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Jubilee, Cord to test supremacy in Mathare by-elections

The cancellation of the election of Mr George Wanjohi as Mathare MP and the resulting mini-election open the next front in the city between President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party, TNA, and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM.

Mr Steve Kariuki, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru’s son, this week succeeded in his petition against Mr Wanjohi, which saw the latter’s victory nullified.

Mr Kariuki had been declared winner at the tallying centre with over 34,000 votes, only for his certificate to be withdrawn in favour of Mr Wanjohi.

Two days later, the IEBC said it had detected an anomaly and declared Mr Wanjohi the winner.

The by-election reopens a battleground in the largely volatile constituency where a preliminary analysis of statistics and trends gives ODM an advantage over TNA. 

Mathare has six wards, four of which are represented by ODM Members of the County Assembly. They are Huruma, Ngei, Hospital and Mabatini. TNA holds Mlango Kubwa and Kiamaiko. 

However, some ODM-held wards have fewer voters than those held by TNA. For example, Hospital Ward, dominated by ODM, has 7,498 registered voters while Mlango Kubwa, a TNA zone, has 18,676.  

There is something else for TNA to grapple with. In the last elections, Mr Odinga bagged more votes compared to President Kenyatta in the battle for Mathare’s 90,363 voters.

Mr Kenyatta garnered 30,013 votes against Mr Odinga’s 37,688 votes.

Fortunes and perception of both coalitions may have tilted with the installation of the Jubilee government but the strength of the individual candidates may be crucial in determining the swing vote. 

Mr Wanjohi, a two-time councillor for Kiamaiko Ward, says the three wards of Kiamaiko, Mlango Kubwa and Huruma “belong to him”.

“There are a lot of ethnic divisions here, but the by-election will determine who the real winner is. We won fair and square, and will still do,” says Mr Wanjohi. 

 “For the first time, Mathare had a true son of their own representing them. Outsiders are trying to reverse this. They can never really understand our problems,” Mr Wanjohi said. 

“We are already tarmacking Bondeni, Biashara and Oilibya Roads, which will open Mathare to Juja Road.

“I have also built a dining Hall at Ndururuno Secondary School, and are putting up two classrooms at St Teresa Girls’,” he says.

But Mr Kariuki, 34, rates the performance of the MP as being below average.

“He has even taken our CDF office to another constituency Ruaraka,” says Kariuki.

“My priority is to have two fire engines, one at Pangani and the other at Kariobangi Roundabout. It is my objective to deal with problems of fire in the area.”