The Independent Electoral Boundary Commission (IEBC) has cleared 13 candidates to vie for gubernatorial post in Taita-Taveta County, paving way for a bruising political battle for the county’s top seat.
Seven candidates were cleared on Saturday, three on Sunday while two and one more candidates got IEBC’s nod on Monday and Tuesday respectively.
With thirteen contestants, Taita-Taveta County has the highest number of governors’ aspirants in Kenya.
Speaking after he was cleared to vie, Governor Granton Samboja, who is vying under Jubilee ticket called for peaceful campaigns stating that the county would still be operating after the elections.
“We are calling for all aspirants to do peaceful campaigns while knowing we have a county to preserve,” he said.
Governor Samboja is facing stiff competition from his predecessor John Mruttu who is vying under the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket.
Mruttu said he was confident of clinching the seat owing to the lack of development in the last five years he has been out of office.
“We set a very strong foundation for growth but unfortunately nothing has happened. We need to set the county back to the path of growth and progress,” he said.
Other frontrunners for the post include MwatateMember of Parliament (MP), Andrew Mwadime, who is vying as an Independent candidate. The second term MP said the County was suffering due to lack of vision by the leaders who were wholly relying on money from the National Treasury to boost development.
He added that he would introduce programs that promote growth of industry and innovation to create employment and generate revenue for the residents.
“I have plans on how the County can exploit its resources. I did it as an MP where over 5,000 youths started engaging in mining activities. This only happens when leaders have vision,” he said.
Others include Mr. Francis Mwaita of Safina Party. Mr. Mwaita, who was senior finance officer with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), said he has vast experience in financial management and was confident of steering the county to higher development heights.
“I have adequate experience in managing finances and I will bring managerial skills to the county. My team and I will fight misuse of public funds as we invest in exploiting our natural resources,” he said.
Former Senator, Dan Mwazo, is also vying for the county’s top post with Wiper Party. This is the second time Mwazo is contesting for the highly coveted seat having unsuccessfully tried his luck in 2017 via Jubilee ticket.
Prof. Agnes Mwang’ombe, a plant pathologist, is as well vying for governor’s post under the Amani National Congress (ANC) banner. She said that she would revolutionize the agricultural sector by investing heavily in dry-land farming which would benefit more than half of the county’s population.
“This is a time to trigger unprecedented growth in agriculture and make sure our people benefit from the training,” she said.
Mr. Stephen Mwakesi, a veteran policy analyst, is also eyeing the same seat under People’s Empowerment Party. Mwakesi, who is also the party leader, said he would rejuvenate the economy of the region including working closely with stakeholders to promote growth of key sectors in the economy.
“I intend to ensure we have a county that is doing well economically. This will call for strategic partnerships with stakeholders to unlock the potential of this county,” he said.
Mr. Godino Mwasaru, an independent candidate, stated that his campaign would focus on empowering the local community to ensure their issues were handled properly. He stated his focus would include restoration of proper health care for the county.
Mr. Thomas Mwakwida, a retired banker, who is vying for the same post will be flying the ODM banner and pledged to bring in prudent financial management in the county. He also promised to improve resource utilization and procurement process.
Mr. George Mwadembo will be going for the governor’s post while flying the DAP-K flag. Other candidates include lawyer Onesmus Mwinzi who is vying as an independent candidate and media personality Patience Nyange who is vying under the Narc-Kenya ticket.
IEBC County Returning Officer, Ms. Eisha Mohammed, said the clearance exercise went on smoothly with all the candidates meeting the conditions set by the poll body. She stated that IEBC asked all contestants to ensure they promoted unity and cohesion during the campaigns.
“We have asked all contestants to be peaceful and advocate for peace as they do their campaigns,” she said.