By Mzalendo Writer
It will indeed be a riveting and expensive battle in Juja Constituency, which is in the heartland of Central Kenya, and money is expected to play a critical role in deciding who becomes the next Juja Member of Parliament in the December 27 general elections.
The cosmopolitan constituency, which is in Thika district, is largely a business zone as most of its bigger part is dry thus not conducive for farming. Quarries and coffee estate dominate the bigger part of the constituency.
It has a large immigrant population, which is estimated at 30 percent of the electorate. They are mainly factory workers in the industrial towns of Thika, Ruiru and Juja. Githurai, a populous area adjacent to Nairobi also falls under Juja constituency.
William Kabogo Gitau, a wealthy and flamboyant Sisi Kwa Sisi politician is the immediate former Juja Member of Parliament and he would be seeking re-election. He is commonly referred to as “Chopper man” for his love of a helicopter which he owns. Come the December general election, Kabogo, 47, will square it out with hordes of aspirants, a notable force being an equally wealthy businessman, the “Citi Hoppa” bus company chief executive Mr. George Thuo. Residents are describing the scenario as the battle between a helicopter and a bus. Mr. Thuo is a business associate of internal security Minister and Kangema legislator Mr. John Michuki. Mr. Kabogo has claimed that Mr. Michuki is on a mission to ensure that his ally and business associate ousts the Chopper man.
There is quite a lengthy list of other aspirants in Juja constituency including: Mr. Dick Githaiga, a constructor and a long time buddy of President Mwai Kibaki; former Juja Member of Parliament Mr. Stephen Ndicho who is currently a preacher; Ms. Alice Wambui Ng’ang’a, a young stone mining agent; Dr. Kiama Wangai an advocate cum pathologist’ Mr. Francis Waititu Munyua an Estate Manager commonly known as “Wakapee”; Mrs. Beatrice Wairimu a women’s leader; Mrs. Mary Kirika, a businesswoman; Mrs. Eunice Gathigia Githua; Mrs. Agnes Wangui Kibugu; Mr. Charles Ng’ang’a Muchai, who contested the seat in 2002 on the ruling National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) ticket and came second to Mr.Kabogo; Mr. David Nzioka and Mr. Boniface Karanja, a social worker with the Anglican Church. It will indeed be a tight pick for the voters in Juja constituency.
Mr. Kabogo has vowed that he will pour money into Juja and make sure that nobody dislodges him. He has however received a lot of negative remarks from constituents for conducting his meet the people tour with a chopper, which is considered showing off. According to residents, he has done very little for Juja people despite his remarks that he has enough money to an extent that he can loan the Kenyan government. Mr. Kabogo is on record saying that he is not in Parliament to make money but to assist poor people of Juja.
As far as his development record, he has installed electricity in most parts of Juja constituency through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). A number of police posts have also been put up through CDF. Those which have been completed include Mwiki Police Post in Githurai location, Prison AP Post (Kihunguro) and Kahawa Sukari Police Post both in Ruiru location. Others include Ndururumo Police Post and Thika Location Chief’s Toilet in Thika location. CDF funds have also been used to put up several health facilities such as Athi Dispensary, Juja Farm dispensary and Gatuanyaga Dispensary, and roads in Kiandutu slums and Athena have been greatly improved.
Mr. Kabogo is praised by many to have a touch for the needy and poor and he is also praised to be a man down to earth despite his immense wealth. He is considered by many voters as somebody who is always on the ground. He is very popular especially with youths and he has stayed close to the ground throughout his entire tenure the last 5 years. This would be a big plus for him come the voting day. He has, however, not been having a cozy time with some key government officials including Michuki who may campaign against him.