Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Sunday, 18 Dec 2016 15:27 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
In a region where the Orange Democratic Movement party holds considerable sway, one would be forgiven for assuming that Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya committed political suicide by his recent defection to the Jubilee Party. However, the governor is immensely popular on the ground owing to his many accomplishments and down to earth personality. Rather than emerging as an outright loser, Mr Mvurya could help Jubilee make inroads in the county where it performed dismally in 2013.
The governor’s campaign has been far from easy. However, while other aspirants for the seat are promising voters what they intend to do, Mr Mvurya is visiting projects he has implemented over the last four years and asking people to make their choices based on what they have actually seen. This weekend, the governor was in Vigurungani, Puma Ward, inspecting some of his projects.
The county government has equipped Vigurungani Hospital with an ambulance and maternity wing, set up a social hall and ward office where residents interact with their administrators. In the same area, the county administration has implemented the Nyalani irrigation project which has seen hundreds of farmers make good money from horticultural crops. The governor has also commissioned the Nyalani-Vigurungani water pipeline project which will be completed in 2017.
The healthcare system in Kwale has been substantially revamped under Governor Mvurya. The governor has seen over 22 maternity wings constructed in 22 health facilities, thereby resulting in increased hospital deliveries and reduced casualties through delivery. The programme will cut the high infant mortality rate in Kwale which is currently in the bottom ten in Kenya. He has also overseen the building of renal and ICU facilities at the Msambweni Referral Hospital, where a blood bank is currently being established.
The governor has installed a modern medical theatre at Lunga Lunga Hospital. At the main Kwale Hospital, the county has installed an X-ray wing and ultramodern mortuary, both of which will be commissioned soon. Throughout its medical facilities, the county has hired more than 100 health personnel since 2013.
With these achievements, Mr Mvurya is looking forward to a tough fight with whoever ODM will nominate against him in 2017. Already, there is celebration in the governor’s camp given that former minister Ali Chirau Mwakwere could land the party ticket following his recent defection.
Mr Mwakere’s main strength is that he would be in ODM, the most popularly party in Kwale, and that CORD leader Raila Odinga would campaign for him. Other than that, the former minister is an unpopular pick for the governor’s seat. For long, he primed his Kwale politics on the fact that he was a Mdigo and a Muslim, unlike the established political families were from the Duruma and mostly Christian faith. However, with Mr Mvurya in the seat, it would be hard for Mwakwere to play sectarian politics.
While different communities live in Kwale and call Kwale their home, Mr Mwakwere’s politics has been one based on fear-mongering, hate against people from upcountry, who apparently he will now court as a member of ODM. “For Mr Mvurya, there has been no difference between a poor Digo and a poor Duruma. He has tried to bring projects that benefit us both, now we don’t want to go back to old politics,” said an ODM supporter in Msambweni who has vowed never to vote for Mwakwere if he is selected as the party candidate.
A teacher’s union official in Kwale Town said: “What has happened in this county is phenomenal. There is no question that Mvurya is the best governor in the entire Coast, he is effective and reachable to the people,” said the official, who explained that even Mr Odinga recognised Mvurya's record. "A week before the governor announced his defection, the former prime minister was here and endorsed him for automatic re-election nomination," the teacher said.
An active social media commentator Rashid Mayeko said, “How can we compare Mvurya and Mwakwere? It's like comparing day and night. Mvurya is trying to his best to transform Kwale and Mwakwere is after power, political position and money.” Other pundits said the governor would face a few questions regarding the use of county funds but none would undermine his campaign in a fundamental way.
Some local activists believe Kwale County Assembly Speaker Sammy Ruwa, who before Mr Mwakwere’s defection was the frontrunner for the ODM ticket, would be a better pick for the party if ODM can identify strong Digo senator and deputy governor. Mr Mwakwere is expected to nominate former Kinango MP Simeon Mkalla as his deputy.