Top Stories / Counties
Friday, 24 Feb 2017 15:54 EATcgitau@kenyafreepress.com
With Nairobi's competitive politics, only five individuals have served for more than two parliamentary terms in the city since independence: Maina Kamanda, Beth Mugo, Njoroge Mungai, Fred Gumo and Raila Odinga. And of the four, Mr Odinga holds the record for being elected in four consecutive elections, serving 20 years in total.
From the look of things, Mr Kamanda, the three-time MP for Starehe constituency, is poised to match Mr Odinga's record. The MP is serving his third term, having been elected from 1997-2007 and then from 2013-2017. He lost during the 2007 general election to Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, but reclaimed the seat in 2013 under the TNA party ticket. Mr Kamanda has also served in the cabinet as minister for sports between 2005-2008.
In the current Parliament, he is serving as a member of the Liaison Committee and is concurrently the chairperson of the departmental Committee on Public Works, Roads and Transport - achievements that certainly reflect the long journey the MP has walked from his previous position of a city councillor.
Such achievements are attainable only through hard work and perseverance for which Kamanda is well known. The MP has gained fame for doing a lot for his constituents, most notably in the education sector. His CDF funds are generally well administered and the MP has put funds for needy children whose parents are not able to pay fees for them.
Several politicians have come up to challenge Mr Kamanda. One of them is Steve Mbogo who was born on 29 October 1986 and reputed to be Kenya's youngest billionaire. Running on the opposition ODM party ticket, Mr Mbogo aims to get the support of opposition supporters who are expected to vote as a bloc for whoever will be nominated by that party. He has a lot of supporters especially the youths who are saying that they need a youth or simply a young person as him.
There is also photojournalist and an activist Boniface Mwangi. Born on 10 July 1983, Mr Mwangi has been involved in social-political activism through his initiative 'Team Courage' which is a movement that aims to instill a sense of hope and self-belief in a generation of young change makers by enabling patriotic citizens to take bold and effective actions in building a new Kenya.
Mr Mwangi is known for his images of the post-election violence that hit Kenya in 2007–2008. He is also the founder of Picha Mtaani, a youth-led peace initiative that primarily seeks to create space for young people to reconcile and become agents of reconciliation to their respective communities.
The activist has a big following of Kenyans on social media. He is also a regular speaker on television shows and is highly regarded as one Kenya's bravest social rights campaigners. At the same time, his significant support base is mostly national. Running as an independent, he has a lot of critics who do not believe in him and who say they will in no way vote for him to join the ‘mpigs’ as he has called MPs.
One other aspirant is Mwaniki Kwenya, who has declared his interest in the seat through the Maendeleo Chap Chap ticket. He studied at Nairobi University and is the director of Jomwa Properties. He also has got few supporters who are encouraging him to better his best.
Last but not least is Simon Kamangu who studied agribusiness at Egerton University. He is running on a Jubilee Party ticket though he seems to have few supporters and others criticizing him, he is still ready to run for the seat. He would first face Kamanda at the party’s primaries before the main general elections.
Of all the above aspirants, Mr Mbogo is the only one who could challenge the incumbent. He has done a lot for the youth and other people. Yet he has been hobbled by media reporting about some of his controversial comments, such as claiming ownership or shareholding in companies that ended up disowning him. The other aspirants should work harder to make their intentions well known to the public so as to if they are to make an impact in the August 8 elections.
Being the constituency of the capital, Starehe faces some unique problems such insecurity, hawking and drug abuse which happen from the central business district. The debate over the banning of hawking from the streets is still ongoing. In the past, numerous bloody battles have taken place between Nairobi City County askaris and hawkers.
For short spans of time, hawkers have been cleared from the CBD only to return in larger numbers. Established businesspeople with shops and offices in the CBD have frequently lodged complaints about the way hawking obstructs their licensed businesses by selling wares.