Kwale gubernatorial candidates hit the ground running

Kwale gubernatorial candidates in the August 9 General Election have hit the ground running after being cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

After being officially cleared ahead of the August 9 vote the candidates who include veteran politicians and novices wasted no time jumping on the campaign trail.

Kwale County with an estimated population of 650,931 is a county in the coastal region and its headquarters is Kwale Town, although Ukunda is the largest town.

Kwale is mainly an inland county, but it has coastline south of Mombasa and boasts of Diani Beach with Shimba Hills National Reserve and Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary being other major tourist attractions in the county.

The main ethnic communities in the county include the Digo and Duruma clans of the larger Mijikenda tribe but the county also has a significant presence of the Kamba tribe.

The coastal county has four constituencies of Msambweni, Matuga, Kinango and Lunga Lunga.

Beans, cassava, maize, peas, grams and semi-commercial crops, like coconuts and mangoes, are the majority of crops grown in Kwale while cashew nuts, sugarcane, cotton, simsim, bixa and tobacco are cultivated as cash crops.

Those in the race to succeed outgoing Governor Salim Mvurya include his long time loyal deputy Fatuma Achani (UDA), former Agriculture Principal Secretary Prof. Hamadi Boga (ODM), former Cabinet Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere (Wiper), former Kenya Ports Authority official Engineer Chai Lung’anzi (Pamoja Africa Alliance), County Speaker Sammy Ruwa (Independent) and prominent businessman Gereza Dena (Kanu).

Last week the candidates got their certificates of registration for county elections from IEBC at the Kenya School of Government (KSG) Matuga campus.

Prof. Boga and Lung’anzi are first-time contestants with no political backgrounds but have hit the ground with grit and determination.

Political parties and candidates continue to plaster public spaces with banners and posters across the county’s 20 wards as the momentum of political activities is building up.

Campaign signs are already up across the coastal county’s major town’s as the candidates are making all-out efforts to woo the electorate.

The leading candidates vying for the governorship are turning to social media to connect with voters, especially the techno-savvy youth.

Achani who is determined to succeed her boss says she is physically campaigning by hitting the ground to speak to the electorate while at the same time maintaining a strong social media presence to connect with them.

The Deputy Governor who is the only woman in the race says her campaigning for the county’s top seat has kicked off in full swing after the IEBC clearance last week.

Achani stated that the county government has invested a lot in the health sector to ensure that Kwale county residents get quality and reliable healthcare services near them.

“When we took leadership back in 2013, Kwale had very few dispensaries. But here we are today with over 150 dispensaries and we have built maternity wings in all dispensaries to make sure our people get quality services near them. On matters of health, the county is now ranking number two country wide,” Achani said.

The Deputy Governor also urged the people of Kwale to support her in her bid to take over the county leadership in the coming elections.

“I am the only reliable person to continue with the good work and legacy of Governor Salim Mvurya. We have worked together for 10 years now and gained the experience needed to lead and further develop the county,” she added.

“I will try my best and am confident to win because of my track record of serving diligently as deputy governor for the last decade under outgoing governor Mvurya,” says Achani.

She went on: “We take pride in delivering services to our people since the advent of devolution in 2013 and I pledge to continue working as the governor for the betterment of our county”.

Achani urged residents to vote wisely in the forthcoming election and not to entertain propaganda that seeks to discriminate against women and women in leadership.

Governor Mvurya advised residents to vote wisely in the polls by choosing leaders who have visionary goals to take the county to greater heights.

“Tribal, religious, gender and political differences should not be used to divide the people rather they should be reasons to unite us all,” quipped Mvurya.

The outgoing county boss further asked political aspirants not to spread malicious propaganda, and use social media platforms wisely and preach peace during their campaigns.

Mvurya endorsed his long time deputy to take over as the next governor and noted that she had the potential of leading Kwale’s development agenda and providing services to all.

