Kenya: Why 2022 Is Special for These Nine Deputy Governors

opinion

At least nine deputy governors who will have served for two terms have either set their sights on succeeding their outgoing bosses or running for parliamentary seats.

These deputy governors, like their bosses, the second term governors, are barred by the constitution from running for the same office again in next year's elections.

Deputy Governors Hamilton Orata (Homa Bay), Nelson Mahanga Mwita (Migori), Joash Maangi (Kisii), Philip Kutima (Kakamega), Adelina Mwau (Makueni), Fatuma Achani (Kwale), Stanley Tarus (Trans Nzoia), Daniel Chemno (Uasin Gishu) and Eveline Aruasa (Narok), therefore, have to turn to other positions.

Majority told the Nation they are now eyeing the governor's seat but some, like Mr Tarus, aren't dreaming about ascending to the post, citing complicated local politics.

Mr Tarus said he will vie for a parliamentary seat because he does not believe he has a chance to win the governorship in Trans Nzoia, a cosmopolitan county, citing he comes from a minority tribe.

That ethnic arithmetic, he feels, undermines his quest to succeed Patrick Khaemba.

And he is banking on passage of Building Bridges Initiative constitutional reforms as his region is earmarked to get two extra parliamentary seats.

"I am still waiting to see the direction this BBI will take. If it sails through, we will get two additional constituencies giving me an opportunity to vie for a parliamentary seat. Am still consulting with my people because here we depend on negotiated democracy so it is possible that I can even go for senate depending on what the community will say," he explains.

Some of the deputy governors are racing against time to push for the completion of some of the flagship projects ahead of next year's general election hoping to ride on that success.

For some deputies who have worked well with their bosses, like Prof Kutima, they will benefit from the endorsement of the outgoing county chiefs, an advantage especially where the duo have performed.

Mr Oparanya says that he would like to leave the county on what he described as 'good foundation' for the sake of continuation of his legacy.

"If you do not have a good foundation, even a house you are constructing will not stand. Therefore, I am putting up a strong foundation and that is why am working closely with my deputy so that when I leave, he takes over to go on with my legacy," said Mr Oparanya.

But for others who have had frosty relations like Mr Maangi who has constantly been at loggerheads with Governor James Ongwae, that endorsement is not guaranteed.

"Of course I am running for the gubernatorial seat next year," Mr Maangi said.

He however acknowledges that there is a challenge between balancing the interests of the outgoing county boss and his political ambitions.

"Sometimes as second term deputy governor, the biggest challenge is balancing your interest as a candidate and that of the outgoing governor, who is interested in a legacy. It is not a bad challenge, but it becomes a big issue if the second term governor is not interested in any legacy," Mr Maangi argues.

He says if a deputy governor works well with the governor, one can capitalise on the joint achievements to drive a political agenda.

"If I worked well with Ongwae so that we deliver on our mandate, it becomes an advantage and that is why sometimes that every deputy governor tries not to fight with his governor. For me, I do not have a problem with my governor, the only problem is that sometimes we read from different political scripts. That is the only challenge but at personal level, I do not have any problem with him," Mr Maangi says.

"It is good to work well with your outgoing boss so that when he is interested in leaving a good legacy, you will be busy leveraging what you did together so that you have some at least to show. My interest and that of the governor must not collide, in terms of development, they should sink," he adds.

On many occasions, Mr Maangi has come out guns blazing, seemingly fighting Mr Ongwae either by himself or through proxies.

In a case of the hunter becoming the hunted, Mr Maangi, who has been calling on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate his boss, was in late 2020 summoned to appear before the anti-corruption agency over allegations that he filed false information during the 2017 elections.

It is the allegations Mr Maangi made after being questioned by EACC, accusing his boss, Mr Ongwae and some senior officers in the county of being behind his woes that are at the centre of the current feud.

Mr Orata told the Nation that he is interested in succeeding Governor Cyprian Awiti arguing that he has the experience and expertise to run the county.

"God willing, I am in the race to be the second governor of Homa Bay come 2022... I got the experience that is required," said Mr Orata.

Mr Orata who has been seen as a loyal deputy of the county boss disclosed that at the moment he has not come out to declare it publically arguing that he does not want it to distract him from helping Governor Awiti in fulfilling what they pledged residents of Homa Bay county.

"At the moment, I am not too loud about it because I am still serving as deputy governor and I would wish to see a couple of things done, the projects which we started, I would wish to see them completed so that the governor can also leave a legacy," he said.

In April 2019, Mr Awiti delegated his duties to his deputy- Mr Orata as he took time off to recover after surgery.

This is after the governor, who had been out of the public eye, returned to Kenya after undergoing an eye operation in Germany.

By then, Mr Awiti's absence had sparked speculations on his ability to run the county with local politicians criticising its operations.

Mr Orata will be battling it out with some of the top brass of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)- John Mbadi (Suba South), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) and former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero.

Mr Mwita who is the deputy of Governor Okoth Obado is also positioning himself for the county's top seat in a unique environment where negotiated democracy is used in every election.

In Migori County, which is considered cosmopolitan, when the Luo community produces governors, the deputy has to come from Kuria and that has been the case since the inception of the devolved system.

"I am going for nothing less than a gubernatorial seat come 2022," said Mr Mwita in a brief reply to the Nation.

Last year when the High Court blocked Mr Obado, who was facing graft charges, from accessing his offices. Mr Mwita took over key functions of the county.

"I'm back and ready to discharge my duties in the absence of my boss. My prolonged absence from the public was occasioned by sickness but I have fully recovered," he said at the time.

"I do not wish for the governor to be thrown behind bars, he is in my prayers and I have no intention to unseat him."

In Makueni, Ms Mwau is banking on what she termed as 'good legacy' of Governor Kivutha Kibwana's administration to vie for the gubernatorial seat next year.

"If you serve as a deputy governor for 10 years, who else is better than you? We have worked very well with Professor, from inception, we have worked well until it is one of the best counties in the country in terms of being accountable to the people," she said.

According to Ms Mwau, time has come for women to vie for the gubernatorial seat, something she says that will bring to an end the notion that women can only serve as deputies.

"My next political move is to succeed Prof Kivutha Kibwana, the direction we are taking is that of Tanzania, Kirinyaga, Kwale, the syndrome of women being deputies, we are after undoing it, we can also be governors," said Ms Mwau.

According to Uasin Gishu deputy governor Daniel Chemno, he is yet to decide on his next political move noting that he is preparing himself well-enough for the next move.

"I am currently on the drawing board and since I cannot be a deputy to any gubernatorial candidate in next year's election, I am putting everything in place for that," he said.

Article 180 (7) of the Constitution says that a person shall not hold office-- (a) as a county governor for more than two terms; or (b) as a deputy county governor for more than two terms.

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