The battle for the Meru gubernatorial seat in the 2022 elections is shaping up to be a contest between Uhuru Kenyatta’s allies and those of William Ruto. Already, Meru woman representative Kawira Mwangaza, a close ally of the deputy president, sent the incumbent Kiraitu Murungi to the drawing board after declaring in front of the deputy president her intention to vie for the county’s top seat in 2022. The woman representative while speaking at Uganda Martyrs Catholic Church Kibirichia in her Buuri backyard stated that she was preparing to take Kiraitu head-on, adding that should Agriculture cabinet secretary Peter Munya decides to enter the race, she will floor the two down. Mwangaza, who runs a popular charity programme christened Okolea, is a big headache to Kiraitu as they both hail from Imenti constituency while Munya is from Tigania.
Analysts say, if both Mwangaza and Kiraitu find their names on the ballot paper, it will favour CS Munya. Her mettle was tested during the 2017 general election whereas an independent she unseated then incumbent Florence Kajuju of the Jubilee Party. Initially, Mwangaza was with Munya’s Party of National Unity before defecting to Jubilee, where she lost to Kajuju in the primaries, opting to go for the seat as an independent. Munya served as the first Meru governor and has hinted he might enter the race with the only dilemma being that he and Kiraitu are in Uhuru’s camp. There is a likelihood the president will prevail upon the CS not to contest the seat in favour of Kiraitu. Mwangaza is also a preacher and runs a vernacular TV station.
Her war with Kiraitu escalated ahead of the Building Bridges Initiative rally at Kinoru Stadium after the governor warned Ruto’s allies to stay 100 metres away from the meeting. Ruto’s allies later attended the Kinoru meeting but save for Meru senator Mithika Linturi, they were not given a chance to address the gathering. Now Kiraitu, Mwangaza war exploded after the governor deployed county revenue collectors to storm a television station she owned to demand repayment of a debt. A confrontation ensued between Meru county revenue board CEO John Ntoiti and Mwangaza over the Sh509,000 debt. Ntoiti had gone to the building hosting Baite Television Station to demand the management pay up its debt, or face recovery action. The TV station is owned and managed by Mwangaza and her husband Baicu Murega and is situated next to her residence.
Brandishing the notice and the list of payments, Ntoiti demanded the couple pays the money owed as far back as 2016 and produce a licence allowing them to operate. But Mwangaza and Murega denied owing the county government any money with the woman representative demanding the revenue boss produces a court order allowing his team to enter her compound. Prior to that, the war of words pitting Kiraitu against Mwangaza had seen them trade accusations over sabotage of each other’s development projects. At one time, Mwangaza, bishop of the Baite Family Church, led the residents in a sit-in at the county commissioner’s offices, accusing Kiraitu of using a public works officer to sabotage a Sh20 million Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, a project falling under her office.
But county commissioner Allan Machari dismissed the claim, saying the project was at the preparatory stage and no money had been lost. But Mwangaza claimed MCAs allied to the governor had been castigating her Okolea projects and asking her to provide water for residents. It later emerged that Mwangaza had filed a report with the police following a threatening audio recording against her. She furnished the Meru criminal investigations office with the recording where a man claimed to be a sub-county administrator was heard issuing unspecified threats against her. In the 94-second recording between a Meru based reporter and the administrator, the official says they will teach Mwangaza a lesson. The man takes issue with the manner in which Mwangaza’s Baite TV aired demonstration by owners of private cars who were barred from ferrying passengers in Meru town.
For now, reports are doing rounds that the woman representative is a character of loose morals. This follows reports that Baite TV news anchor, Murega Baicu had neglected his family after marrying her employer, Mwangaza. The details were made public by the news anchor’s daughter, Jane Baicu who indicated that she was facing major challenges in her education as her mother is unable to cater for the college fees yet the father is nowhere to be seen. The daughter said they were abandoned in 2015 and currently lives with her mother and two other siblings near Tigania Catholic parish. “I have applied for my college and university and my dream is to pursue a KMTC diploma. I might get admitted but I am not sure that my mother will be able to pay for the course,” the daughter is quoted saying.
Responding to the allegations, the news anchor stated that he would not comment on a matter that was still in court. According to him, his first wife had resorted to taking the issue on child support to court thus should be resolved there. Mwangaza married Baichu, a popular musician and pastor, in 2018 at a colourful wedding in Meru county. In an August 2019 interview, Murega narrated how his guitar skills attracted the woman representative to him and culminated in marriage. Together, they run Kamankura records which turned to Baite Family, encompassing Baite TV and Baite Records. The two also run the Baite Family Church where they both minister, attracting congregants through the music-filled broadcasted church services. For Kiraitu, he is also caught up in a vicious battle with Munya over the control of Mt Kenya East politics.
