A supremacy battle between Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi “Sonko” and Starehe MP Maina Kamanda may have handed the Mathare seat to the Orange Democratic Movement, local leaders say.
Two TNA members of the county assembly (MCA) close to the senator told the Sunday Nation the flamboyant politician was unhappy with the decision to settle on Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, and not him, to lead the Jubilee brigade in vote-hunting for George Wanjohi in Mathare.
Perhaps this could explain why the controversial senator gave the campaign a wide berth.
“You remember he only set foot there when President Uhuru Kenyatta visited to drum up support for our candidate; the senator was irked when he was by-passed as the main man in the campaigns,” one of the MCAs said. Their claim was also supported by one of the senator’s aides who requested not to be named for fear of reprisals.
“From the outcome of the poll, they should learn that you can only sideline Sonko in city politics at your own peril. We are convinced they will not do this in future,” the aide said.
Downplaying the supremacy contest, Mr Kamanda said the part did its best to retain the seat.
“There was nothing like internal wrangles within the Jubilee family. The fact is that this was a Cord constituency from the word go, we were only trying to snatch it from them which we almost did.
“If you can recall, Cord leader Raila Odinga beat President Kenyatta here by about 7,000 votes in the last presidential poll. This tells a lot. But we are glad we narrowed it down to only 800 votes this time round,” Mr Kamanda said.
Out of the six wards that make up Mathare Constituency, only Mlango Kubwa, represented by Mr Andrew Macharia in the county assembly, and Kiamaiko, whose MCA is Mr James Kinuthia, are in the grip of TNA. The rest, Mabatini, Ngei, Hospital and Huruma are held by Cord.
Another factor that could have cost TNA the seat, some party insiders said, was the indecision of the leadership to either conduct primaries or issue a direct ticket.
At one point, TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja invited aspirants to submit their papers for consideration only for the party to later make an about-turn and settle on Mr George Wanjohi, whose election had been annulled by the Court of Appeal.
Among those who submitted their papers at the request of Mr Sakaja included Mr Muthuma Warigi, National Youth Council Secretary- General Arnold Maliba, Mr Jackson Mwangi and former Huruma councillor Samuel Ndung’u wa Grace.
The by-election was important for TNA as President Uhuru Kenyatta came out for the first time since his election to campaign for his party’s candidate. There have been five by-elections so far.
The President led top Jubilee politicians in the vote hunt a few days before he flew to the US to attend the US-Africa Summit hosted by President Barack Obama.
Mr Sakaja told the Sunday Nation that for as much as an ODM candidate carried the day, Jubilee were “the real winners”.
“The most important thing to do now as TNA chairman is to take responsibility for the loss because we could have done better. However, remember Cord affiliated parties had over 75 per cent of the votes in Mathare in the 2013 elections,but you can see Kariuki escaped narrowly,” he said.
He said the loss would not adversely affect the Jubilee coalition in the National Assembly. “Cord has lost thrice before. Has that had any effect on their agenda in the House? This is inconsequential” Mr Sakaja said.