the goverment office gets you paid.
Establish a maize importing firm,ensure no farmer reaps or poison all grain silos then tell your friend in the
Ministry to help you win the evil tender.
Win the electorate hearts by stealing from their granaries at nght and show up with the same loot as relief
food very early the next morning fully clad in dishonest generosity.
Such is the Kenya we have and surprisingly the state we want! God help us.

It is imperative here,to realise that we have a densely interwoven web of public looting and ill motivated projects
being launched on daily basis in the name of kazi kwa wananchi but the core business is to satisfy some rogues
who score highly in the fat cats listings.

Thus you will always see some silly kenyans-(not out of choice but owing to the depletion of the grey matter in the
uppermost cabin they call the cranium) queuing for handouts to make them think who should lead them...and apparently
it works for some folks because the number of votes is usually directly proportional to the convexity of the politicians'
pot belly(read corruption curve).

However all is not lost since we have some few thinkers on board.Always hoping Kenyans change their attitude.
And thats why I'll vie and comfortably enlighten the electorate in Mathioya that they vote for real change the American
way and shun vote trading.

Have a reflective day.Also learn to speak fearlessly,respectfully and tackle issues head-on.May God bless the forum

Dr Kenneth Kirenge Muchiri ,
B.V.M ( NRB)
Email: kirengeken@gmail.com
Tel: +254 720 402 900
+254 738 159 057