Kiraitu, who was initially seen to be Ruto’s ally, has of late gone silent on national politics. The region has 10 members at the national assembly where Tigania East MP Josphat Kabeabea, Rindikiri Muruithania (Buuri), Halima Mcheke (nominated) and Kawira as well as Linturi, have been vocal in favour of the DP while the rest, save for newly-appointed deputy majority whip, Maoka Maore, (Igembe North) who is an ardent Kieleweke member, have avoided the Uhuru-Ruto battles. Former education assistant minister Kilemi Mwiria is also salivating at the prospects of occupying the seat but pundits say his chances are minimal. Another key player in region politics is Eala nominated MP Mpuri Apuri, who has formed a new party PEU. He is currently now working with Munya after deserting senator Kiraitu
Joho works on Coast 2022 lineup – Weekly Citizen
Mombasa governor Hassan Joho has renewed his war against Coast elected leaders who are perceived to be supportive of William Ruto’s 2022 Presidential bid. Currently, Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya is under siege from hostile MCAs suspected to be under instructions of Joho through county speaker Sammy Ruwa.
Ruwa has been a longtime Joho sidekick and has also acted as his legal adviser in the past. He has been fronted for governor seat twice but rejected. He is speaker for a second term. Towards the end of Mvurya’s first term, he has been a Ruto man. He has no time for Joho, insisting Kwale is not an extension of Mombasa county. In the last general elections, Joho had vowed to ensure Mvurya was defeated at the ballot. But this was never to be after the Mombasa governor fell out with Chirau Mwakwere who was a sure bet against Mvurya on the then popular ODM ticket.
After Mwakwere bolted out of ODM to Wiper, Joho turned to little known Issa Chipera as party candidate. Chipera literally became minced meat for Mvurya who easily beat him and made a comeback on a Jubilee ticket. Mvurya is grooming his deputy Fatuma Achani to succeed him in the next general election but observers say this is a tall order. Joho on the other hand is reportedly pushing Crop Development PS Hamad Boga for the Kwale seat against Mvurya’s candidate and Mwakwere. Another Ruto man on Joho’s radar is Kaloleni MP Paul Katana. Recently, the legislator was discharged as a member of the parliamentary investment committee in actions said to have the Mombasa governor’s hand.
Ironically, Katana was Joho’s PA when he served as Kisauni MP. But it appears other than fighting Katana for aligning himself with Ruto, he never wanted him to be MP in the first place. In the 2013 general election when Katana first contested and lost to little known Gunga Mwinga, there were allegations that ODM insiders had rigged him out. Currently, Joho is said to be financing the political activities of Mwinga to undermine Katana in the constituency. Katana has said severally that his cooperation with Ruto is because of the handshake between Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta. “I’m a loyal member of ODM with full respect to my party leader. I also support the handshake and that is why I have been working with DP Ruto to further development in my constituency,” the legislator was quoted as saying.
He has also said his cooperation with Ruto is not for selfish reasons but for the benefit of his constituents. He says the DP has presided over high profile funds drives towards public projects in his constituency. The MP says some of the people fighting him have never assisted Kaloleni to move forward but wants leaders who can bootlick them.“I’m independent-minded and I work for the interest of my people who elected me and have no time for sycophancy,” Katana says. Mohammed Ali of Nyali constituency and a close ally of the DP is another one whom Joho is scheming against. He is pushing his cousin Said Abdalla aka Saido against the Jicho Pevu.
Jicho Pevu’s recent rising political profile after he filed a motion to impeach transport CS James Macharia over chaos at Mombasa port has alarmed the Joho camp. In spite of the rejection of the motion by Speaker Justin Muturi, Ali has become a hero in Mombasa. Last week, pro-Joho Mombasa MPs led by Mvita’s Abdulswamad Nassir were doing damage control. They toured the port and pleaded with the KPA management to put out a notice affirming that usage of SGR for containers upcountry was optional. This was meant to cool the heat against them after residents began collecting signatures to recall them for failing to support Jicho Pevu motion. Another Joho political foe Aisha Jumwa of Malindi constituency is politically wounded and the Mombasa governor no longer cares what she does or says. The Malindi MP’s self-inflicted woes have dimmed her 2022 Kilifi governor bid.
Fresh political formation in Siaya ahead of 2022 – Weekly Citizen
There are plans afoot to drop Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi from a leading role in Senator James Orengo gubernatorial campaign team. Observers point that the surprising decision was reached after it became clear that the controversial legislator was no longer appealing to the majority of voters.
