A daughter of the late cabinet minister in the founding president Jomo Kenyatta’s administration Mbiyu Koinange, Leah Koinange, has entered the race to replace her late brother, Paul Koinange, as the MP for Kiambaa. Leah’s entry complicates matters for the Jubilee party leader, Uhuru Kenyatta, given the blood ties between them. This is because Uhuru’s father, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s third wife, Grace Wanjiku was the daughter of Senior Chief Koinange and sister to Mbiyu Koinange, former powerful cabinet minister. The late MP, Paul Koinange, was Mbiyu’s son. Other members of the Koinange family holding or have held influential posts include current Attorney General Kihara Kariuki. The AG’s mother is Lilian Wairimu Koinange, the wife of Anglican Bishop Obadiah Kariuki. Insiders revealed the president is torn between rewarding the Koinange family by ensuring the seat that was held by one of their members goes back to them. On the other hand, the president is faced with demands from Kiambaa residents for Jubilee Party primaries to be free and fair which might see a non-member of the Koinange family win the ticket.
For now, Leah will battle for the Jubilee Party ticket with other hopefuls who include businessman and political leader many consider as the frontrunner, Kariri Njama and at least seven other candidates. Chief among those who are aspiring to succeed Koinange are businessman-cum-politician Njama, Kiambu county Liaison director Damaris Wambui Waiganjo, US-based Raymond Kuria and Kiambu women rep loser Lydia Njeri Ndung’u. Njama, who appears to be among the frontrunners, contested for Jubilee Party ticked in 2017 and after losing to Koinange, he returned in the race as an unsuccessful independent candidate. Njama has a strong link to the Hustler Nation movement having hosted William Ruto but has disowned the second in command after he fell out with the president. Njama lost to Paul Koinange in 2017 when he garnered 15,505 votes the late MP’s 60,166. For Raymond Kuria, he will be making a third stab at the seat having vied unsuccessfully in the 2013 and 2017 general elections. The US-based man has run twice for the seat losing in the 2013 elections when he got only 2,582 votes and in 2017 when he lost in the party primaries stage. Recently, he seemed to have warmed up to the Hustler Nation but has also denied links with the deputy president after the latter fell out with Uhuru. For Damaris Wambui, the Kiambu liasion director, she is a niece of the late MP and will be making her first debut in politics.
Wambui previously worked with the Jubilee during the 2017 general elections and will likely enjoy access to the dominant party backing as well as financial resources to mount a formidable campaign. The four top aspirants, through their backers have already been circulating their images online to test the waters ahead of the real showdown. Other potential aspirants include Richard Njoroge, Charles Munyui, Josephat Kamanya, Evans Gichia, Lucy Wanjiru and Julie Waweru who unsuccessfully contested for the Kiambu county speaker’s seat in 2014. Others in the race include Evans Gichia who has contested thrice without success. Former Muchatha ward rep Peter Kiarie and his former nominated counterpart Sarah Kamithi, Richard Njoroge, Njuguna wa Wanjiku and Lucy Wanjiru are also eyeing the seat. According to political experts, party primaries are likely to be the determining factor on whether the ruling party, Jubilee, will successfully defend the seat. The Koinange family is said to be backing Leah. The contest is already promising to be bruising with candidates and their backers fighting each other over associations with Uhuru and Ruto who has been keen to make inroads to advance his 2022 chances, as well as links with Kiambu county government as they seek to advance their chances.
Njama and Kuria have already denied having links with Ruto, with the former saying even though he was hosted by the DP at his Karen they are not buddies. For Eric Mutura has been running Bunge Mashinani, a movement that organised community meetings that operated like a parliamentary session where electorate voiced development concerns and held elected leaders to account. Mutura will be making a third trial. During the 2013 elections, Mutura emerged second having contested on Grand National Unity party associated with Mwangi Kiunjuri while in 2017 he was third in the party primaries after Koinange and Njama. Munyui who at one point was a personal assistant of former larger Kiambaa MP Stanley Githunguri in 2007-2012 will make a third attempt with the constituency where regional (Kiambaa and Kihara) and clan tags are factors. Already Kanu has ruled out fielding a candidate but instead is rooting for Njama to be given the Jubilee ticket, arguing he is the most suitable. Speaking to the press in Kiambu town, Kanu executive director George Wainaina said in the spirit of their alliance with Jubilee and consultations with Kiambaa residents, they have resolved to back the ruling party’s candidate for the seat. Wainaina was councillor on a Kanu ticket in the 1990s. “Kanu has joined hands with other leaders who include Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress Musalia Mudavadi, FordKenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and also President Uhuru Kenyatta is with us in the alliance. Kanu will not field a candidate for Kiambaa,” said Wainaina.