With less than 48 hours to the Kibra parliamentary by-election, focus has now shifted from the campaigns, with leading political parties now focusing on vote protection strategies.
The race, which is seen as a do-or-die between Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto, is hotly contested, based on the spirited campaigns that have been staged by their parties.
Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula have also promised a bruising battle in bid to win the seat.
The four parties are leading the pack in the battle for the 118,658 votes.
ODM has fielded the late MP Ken Okoth’s brother Bernard Imran Okoth while Jubilee is fronting football star McDonald Mariga.ANC has thrown its weight behind ODM leader Raila Odinga’s former aide Eliud Owalo while Ford Kenya backs Khamisi Butichi.
The constituency has five wards including Sarang’ombe, which has the majority of registered voters at 30,754, Woodley/Kenyatta Golf Course (28,066), Makina (25,695), Laini Saba (17,455) while Lindi has 16,688.
But while there are 24 candidates, including six independents seeking to grab the seat, the race is shaping up into a do-or-die affair between Mr Odinga and DP Ruto who is also the Jubilee deputy party leader.2022 REHEARSAL
The two political heavyweights have traversed the constituency chasing votes in what is shaping up to be a rehearsal for the 2022 presidential race.
Political analyst Herman Manyora says the race is a major battle for the two leaders describing it as “too close to call”.
“Anyone can win. I cannot place a bet on this race,” Prof Manyora told Nation.
“The moment Ruto entered this race in Kibra, it became obvious that it was going to attract a lot of attention. It was always believed that the main reason why Ruto was entering the race, if you want to be crude, you could say was to embarrass Raila.”
He argues that the DP wants to show that “Raila is not as powerful as he is believed to be. That is why they keep saying they have raided his political bedroom”.
“So really, for Raila it is a do-or-die because in the event he is defeated, that will send a very bad signal that the Raila we know is not as strong as he has always presented himself. So to Raila, it is very critical that he wins this seat,” added Prof Manyora.
The Nation has learnt that ODM will deploy MPs and MCAs across the constituency to monitor the poll.
ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna said that they are determined to bag the seat “as it belongs to us”.
He said they have laid down strategies to protect their votes and ensure they secure a landslide victory.
According to Prof Manyora, the Orange brigade is not leaving anything to chance “going by the way he (Raila) has summoned all his troops and sought assistance from the likes of Charity Ngilu, Kivuthat Kibwana, Alfred Mutua, Anne Waiguru and a lot of other people.”
For Dr Ruto, Prof Manyora argues, he wants to prove a point in the Kibra contest.
“He wants to prove that he is a politician beyond the Rift Valley. That he can campaign anywhere in this country,” he said.
“The better way to prove this is to go right to Baba’s bedroom as they are saying and to cause havoc. So it is really a matter of life and death to these two gentlemen.”
Mr Mariga and the Jubilee team have also stated that they will leave nothing to chance as they seek to prove Mr Odinga wrong.
Lang’ata MP Nixon Korir has been tasked with the mobilisation of agents who will man Mr Mariga’s votes on Thursday.
“The agents will be paid handsomely and will remain vigilant to ensure Mariga’s rightful votes get into his basket,” a source privy to the Jubilee campaigns told the Nation.
But President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the Jubilee Party leader, has not been in Kibra to campaign for Mr Mariga.