Two Ukambani governors have announced that they will be on the presidential ballot in the 2020 General Election, a move likely to lead to intense campaigns to win the hearts and minds of voters who hardly split their votes.
Credited with transforming their counties through visionary leadership over their two terms in office, Makueni and Machakos governors, Prof Kivutha Kibwana and Dr. Alfred Mutua are now gunning for the top leadership in the country.
The two couldn’t be any more different in personality and the manner in which they have steered their counties from the brink of poverty to an era of hope and foundation for prosperity.
On the one hand, Prof Kibwana comes across as a humble, quiet yet focused leader whose development initiatives have drawn praise across the country despite a violent run-in with MCAs in his first term.
The governor even dodged a bullet as MCAs, many of them belonging to Wiper Party, opposed his development initiatives, leading to his call for the dissolution of the county government.
However, having toughed it out with the hostile ward representatives, Makueni booted out all of the MCAs in the 2017 election save for one, giving Prof Kivutha the peace he needed to implement his development agenda.
Over the next few years, the governor surprised many with his steady leadership and rolling out of programs, including free healthcare, mango-processing factories, and new hospitals.
On the other hand, Dr. Mutua’s courting of the media and his highly publicized development project launches earned him equal acclaim and criticism.
However, the governor attributed much of the criticism to his political foes, including former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama with whom they never saw eye to eye.
To his credit, the governor paved many rural roads opening up remote areas for development and increasing the value of land in every area a road was tarmacked.
Besides, paving roads, the governor dug boreholes to provide Machakos residents with water for household consumption and irrigation.
Both governors have had a difficult and rather complex relationship with Wiper Democratic Movement leader, Kalonzo Musyoka, who has widely and for a long time been the Ukambani political supremo.
On Friday, June 26, the Makueni governor took to his Twitter account to announced that he will run for the presidency, complicating a bit the ambitions of his neighbour, Dr. Mutua.
“I am overwhelmed by your reception of my Presidency announcent. We are in this together to the end. We shall shape everything together. For a change, there is going to be public participation in establishing our future leadership,” said the Makueni leader, who before his election as governor served as a special advisor to former President Mwai Kibaki.
The governor promised to put the interest of Kenyans at the heart of campaign and presidency should he win the much coveted seat.
“I have followed the conversation carefully and I am grateful for the comments. I am encouraged. My candidature will crowdsource ideas on the Kenya we deserve. We shall be on this together until August 2022 and beyond God willing. That is my prayer,” said Governor Kibwana.
Last week, Dr. Mutua, who heads the Maendeleo Chap Chap party, unleashed video clips on social media in several vernacular languages asking Kenyans to shun ethnic-based politics.
The governor was responding following the signing of post-election cooperation between his old rival Musyoka’s Wiper Party and the ruling Jubilee Coalition.
Mutua’s ambition to be the President of Kenya is not a recent development but a long desire that he has nurtured with whose end he seems to have inculcated in his decision both as the Government Spokesperson in the grand coalition government and as Machakos governor.
With Kibwana and Mutua’s presidential ambitions, Ukambani is set to produce three contestants for the top seat, a race likely to fragment the blocs votes.
Speaking after his party signed the post-election pact with Jubilee, the former Vice President Musyoka said that he will still run for the top office in 2022.