From door to door campaigns after his nomination and now with a total of 24,636 votes, Imran Okoth won the Kibra by-elections against Macdonald Mariga who managed to garner a total of 11,230 votes according to the results announced by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Friday 8th November 2019. The by-election brought a close to campaigns that reached fever pitch in Kibera Constituency and also the race to succeed one of the most dynamic and highly impactful MPs in Kibra, the late Ken Okoth.
Unlike other by-elections, this one was one of its own with high stakes just by the manner it was handled. While each candidate tried to ring-fence their political space, their respective political parties stole the show to the extent that the electorate almost lost sight of the aspirants’ commitment to them. Some parties used the platform as training ground for 2022 election politics and others to drum up support for the highly anticipated BBI report. The media, in their agenda-setting role, played right into the political godfathers’ hands as opposed to properly dissecting the manifestos being floated.
It is undeniable that other factors remaining constant, much of the electoral success is owed to the political parties and not just to the candidates. The political machinery that was deployed in the campaigns resultantly puts MP-elect Imran Okoth on the spot even as political parties retreat to the backstage. The ground is now fertile for implementation of the poems and manifestos shared during the campaign period; it is now time for Imran to put his hands on the plough.
Imran now has about 2 years before the next elections to walk the talk and effectively deliver on his representation, implementation and legislative mandate. As he assumes office as a member of the National Assembly, it will be high time he realizes that he has the right tools to effect change and advance the vision that the late Ken had laid out for Kibra.
A heavy task lies ahead and Imran should prioritize unifying the constituents. Thanks to the shot in the arm from his main opponent, Mariga, less effort is needed to achieve this. Once peace is restored, the road map towards development will be clear.
It is clear that Kibra has been running on the right path to development and equality under the leadership of Ken. This by-election was an opportune moment for the electorate to pick a representative who can also champion for sustainable policies that will promote self-sufficiency of a people once considered ‘children of a lesser god’.
If well utilized, the political climate in place presents a great opportunity for Imran to ensure that he sustains the life of projects such as the Education First policy and the youth-led sewerage cleanup projects initiated by Ken Okoth, that were centred around the citizen.
But even as Kibra recollects, we need to reflect on the ongoing national politics. As a country, we should rethink our approach and conduct especially in violence-prone areas. The instances of incitement and voter bribery are now becoming publicly acceptable issues coupled with violence masked as protection of votes. We should not allow ourselves to forget that these acts by leaders, that consequently compromise voter-integrity, have cost us lives and resulted in great damage to property in the recent past.