On your marks..get set..The Taitanic battle for Taita-Taveta governorship has begun, so voters get ready...
With less than two months to the general elections,the campaigns for the Taita-Taveta governorship are gathering steam with at least 8 candidates bracing themselves for a bruising battle for the influential and enviable position.
The three top contenders for the gubernatorial seat Jubilee’s Dan Mwazo, ODM’s Thomas Mwadeghu and independent candidate John Mruttu have a tough task in woing the Taveta voters, who demonstrated during the just concluded party primaries that they will back one of their own as far as the three county seats of governor, women rep and senator are concerned.
While the Taveta women rep candidate Lydia Haika of Jubilee stole the thunder by thrashing her rivals with a win of over 24,000 votes, incumbent governor John Mruttu lost to Wundanyi MP Thomas Mwadeghu, while for senator, Taveta’s Richard Tairo lost to Johnes Mwaruma in ODM primaries.
However fresh realignments are in the offing and now the hard question remains over whether the Taveta will still back Mruttu who is defending his seat as an independent candidate, or if they will split their votes between Mwadeghu and Mwazo who have picked running mates from Taveta.
Jubilee’s Dan Mwazo has picked little-known Stanley Masamo Mruttu, a nephew to governor John Mruttu, as his running mate, while Mwadeghu has settled for the soft- spoken and unassuming Richard Tairo as his running mate.
There is a general feeling that Mwadeghu’s choice of Tairo as his running mate could lessen the bad blood that developed between the Taita and the Taveta after the shambolic ODM primaries that saw Mruttu, a Mtaveta, lose to Mwadeghu, a Mtaita.
In the final analysis though,the Taveta could still bank their hopes for a deputy governor from Mwazo and Mwadeghu, if Mruttu was to lose in the August polls.
Mruttu resigned officially from ODM in a letter dated May 8, protesting among other things the failure by the party to conduct nominations in five polling stations in his Taveta stronghold.
During a telephone interview with impact news, Mruttu confirmed that he would still tag along with his deputy Mary Ndigha Kibuka as his running mate.
At the same time former Central Bank of Kenya deputy governor Jacintah Mwatela is taking a second stab at the Taita-Taveta gubernatorial post, having lost to incumbent John Mruttu in 2013.Despite challenging the elections outcome in court, Mwatela lost and the victory taken by Mruttu.
Mwatela has picked Alfred Mwangoma Shereta, (who originally hails from Shigharo village in Wundanyi but has settled in Taveta) as her running mate.
In a similar move meant to sway the Taveta vote, independent candidate Erastus Katani has picked Benedict Mutua Nzioka, a Kamba from Taveta, as his running mate.
However, other governorship candidates Granton Samboja, Emmanuel Kisombe and Dr Constantine Mwadime have cast their nets wider in search for their deputies.
Samboja has settled for Majala Mlaghui who hails from Chawia village in Mwatate.Former immigration PS Kisombe has picked Richard Mwangeka, a youth from Mwatate, as his running mate, while Dr Mwadime has picked Eng Dalmas Simba from Bura in Mwatate sub-county as his deputy- in- waiting.
With the final whistle blown, the battle of Taitans had begun in earnest .
It is a show of might between the top contenders, with branded vehicles, huge billboards, banners and thousands of posters doting the county towns and villages, in a race that might be one of the most hotly contested since the first general elections under the devolved system were conducted in 2013.
Captions from top-down ,the full list of gubernatorial candidates and their deputies:
1:Thomas Mwadeghu-Richard Tairo
2:Danson Mwazo-Stanley Masamo Mruttu
3:John Mruttu-Mary Ndigha
4:Erastus Katani-Benedict Mutua Nzioka
5:Jacintah Mwatela-Alfred Shereta
6:Granton Samboja-Majala Mlaghui
7:Emmanuel Kisombe-Richard Mwangeka
8:Dr Costa Mwadime-Eng.Dalmas Simba