Even before dust has settled after the demise of Msambweni ODM MP Suleiman Dori politicians have hit the ground campaigning to fill the vacant post.
Among those already laying the ground for the seat is Kwale governor Salim Mvurya who wants his CEC for finance Bakari Sebe to take over as the next Msambweni MP.
Mvurya is convinced that his candidate will emerge victorious outside ODM ticket the same way he managed to be re-elected on a Jubilee ticket in an opposition zone.
It is also reported that William Ruto is keen to ensure a candidate supported by him and Mvurya carries the day.
Sources said the DP told Mvurya to him to look for a strong candidate to face ODM for the Msambweni seat. Ruto is said to have been emboldened following an incident where John Mbadi was booed and heckled when he tried to attack him during Dori’s funeral. Not spared was MP Oscar Sudi.
Minority leader James Orengo, secretary general Sifuna and other party MPs watched in disbelief as Mbadi was heckled by mourners when he said Ruto is corrupt. The incident is said to have shaken ODM fatcats who now believe they have to be careful in selecting the candidate to avoid embarrassment.
According to sources, Ruto has indicated he would personally be on the ground to campaign for the candidate Mvurya will bring forward. It is however not clear if the chosen candidate will fly a Jubilee flag given the bad blood and confusion among party members.
Ruto sent Sudi and Charles Keter to represent him at the burial. There was a heavy presence of upcountry voters in the two wards of Ukunda town namely Gombatto/Pongwe and Diani. The voting pattern in the two wards has determined the outcome in the last two general elections.
ODM is expected to attract the highest number of aspirants given that the area is viewd as an opposition stronghold. Already, there are those who are proposing county ODM vice-chairman Nicholas Zani. He was the presidential chief agent for ODM in the county during last general elections.
Zani is a businessman at Diani. In 2013 general elections, he contested for Kwale senate seat but lost to the late Boy Juma Boy. He is however credited for delivering the Kinondo ward seat to ODM during a by-election last year.
One of Zani’s strengths is his support among upcountry voters and church leaders in Msambweni constituency. It remains to be seen if ODM party will favour him.
Another likely ODM aspirant will be Omar Boga, currently a director at fisheries and former MCA for Gombatto/Pongwe. He is a younger brother of Agriculture PS Hamad Boga. But matters may be complicated for him because his PS brother is interested in becoming Kwale governor in 2022.
Within the late Dori family, his bother Ramadhan and nephew Feasal are being fronted as potential replacements on ODM ticket. However, the mood on the ground is such that the voters may not like the idea of a family member automatically inheriting the seat.
If ODM decides to force a candidate down the throats of Msambweni voters, Mvurya’s fronted candidate will easily carry the day, observers say.
There is also talk that former ODM governor candidate who lost to Mvurya intends to try his lack for the MP seat. He hails from Kinondo ward. Three former Msambweni MPs namely Omar Zonga, Abdalla Ngozi and Marere Mwachai are also being mentioned as possible contenders.
A former longserving Msambweni MP Kassim Mwamzandi has quit politics due to old age and financial difficulties. It is not clear if his politically active daughter Sharifa will join the race.
A former Kwale county council chairman Mshenga Rugha has announced his interest for the seat, but many dismiss him as a broker. He is an on and off DP Ruto man.