By Anthoney Ochieng
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is set to pick the Bonchari Constituency parliamentary seat in a by-election that will be held on the 18th of May 2021. This is according to the most reliable Opinion Poll released by the Centre for African Progress (CAP). CAP is the same company that correctly predicted President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2017 victory over Raila Odinga, in a survey that found Uhuru to be winning by 52% ahead of Raila’s 43%. The final outcome was 54% for Uhuru and 43% for Raila.
In Bonchari, Pavel Oimeke of ODM is leading with 40% of the vote. His closest competitor is Zebedeo Opore of Jubilee who has 24%. UDA’s Teresa Bitutu, a widow of the former MP closes the top three with 20%. The poll which has a margin of error of 1.7% sampled 1,400 people.
The collected results are as follows:
The survey that was conducted from the 12th through the 14th of May took into account the salient characteristics of potential voters. These include registration as a voter within the constituency, the history of voting, participation in the political process, and knowledge of the candidates. People who have voted in the past are more likely to vote. The same case applies to those who are passionately involved in the political process. The Centre for African Progress notes that is deliberately focuses on these factors when selecting respondents to their survey questions when carrying out opinion polls.
Research experts agree that such emphasis increases the reliability of the outcome.
Below is a graphical representation of the outcome with the top five candidates:
The lead by ODM’s Oimeke is not surprising given the popularity of the party in Kisii. The governor of Kisii County is H.E. James Ongwae who is in office courtesy of ODM. That ODM never won parliamentary seats from Kisii in the 2017 general election is still a mystery because there is arguably no other party that is as strong as the orange party in this part of the country.
The government through the Ministry of Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i has done its best to push Zebedeo Opore who is vying on a Jubilee ticket, but it looks like the ground is not accepting the deal. While Opore might be having his own issues on the ground, there is general hatred for the Interior CS, Dr. Matiang’i, with many people in the entire Kisii region branding him as a mean sellout who is seeking to satisfy his own interests while ignoring the needs of the larger community, with missing out on police slots being mentioned as the most glaring display of the cabinet secretary’s wanting leadership. “We are not interested in anybody Matiang’i is supporting,” many of those interviewed said. “He is interested in himself and his family.” They added. They argued that while PS Karanja Kibicho is his junior in the ministry, the PS is able to fight for his people, making sure they have access to government resources and jobs.
There is some truth to this given that major Interior projects such as Huduma Number, the Census, and police recruitment were run mainly by the PS.
It is not possible to tell whether Zebedeo Opore would have fared any better without Matiang’i’s support.
UDA’s third slot seems appropriate given the fact that the new party is struggling in the region. The Deputy President, Dr. William Ruto, who happens to be gaining momentum, has attracted the support of selfish and suspicious individuals who are known for scamming more than anything else. All these scammers have helped do is keeping others away from reaching the Deputy President, contrary to the Kisii culture of supporting leaders they have met and interacted with. The UDA challenges are compounded by the weak candidature of the late MP’s wife, Teresa Bitutu, who is struggling to wade through the tumultuous waters of elective politics. There is also the voter dislike for the sense of entitlement that comes with a family member of a former member of parliament being tapped to replace him or her. In Matungu constituency by-elections, the wife of the former MP lost by a landslide, coming in at the tail end of the race.
Other factors at play on this by-election include clanism and resources. Oimeke is personally well resourced, meaning that he does not have to wait for funding from other areas to carry out quick campaign actions. He also has support from a former MP, Charles Onyancha, who comes from a Ward, Bogiakumu, which boasts more than 14,000 votes. This places Opore at a disadvantage because he shares his Riana Ward with Oimeke, and has no significant influence outside his ward.
The comfortable lead by ODM’s candidate is a red light to Jubilee and the government that if they play any monkey business, the people will reject the outcome.