As the December 15 by-election for the Msambweni parliamentary seat fast approaches, candidates are getting busy with their campaigns to woo voters.
Msambweni, established for the 1988 general elections, is one of the four constituencies in Kwale county, others being Lunga-Lunga, Matuga and Kinango.
It has 69,377 registered voters spread in the four wards of Ramisi, Kinondo, Bongwe-Gombato and Ukunda.
Several candidates are vying for the seat in the mini poll to replace the late area ODM MP Suleiman Dori who died in March.
Omar Boga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party and Feisal Bader an independent candidate are increasingly seen as the favorites to win the seat.
Boga is a former civic leader and brother to Agriculture Principal Secretary Professor Hamadi Boga while Bader is cousin and former personal assistant to the late MP.
Although the candidates are traversing the vast constituency in Kwale County, an active and visible campaign has not been possible due to restrictions occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
They have resorted to using social media platforms, campaign billboards dotting the roads and other techniques to woo voters in the place of the time tested traditional political rallies and road shows. Campaign billboards are helpful since they increase the candidates’ visibility and put a face to the campaign.
The campaigns for the ODM nominee is spearheaded by Mombasa Governor and ODM deputy party leader Hassan Joho, ODM nominated Senator Dr. Agnes Zani, Kwale senator Issa Boy, Women Rep Zuleikha Hassan and former Matuga MP and Kwale county ODM chairman Hassan Mwanyoha.
Campaigns for Bader are led by Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani and his Kinango counterpart Benjamin Tayari. Others who have lent support to the independent candidate are Kwale County Governor Salim Mvurya and his Deputy Fatuma Achani.
On Sunday Mwashetani urged the electorate to vote for Bader to guarantee continuity of Msambweni development plans and in honour of the late legislator.
“In honour of my friend the late Dori, I stand with the people of Msambweni for the sake of continuity,” said Mwashetani.
He said it is evident that the well managed bursary funds and the noble development initiates championed by the late MP need a focused leader who knows the workings of the system so that such programs can continue immediately after the by-election.
“I therefore urge the people of Msambweni to vote for Bader for the remaining 16 months before the next general election in 2022 so that he completes development programs initiated during the tenure of Dori,” he said.
Governor Joho who traversed the constituency for three days in a row said the ODM party flag bearer as a former civic leader has the political experience needed for the seat.
“The people of Msambweni can evaluate the performance of Boga as a civic leader and understands how the system works,” he said adding that the voters should not gamble by sending a greenhorn to parliament.
Joho accused Bader of switching sides after sensing that he will not clinch the ODM ticket during the party primaries and promised him a bruising political duel as campaigning is gaining momentum by the day.
Dr. Agnes Zani a former ODM secretary general said her party is running open and honest campaigns and expressed confidence that ODM will retain the seat. Dr. Zani a native of Kwale said ODM is contesting to win the seat as the party has taken the mini poll seriously.
The former Matuga MP Mwanyoha has dismissed Bader as a candidate who is relying on family ties to secure votes.
“The Msambweni seat is not like inheriting a traditional medicine man’s position where family ties and personal connections are paramount,” he said.
On his part Governor Mvurya has taken an apparent jibe at his Mombasa counterpart accusing him of interfering with the politics of Msambweni Sub County.
He said people who engage in ‘political tourism’ and take the people of Msambweni for granted are not welcome in Kwale.
“Kwale is not a sub county of another devolved unit and we want to warn those campaigning here that we won’t entertain politics of division and hatred,” he said saying the people of Msambweni wants issue based campaigns.
By Hussein Abdullahi