Whether political heavyweights in Homa Bay will nip former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero in the bud in his quest to shift base to the Southern Nyanza axis remains to be seen. Those eyeing to succeed Governor Cyprian Awiti are close to ODM leader Raila Odinga hence a big headache to the party leader on who to back.
Already Kidero’s entry into the Homa Bay gubernatorial race now appears to be making political equations of two ODM political bigwigs extremely difficult. Kidero is making the clan political arithmetic of Suba South MP John Mbadi and woman representative Gladys Wanga hard as they fight to succeed Awiti who is serving his second and final term in office. Mbadi is the ODM national chairman while Wanga is the party chairperson in Homa Bay. The two politicians have outrightly declared their interest for the seat and already set the campaign balls rolling in the county.
They are perceived as bigwigs because of their seniority and positions they hold in the national assembly. Mbadi is the minority leader while Wanga is the chairperson of the finance committee. They are also vocal politicians both in local and national issues. The aspirants are currently doing campaigns to enable them galvanise their clan and support ahead of party nominations. Any aspirant who will manage to fully rally their clan behind them and get support from people outside their clan will emerge the winner during the ODM nomination.
Besides Kidero, Mbadi and Wanga others in the race are deputy governor Hamilton Orata, former Kasipul MP Oyugi Magwanga, businessman Jared Kiasa, county secretary Isaiah Ogwe and Kuppet secretary general Akelo Misori. It is in the clannism equation that the candidature of Kidero is spoiling for both Wanga and Mbadi. Ahead of 2013 general elections, Homa Bay leaders allegedly entered into a deal which enabled them to share power among regions. The regions include Rachuonyo, which produced Governor Awiti, Homa Bay region had woman representative and deputy governor Wanga and Orata respectively while Suba region produced Senator Otieno Kajwang. Both Rachuonyo and Homa Bay regions have three constituencies each while Suba has two constituencies. Constituencies in Rachuonyo include Kabondo Kasipul, Karachuonyo and Kasipul.
Homa Bay has Rangwe, Homa Bay Town and Ndhiwa while Suba has Suba North and Suba South constituencies. During 2013 ODM nominations, it was realised that each region stood with their man who contested governor seat. Rachuonyo people overwhelmingly voted for Awiti while people from Homa Bay region rallied behind Philip Okundi to have the party ticket. Awiti won over Okundi by virtue that Rachuonyo region where he comes from is more populous in votes. According to the 2017 IEBC records, Rachuonyo had 190,780 voters, Homa Bay had 186,142 voters while Suba had 103,953 voters.
Politics of galvanising clans is already taking shape in Homa Bay region following the recent endorsement of Kidero, Wanga and Kiasa by a group of elders. A political pundit, Samuel Owida, says that the entry of Kidero into the gubernatorial race is making Wanga and Mbadi to have sleepless nights. Owida says that the two ODM bigwigs must fight hard to ensure they snatch their respective clans from supporting Kidero. Kidero hails from Rangwe constituency as well as Wanga and traces his lineage from Suba region.His grandfather is from Wakeru clan which lives in both Mfangano and Rusinga islands in Suba North constituency.
Some of the clan members moved to around Sindo and Gwassi in Suba South constituency. The Wakeru clan has a chunk of votes in Suba South constituency. The political support base for both Wanga and Kidero is Rangwe. “Wanga is really fighting to make people of Rangwe and Homa Bay region as a whole not to embrace Kidero’s candidature. They both have demonstrated fierce political battle,” Owida says. According to Owida, Mbadi must get back to the drawing board and ensure he consolidates votes in the two Suba constituencies. In 2017, Magwanga who contested the gubernatorial seat on an independent tick got more votes in the area than both Mbadi and Awiti who used the ODM ticket.
“If Magwanga – an outsider – could get more votes than Mbadi in his Suba South then what about Kidero who has family routes there? Mbadi must up his political game,” he says. Mbadi has, however, made inroads in some parts of Kanyamwa in Ndhiwa constituency. The ODM chairman is getting attraction to the people because of the popularity of the party in the county.