Saturday, September 5, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
September 4, 2009

Now we know; that there are politicians and there are politicians in Kenyan politics. One lot makes a lot of noise expounding on their imaginary popularity, the other wins the votes. Now I can believe what my primary school teachers used to tell us a long time ago; that empty debes make a lot of noise, more noise than debes stuffed with foodstuffs.

The Bomachoge- Shinyalu elections, told us something else; without Kibaki, PNU is a dead party. If Kibaki does not campaign for a candidate in a by- election, that candidate has a 70% chance of losing the vote. In other words, you can rally Kalonzo, Saitoti, Uhuru, Kiraitu, Ruto, Ongeri and Magara to campaign for a candidate. That candidate will still surely lose unless Kibaki throws his weight behind him.

The seat that PNU lost to ODM in Bomachoge was the party’s for the asking. It took it during the 2007 elections. It was one of the early casualties of the rigged elections. Now the man who petitioned the High Court has been rewarded with his perseverance and resolve to have justice take its course.

The intriguing thing about Bomachoge was the obvious fear that ODM was going to the polls a divided party with at least two leading lights openly refusing to play ball and secretly campaigning for candidates of other parties. They could very well have had their reasons for being lukewarm to the ODM candidate but Omingo Magara and William Ruto, treasurer and deputy party chairman respectively did not campaign for their party candidate. It is my considered opinion that had the party candidate lost the vote, they would not have lost their sleep over it.

If the Bomachoge vote was a popularity contest between ODM and PNU, the latter lost. If it was between William Ruto and Magara on one hand against Raila and Chris Obure, then again the former lost. Now they know who calls the shots in Nyanza politics- not just Luo Nyanza.

The Shinyalu contest was Musalia Mudavadi’s fight against the self-styled king of Luhya politics- Cyrus Jirongo. Jirongo seems to be the most overrated politician in Western Province. He has this belief that he can make or break any leading politician in that region. This is the reason he has persistently antagonized and even insulted politicians like Musikari Kombo and Musalia Mudavadi even though given a chance; he has always performed dismally despite being rumored to have plenty of cash.

The Shinyalu by-election gave another opportunity for these political minions to flex the muscles. And given the fractured nature of the PNU conglomerate, it was left to Jirongo’s KADDU to wrestle the ODM to the ground in ODM turf. It was not to be. The PNU alliance’s last great hope came a poor third with a margin of 11,000 votes while Jirongo’s candidate, despite a better performance than PNU, still trailed behind by 9000 votes.

But there were other big time losers too that must now go back to the drawing board if they have to continue playing relevant politics. They include Musikari Kombo whose dismal performance as Ford Kenya party leader must be responsible for the poor showing of the Ford Kenya candidate.

The Shinyalu by-election must have made the work of dislodging Kombo from the party helm by the likes of Moses Wetangula and Eugene Wamalwa much easier.

Other parties that must think twice about their future in Kenyan politics are KANU and NARC Kenya that have been contemplating fielding presidential candidates in 2012. Now Martha Karua has come to terms with the reality of elective politics at the national level. Now she is realizing that it is much easier to make noise in Mt. Kenya region but another ball game altogether wooing voters from other regions.

The reactions from the losers’ side have been telling. For a change, elections losers have not cried foul like in the past. This time round, George Thuo, Dick Wathika and Metropolitan Minister Githae, all of PNU have castigated their parties rather than the winners. Githae even went further to celebrate the ODM victory in Mombasa. In my opinion, this is a positive development in Kenyan politics where losers can be sporty enough to congratulate winners. I hope next time ODM loses an election; party members will be able to reciprocate the gesture.

However, there is one thing these Bomachoge- Shinyalu elections proved; that Kenyans still have faith in ODM, with Raila Odinga still resonating well with the voters; a pointer that he can dare to go to the voters directly and still get their support. Another thing that came out was that the loudest politicians may be talking to themselves thinking they are talking to Kenyans. Omingo Magara and Cyrus Jirongo have just learnt that the hard way.