Achani enjoys the backing of all the four outgoing local MPs of Kwale County – Kassim Tandaza (Matuga), Khatib Mwashetani (Lungalunga), Benjamin Tayari (Kinango) and Feisal Bader (Msambweni) – all of whom are in UDA.

Prof. Boga who is seen as her main challenger for the seat enjoys the backing of outgoing senator Issa Boy and Woman Rep Zulekha Hassan.

“My opponents have been in senior government positions for many years but what have they done to justify their being elected? Ask them to show you even a single project that they have done for Kwale people; they have none,” she said.

Achani says her opponents have resorted to abusing and ridiculing her simply because she is a woman.

“They claim a woman cannot lead but ignore the fact that in neighbouring Tanzania we have female president Samia Suluhu,” she said.

Achani says she will continue with the legacy of Governor Mvurya pointing out that they initiated the Sh.400 million ‘Elimu Ni Sasa’ scholarship program in 2013 with the aim of ensuring students in high school and institutions of higher learning achieve greatness in their academic pursuits.

“I will endeavor to pump more resources into the county scholarship program to ensure that Kwale children will continue enjoying quality education” she said.

Prof. Boga who is making his political debut in the upcoming polls says he is leaving nothing to chance noting that he will give his all to win.

“I want to advise Achani to retire peacefully with Governor Mvurya whom she had worked with since 2013 because she will have nothing new to bring on board other than perpetuate the status quo,” he said.

The academic-turned-politician identified fisheries, minerals, agriculture and tourism as the key economic drivers that can take the Kwale to the next level.

Prof. Boga promises a vibrant economy to the locals saying he will engage key stakeholders to plan tourism and fishing sectors revival if elected.

“I will focus on the fishing and tourism sectors as they are the main backbone of our local economy besides aiming to tackle the ballooning youth unemployment,” he said

He observed that the fragile tourism sector needs to bounce back after recording its highest negative growth at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

His supporters portray him as an effective bureaucrat and academician with a knack for picking competent technocrats to get jobs done.

Prof. Boga says as the immediate former agriculture PS his central focus will be on revamping the agricultural sector through value addition and provision of farm inputs.

The gubernatorial aspirant noted that by embracing modern agriculture practices local farmers would be able to increase crop production.

“Anybody seeking to govern Kwale must have a credible platform for farmers’ empowerment” he said while on the campaign trail in Msambweni sub county.

The gubernatorial hopeful has promised to establish agribusiness centers across the five sub counties to boost the agriculture sector if elected governor on August 9, 2022.

He noted that the agro-centers would be well equipped to train local farmers on improved varieties of crops, usage of fertilizers and new techniques in animal husbandry.

“Boosting agriculture would add value to farm produce, create employment for youths and end hunger and poverty through enhanced food security,” he said.

Prof. Boga said there is a need for farmers to abandon obsolete farming methods and adopt modern agricultural practices to boost food production and eradicate poverty and hunger in the county.

On his part Mwakwere a former Matuga MP who will be giving his second stab at the Kwale governor seat has told off those denouncing his candidature on account of his old age.

Mwakewere who is also former Kenyan Ambassador in Tanzania says those criticizing his advanced age forget that the voters also consisted of a high number of older folks.

“I have hit the ground running in previous campaigns and am doing it again because I have a mission and vision to create wealth and turn Kwale around,” said Mwakwere, a shrewd political operator.

Engineer Lung’anzi, a first-time candidate, said if elected he will use his political platform to bring change and accountability and offer a more hands-on approach in the affairs of the community.

“I think a new voice will be refreshing and different in the contest to run the affairs of our beautiful county,” said Lung’anzi who is a new face in the realm of politics.

Dena and Ruwa who are contesting for the governor seat for the second time in a row have also expressed optimism of winning this time round.

Dena, speaking on his plans for the county if given the opportunity, said his areas of concentration would be mainly creating jobs for the unemployed youth and tackling poverty.

Ruwa says that his quest to govern the county is predicated on his passion to address the economic challenges facing residents and spur private investment that has been lukewarm in the region.



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