Why Sonko-Wanjiru alliance could complicate city governor contest - Beaking Kenya News

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Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Why Sonko-Wanjiru alliance could complicate city governor contest


Former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru is positioning herself as the Tangatanga candidate for Nairobi governor and could be backed by impeached Mike Sonko. 

With the support of Sonko and Deputy President William Ruto, Bishop Wanjiru, who heads the Jesus is Alive Ministries, could complicate the race for the handshake principals. 

Wanjiru has declared interest in the gubernatorial job and announced she will be running on DP William Ruto’s 'hustler nation' platform. Sources intimated to the Star that the IEBC has scheduled the vote for February 18.

Sonko and Wanjiru are veteran Nairobi politicians and are seen as popular, especially in informal settlements. 

On Monday, hardly four days after Sonko's dramatic impeachment in the Senate, the flashy politician embarked on a food distribution drive ahead of Christmas in Starehe constituency.

He announced that his caravan would traverse all the city's  17 constituencies.

Political pundits say that if the handshake side does not plan well, they could be headed for a tough political war.

The team also fears that the political battle will divide Nairobians and muddy the waters for the Building Bridges Initiative  

Wanjiru’s recent vicious attacks on nominated MP Maina Kamanda is a sign of the high stakes in the by-election. 

The cleric said nothing would stop her from bidding for governor and dared Kamanda to bring the fight on.

She cited her victory against Kamanda in the race for Starehe MP, saying she would repeat the same at the county level.

“I beat you (Kamanda) twice and you surrendered…you want us to fight again in Nairobi…with Ruto behind us? If you want a fight, come we fight here,” she said.

She won against the former rival in the 2007 election and retained the seat in a by-election held in 2010 following the annulment of her victory. 

Sonko has already indicated he is ready to back another candidate if he is not cleared to vie.

“I have accepted the impeachment, but the people have not impeached me. Even if I don’t vie, we will know who will be governor of Nairobi,” he said.

Former Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth, ODM secretary-general Edwin Sifuna and former Nairobi City clerk Philip Kisia are among names featuring on the handshake side.

Some quarters are also pushing the team to consider Makadara MP George Aladwa, also ODM chairman Nairobi county, as a possible match against the Sonko side.

There are also mentions of businessman Jimnah Mbaru. Former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo's name has also been mentioned but he has denied having an interest in the seat, adding, however, that some people want him to run.

Aladwa said Wanjiru cannot complicate the matrix for Uhuru and Raila citing her loss to Kidero. He said Nairobi votes along ethnic lines, with Kikuyus, Luhyas, Luos, Kisii and Kambas having the greatest numbers.

Aladwa said the handshake side is strong considering the more than 500,000 BBI signatures collected in the county. 

“The Sonko factor does not scare us. Nairobians need a new governor who can finish the remaining term and support the NMS.”

Kamanda, for his part, said: “We will have a candidate. Nairobi is a handshake city, take that to the bank. There are no two ways about it.”

But political commentator Danstan Omari told the Star that times have changed for both Uhuru and Raila, hence Sonko’s candidate, whoever it will be, will carry the day.

He said the 2017 scenario where the Kikuyu vote was solidly behind Uhuru whereas the Luo and Western were behind Raila is no more.

Omari holds that the Kikuyu vote has migrated tremendously from Uhuru, while the Luhya vote has migrated from Raila's side.

He said voters are likely to back the former Nairobi governor’s choice—by extension Ruto’s—as his donations have come in handy for poor residents hit by Covid-19.

“It is Ruto and Sonko who have been 'feeding' them. The Wheelbarrow Movement resonates in Nairobi more than anywhere. If the two unite, then you have almost 70 per cent of voters behind the candidates they will support,” Omari said.

He added that Sonko is likely to throw his name in the race to get sympathy backing should he not be cleared by the IEBC.

“Sonko’s support base will be sympathetic to whomever he will endorse. The question would be: is Ruto likely to come out in the open if Uhuru nominates somebody?”

Martin Andati, a political observer, said the handshake side already faces the complication of running on a joint ticket.

“There is an unfinished business on their side. The handshake is not a party. If they mix, one person has to resign from either of the parties,” Andati said.

On this, Omari said Wiper may be given preference since ODM has yet to enter into a coalition deal with Jubilee.

Weighing in on the issue, however, Dismas Mokua, a political risk analyst, said President Kenyatta, Raila, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula will determine who becomes the next governor.

He said Wanjiru does not command any serious political capital in Nairobi. “If she did, she would be an MCA, MP, senator, or governor on her own motion.”

“Sonko became governor following his Jubilee ticket. The moment Uhuru, Raila, Musalia and Weta mobilise their bases, it would be a wrap.”

He added that the Tangatanga side has no numbers in Nairobi, hence may not get a smooth sailing as may be perceived by some quarters.

“The Kenyan voter is emotional, irrational and held hostage by their respective tribal leaders,” Mokua said, adding that Nairobi residents may not want another raw deal.

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