The last-minute decision by Maendeleo Chap Chap party to withdraw its candidate, former Cabinet Minister Mutua Katuku from the Machakos Senatorial race, is viewed as a game-changer in Ukambani political landscape.
Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka now appears to have pulled a fast one on Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party in the Machakos senatorial poll slated for Thursday.
The action by Katuku to quit the race now leaves Kalonzo and his political nemesis former Machakos Senator and UDA Chairman Johnstone Muthama to fight for the control of the region.
A bruising political battle was expected among key candidates gunning for the Machakos senatorial seat in Thursday’s mini poll billed as a supremacy battle between top political leaders.
Machakos electorate had expressed anxiety as they prepared to go to the polls to pick their next senator amid heightened political rivalry and competition.
Mutua said his party’s withdrawal from the race was an extension of goodwill to the President, Opposition Chief Raila Odinga, BBI partners was meant to counter the agenda of detractors citing Muthama’s United Democratic Alliance party (UDA) party which is allied to the Deputy President.
And with Katuku out of the race, Urbanus Ngengele of (UDA) will now face off with Muthama’s ex-wife and Wiper candidate Agnes Kavindu in an election where political stakes for both Kalonzo and Muthama will remain at a premium.
Unlike the previous elections where Kalonzo was the undisputed Ukambani Kingpin, his stewardship has been under threat from the Machakos County chief Mutua and Muthama.
If Katuku had not stepped down, the Thursday poll would have been a litmus test for the bigwigs and the race would have had a major bearing on the country’s political landscape.
For Kalonzo, a win will bolster the Amani National Congress (ANC), Wiper, Ford Kenya and Kanu political alliance that is in the works just like the just concluded Matungu and Kabuchai by-elections.
Musalia Mudavadi, Gideon Moi and Moses Wetangula have been traversing the county that boasts of 623,536 registered voters campaigning for Kavindu up until Friday when political gatherings were banned over the prevailing COVID-19 situation.
Muthama is under pressure to deliver the Ukambani region to Ruto if only their UDA candidate Ngengele win’s Thursday’s mini poll.
Governor Mutua withdrew his candidate in what he described as a move to end the culture of divisive and winner takes it all politics.
“Finally, to our supporters, we know you have been ready to unanimously vote for our candidate and we thank you. This is a strategic decision and tactical decision made in the best interest of our members, supporters and our future plans” Mutua said in a statement.
The seat which fell vacant following the death of Boniface Kabaka has attracted 10 candidates who include Agnes Kavindu(Wiper), Stanley Muindi (Party of Economic Democracy), Urbanus Ngengele (UDA), Simeon Kitheka (Grand Dream Development Party), John Musingi (Muungano) and Musembi Nthenge of Ford Asili.
Others are Jonathan Maweu, Francis Munyambu and Sebastian Nthama all wishing to succeed Kabaka as Independent candidates.