There were earlier reports of an inside analysis conducted within Siaya senator campaign inner circle that hinted the disadvantages of trusting the MP with a major role yet he was also facing stiff opposition from notable politicians in the region. The development debate comes hot on the heels of a video that went viral showing the evidently intoxicated legislator dancing suggestively during a house party attended by women, as his Gem counterpart Elisha Odhiambo cheered. Weekly Citizen has established that political formations are already regrouping in Siaya ahead of 2022 general election and a section of political leaders including top ODM party officials from Alego Usonga are not happy with Atandi’s quick move to front Senator Orengo for the county’s governorship.
Area governor Cornell Rasanga has confronted the lawmaker on a number of occasions describing his early campaigns in support of Orengo as a lack of respect for his office. The protest by the governor sparked off an anti-Atandi wave as he was immediately joined by a host of formidable politicians from Alego Usonga in castigating the MP accused of overstepping his political mandate. The local ODM party leadership led by Alego Usonga branch chairman John Orwenjo, and secretary Paul Jura reaffirmed that the party had crowned Rasanga as their bona fide patron and it was, therefore, his duty to offer political direction on matters regarding his successor. The Orengo-led group which also brings together Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo and his Rarieda counterpart Otiende Amollo has been roundly accused of leading early full-scale political activities at the expense of development.
MCAs chairman Sylvester Madialo warned Atandi to stop creating confusion among voters, adding he should hold his horse and wait for the party whistle to be blown or prepare to equally lose his seat at the ballot. The leaders including Township MCA Obiero Otare, Vincent Odawa (North Alego), Judy Okumu (West Alego), Joseph Mboha (South East Alego), and Winnie Otieno (nominated) have loudly questioned how Atandi would deliver for Orengo when he is standing on a politically shaky ground. It is claimed that the Siaya senator blocked Atandi from using his chopper to escape from a crowd that turned rowdy during a food distribution to flood victims in his constituency. It is reported that trouble started after the MP barred Usonga ward MCA Madialo from addressing his voters after the food distribution. People with disabilities who had attended the event reportedly bayed for his blood after he gave them a paltry sh100 prompting Orengo to deny the lawmaker a chopper ride in fear that associating with him would jeopardize his 2022 governorship bid.
Rogue Kisumu NGO’s money minting gimmicks – Weekly Citizen
Various stakeholders and residents of Kisumu county have called upon Nyanza regional police commander Noah Mwivanda and his DCI counterpart Daniel Kipsoi, to investigate the activities of the chairman of an NGO called Magnum Environment Network Michael Nyaguti. The NGO, it is claimed, is a briefcase one with no donor funding surviving fully on extortion and threats. By last week, a victim was planning to institute private criminal charges against the NGO.
They are accusing Nyaguti of extortion and blackmail of people under the guise of encroaching on water catchment areas and flouting environmental laws failure of which he always resorts to going to courts as an interested party of the said social vice. One of the victims narrated that sometimes back, he was developing rental houses near Lake Victoria and had been given all the required documents from the county, Nema, and all relevant authorities to commence his work only for Nyaguti to appear menacing at the site with a group of people he called officials of Magnum Environment Network accompanied by some people who looked like police officers who demanded that I show them documents in regard to what I was doing. Most developers ranging from real estate to hospitable industries are saying that they are really undergoing rough times in the hands of the said Nyaguti who on most occasions is accompanied by some rogue police officers who intimidate and threaten their respective targets with arrests. The said Nyaguti had sometimes back attempted to extort Sh5 million each from former governors Evans Kidero and Jack Ranguma, together with a senior leading civil servant under the guise that they had bought land which should have been part of Lake Victoria.
When the trio was adamant that they would not give him any money, he sued them saying they had encroached on wetlands. The same Nyaguti also sued the Kisumu county government and Nyanza Golf Club which he accused of reclaiming the wetland at the mouth of River Kisat without convening a public participatory forum, as part extortion antics but his bid has fallen on deaf ears. He had also sued Kenya Ports Authority, Kisumu after the parastatal had ordered beach management units out of its land after collecting thousands of shillings from the said victims. Recently together with other activists, they stormed Western offices of Kenya Wildlife Service demanding that they investigate a ring of cartels believed to be working in cahoots with officers to defraud victims of wildlife attacks of their compensation. After his request was rejected, he called a meeting in Kisumu with some of the victims who had not been paid and tried to convince them to give him the power of attorney so that he could press them for their payment. Efforts to get Nyaguti’s comments were fruitless while a senior KWS officer said that they have a clear policy on how KWS compensates. “KWS has no agreement with anyone to peruse payments,” he said.