By Wilson Abiri and Collins Matubwi
With only two years remaining to the 2022 General Elections, battle lines have already been drawn in the race to clinch the much coveted seat of the Kakamega Women Representative Seat.
Already women leaders in the county who are interested in the seat have started making inroads to solidify their support base ahead of 2022 using different campaign strategies.
And if elections was to be held today, the current Kakamega Women Representative Elsie Muhanda will still be re-elected owing to the support she enjoys across the county.
In an opinion poll that was commissioned by the County Splash, an online news platform that was conducted between March 13th – April 7th 2020 placed Ms. Muhanda at position one with 21.71 per cent (812 votes) of the total sampled population.
A total of 3,742 respondents were reached through telephone interviews, online survey, impromptu interviews and through filling questionnaires. Muhanda was closely followed by her political nemesis Peninah Mukabane who garnered 805 votes representing 21.53 per cent of the total votes tally.
The margin between Muhanda and Ms. Mukabane, the current Gender advisor in Governor Wycliffe Oparanya’s office was 0.18 per cent.
Renowned broadcaster Lydia Pamela Inyangala alias Senje got 676 votes (18.07 per cent) to clinch the third position followed at a distant fourth position with nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga who garnered 327 votes (8.73 per cent).
Sarah Netiah, a nominated MCA at the County Assembly of Kakamega scooped the fifth position with 238 votes (6.35 per cent) followed by Hadija Juma Nganyi at the sixth position with 167 votes (4.46 per cent) and Former Nominated Senator Daisy Kanaiza Nyongesa was at the seventh position with 73 votes (1.94 per cent).
Nancy Mudeheli got 57 votes (1.53 votes) at position eight followed by Anne Nambiro, a Nominated MCA at the County Assembly of Kakamega at position nine with 48 votes (1.28 per cent) whereas Roselidah Andambi, also a nominated MCA was ranked at the tenth position with 34 votes (0.90 per cent). Utmost 13.50 per cent (505 votes) of the sampled population were undecided.
Muhanda, the incumbent Woman legislator as a wide network across the county courtesy of her programs like the ‘Tumaini Scholars’ where she has taken back to school over 500 young mothers back to school using the Affirmative Action Funds. Muhanda been distributing tents, umbrellas, farm inputs as well as facemasks to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. This activities have seen her traverse the entire county thus becoming a darling to many.
She is well endowed with resources as well as having political goodwill from political luminaries like ODM leader Raila Odinga and Mr. Oparanya.
However, it may not be a walk in the park as she will have to battle it out with Senator Shiyonga for the ODM nomination slot in 2022.
For Mukabane, she has good managerial skills having held plum positions like the County Executive Committee (CECM) for Environment as well as Agriculture in the first tenure of Governor Oparanya.
It was also during her time as the CECM for Health that the construction of the 750- bed capacity Kakamega County Teaching and Referral hospital came to fruition. She is also blessed with oratory skills.
Given her current role as the Gender Advisor in Governor Oparanya’s office, she has made a name for herself by fighting against teenage pregnancy and defilement in the county. Her name is present in at least nine sub counties as per the opinion polls as well as being endowed with resources.
For the veteran Journalist, Lydia Inyangala, she has come second in two consecutive General Elections of 2013 and 2017. This gives her an upper hand ahead of the rest.
However, her greatest undoing is that after every elections, she disappears from the ground.
Naomi Shiyonga who has been among the top financiers of ODM activities in the country enjoys the support of the party. This complicates the ODM nominations in the 2022 elections as the party may reward her with the ticket due to her loyalty to the party.
Ms. Shiyonga is also endowed with resources and enjoys comparative advantage ahead of the rest as she comes from the rich Malava voting bloc.
However, the sampled population claimed that she has lost touch with the ground since she is not generous.
Hadija Nganyi enjoys the support of the Wanga rich voting bloc though her dalliance with the Deputy President William Ruto is working against her candidature unless she will use another party apart from Jubilee. She is also financially unstable.
Sarah Netiah after being nominated as an MCA lost touch with the ground given that she has not carried any activity in the county. She is also not endowed with resources and running a spirited campaign may prove an uphill task for her.
For Daisy Nyongesa, she still has her networks across the county having been the ODM youth leader prior to the 2013 elections as well as a name she earned for herself after serving as a nominated senator for five years. However, she has never vied for an elective seat and after the 2017 elections, she went underground.
Nancy Mudeheli enjoys the Lugari and Likuyani voting bloc whereas Ms. Nambiro and Ms. Andambi are non – starters since they have never been serious with their campaigns.