Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga consoled himself that the winning candidate, Feisal Abdalla Bader, is a former member of Orange party.
In a candid interview yesterday with KTN’S Ken Mijungu, Raila described his loss as “the nature of elections” where “you win some and lose some.”
He nevertheless complained of blatant voter bribery by some MPs, describing it as unethical and discouraging.
“The winner was actually an ODM member. There are a number of people who voted for him, who are ODM members because of the work he did when he was the assistant to the late Dori,” he said.
The seat fell vacant following the death of MP Suleiman Dori.
Raila said people are free to interpret the win in Msambweni whichever way they want but as far as he is concerned, it was not a nationwide popularity contest for ODM.
He said that his previous statement on the importance of Msambweni to Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) was misunderstood. He said he meant to say BBI may have an uphill task in Msambweni if the Handshake candidate failed.
“I was not talking about the BBI nationally. I just said BBI would have a problem in Msambweni,” he said.
All in all, Raila (pictured) said he had come to terms with the events in Msambweni.
On Tuesday night, Feisal garnered 15,251 votes, trouncing his closest rival Omar Boga of ODM who got 10,444 votes.
In Wundanyi-Mbale Ward seat in Taita Taveta County, Wiper Party candidate Stephen Mwalugha Mcharo beat 13 other candidates, including ODM’s Jimmy Mwamidi.
Mcharo got 1,190 votes while Mwamidi received 589 votes.
The seat fell vacant following the death of Social Democratic Party representative Beatrice Mwabili in March this year.
The only consolation for ODM was in Dabaso Ward in Kilifi North where its candidate, Dickson Karani, beat Emanuel Changawa of Movement for Growth and Development.
As Raila faced the loses, debate raged in the country over the significance of the three mini polls, especially, the Msambweni by-election, that ODM had billed as a testing ground for BBI.
Deputy President William Ruto hailed Bader’s win saying “your win cements our trust in God and the people.”
Ruto had endorsed Bader on September 24, a day after Jubilee pulled out of the race.
“Democracy and people power have triumphed,” said Ruto, who had been monitoring the by-election from his ranch in Taita Taveta where he has been since Monday.
Yesterday, Coast ODM leaders did not answer our calls.
In Kwale, Ukunda town woke up to roadshows as Bader celebrated his win.
Locals noted that positioning Boga as a Handshake candidate and lack of a formidable local team to counter the wave started by Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, his deputy Fatuma Achani who comes from Msambweni sub-County, dealt a blow to ODM.
Others blamed bungled nominations exercise, lack of strategy, combative politics and failure to be in touch with local issues for the ODM defeats.
According to data from Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), voter turnout in Ukunda and Bongwe-Ngombato wards where Boga was expected to do well was less than 30 per cent. Boga represented Bongwe-Ngombato ward for 10 years.
Meanwhile, in Ramisi and Kinondo wards, Bader’s strongholds, voter turn out was above 40 per cent.
Yesterday, residents claimed the altercation between governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Mvurya (Kwale) could have given Bader an advantage.
“Joho’s sustained attacks on governor Mvurya rubbed some of us the wrong way. We felt Joho and his candidate did not treat Mvurya with respect and this made some of us sympathise with him and Feisal,” said Mary Wambui, a voter.
He was referring to the claims by Mvurya during the campaigns that Joho was treating Kwale as a sub-county of Mombasa.
Mvurya led a local team to campaign for Bader, who was Dori’s nephew and personal assistant.
The Kwale team included MPs Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Benjamin Tayari (Kinango) and Kassim Tandaza (Matuga) who waged a spirited campaign, sometimes splitting into several teams, in the hunt for votes.
MPs from outside Kwale County included Mohamed Ali (Nyali), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Caleb Kositany (Soy), Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Didmus Baraza (Kimilili) and Nimrod Mbai (Kitui East).
The team was backed by Ruto allies who included former senators Johnostone Muthama (Machakos), Hassan Omar (Mombasa) and Boni Khalwale (Kakamega). They camped in Msambweni during the two-month campaign period to support Bader.
Joho was backed by Kwale Senator Issa Boy, Kwale Woman Representative Zuleikha Hassan and some MCAs. He sparked a war of words with Mvurya when he claimed that Boga was a government candidate.
Raila was in in Kwale for only a day last week. ODM was confident of recapturing the seat it held since 2007.
In his acceptance speech at Dr Babla Diani Secondary School after being declared winner by returning officer Yusuf Abubakar yesterday, Bader said he would focus on provision of Universal Health Care (UHC) in his first 100 days as MP.
He said he would also prioritise funding education and complete the late Dori’s projects.
He attributed his win to Ruto, Mvurya and Muthama and pledged to work with them.
“The DP has supported me in time of need and I will stand with him in 2022,” Bader said.
Kositany, the Jubilee deputy secretary general said his party leaders unilaterally decided not to field a candidate in Msambweni but they resolved to give the people a chance to choose through Bader.
Mwashetani said that were it not for vigilance, the ballot boxes could have been stuffed with fake ballots during the Tuesday poll. He claimed the police were not neutral.
“Our message is that despite a lot of hurdles, God essentially supplies a leader,” he said.
Kwale County ODM chair and former Matuga MP, who represented his party at the tallying centre, said the results of the mini poll came as a shocker to them.
In the election, Wiper candidate Sheikh Mahmoud came a distant third with 790, former Msambweni MP Marere Wa Mwachai had 300 votes, United Green Movement’s Khamis Mwakaonje got 230 votes, independent Charles Bilali garnered 135 votes, Party of Economic Democracy’s Ali Mwakulonda received 107 votes and independent candidate Mansury Kumaka ended up with 32 votes.
Sharlet Akinyi who quit the race and joined the Boga campaign, got 18 votes.
Political analyst Hassan Mwakimako noted that while the Bader campaign penetrated the grassroots and enjoyed strong local backing, the ODM team appeared disorganised and relied on the Mombasa team led by Joho.
Boga’s campaigns slowed down for two weeks after he contracted Covid-19 that saw him admitted to a Mombasa hospital.