Thursday, 28 February 2013

Last-minute intrigue in city governor race

 By NJERI RUGENE nrugene@ke.nationmedia AND EMEKA-MAYAKA GEKARA 

Nairobi governor candidate Jimnah Mbaru of APK in the campaign trail. PHOTO /NATION

 TNA candidate for the Nairobi governor seat Ferdinard Waititu on Wednesday accused unnamed individuals of pushing him to drop out of the race.This followed a dramatic decision by his close allies — outgoing MPs Rachael Shebesh and Mike ‘Sonko’ Mbuvi — to shift their support to his rival, Mr Jimnah Mbaru of the Alliance Party of Kenya.Mr Waititu defeated Mr Mbaru in the TNA primaries before the latter decamped to APK, the party associated with Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi.For the past four months, the three city candidates had been part of a formidable alliance seeking to grab the Nairobi county seats for the Jubilee Coalition.Sonko is vying for the senate seat while Ms Shebesh is seeking to be the women’s representative.But Mr Waititu appeared unperturbed on Wednesday by the desertion, saying he was confident that the people would vote for him.“The votes are with the people. They are not in the pockets of any individual,” he said in response to the move by Sonko and Ms Shebesh.According to the last opinion poll published on Wednesday, Mr Waititu was second to Dr Evans Kidero of ODM in the gubernatorial race.Dr Kidero had 53 per cent support against Mr Waititu’s 32 per cent. Mr Mbaru ranked third with six per cent.Mr Waititu told the Nation that some people, who he did not name, were uncomfortable with his presence in the race for the powerful city seat.The move was a culmination of several meetings by top city business people and professionals who are uncomfortable with Mr Waititu’s candidature. 

Better position
The latest of such meetings was on Tuesday night at a Nairobi hotel and was attended by Ms Shebesh and Sonko.Sources said it was argued that Mr Mbaru was in a better position to beat Dr Kidero compared to Mr Waititu, who is largely seen as “unrefined”.They also argued that the former chairman of the Nairobi Stock Exchange was capable of transforming Nairobi into a regional business hub.Now the challenge will be on whether Mr Mbaru will attract the support of Mr Waititu’s and Sonko’s supporters, mostly in the slums, who accuse him of being elitist and out of touch with them.Sonko has also accused Mr Waititu of campaigning for his main opponent, ODM’s Margaret Wanjiru.TNA said it maintained its support for Mr Waititu, describing as unfortunate the difference among the three candidates.Addressing boda operators at her Nairobi home on Wednesday, Ms Shebesh said Mr Mbaru was “the stronger candidate”.Mr Mbaru pledged to give unemployed youths loans to buy motorcycles to expand the sector and create employment.

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