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The race for the 2027 Kakamega gubernatorial seat has already kicked off in earnest, four years to the next elections.

Senator Boni Khalwale and Woman Representative Elsie Muhanda have openly declared their interest in the seat and spent most of their December holidays galvanising for support across the vast and populous county.

Khalwale has been hosting delegations of elders and opinion shapers from the various sub-tribes at his Malinya home in Ikolomani constituency.

The forums climaxed in his “anointment” as the spokesperson of the Idakho and Isukha sub-tribes on Tuesday.

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Yesterday, the senator held a breakfast meeting with some of the senior members of the Wanga sub-tribe at a hotel in Mumias town.

“I am mature, experienced and seasoned enough to prudently utilise public funds allocated to our great county for the betterment of our people,” said Khalwale.

“What has been happening in the past years and currently is open sleaze and misuse of resources channeled to our county and that is why I am committed to take over in 2027,” he added.

Muhanda has on the other hand been traversing the county campaigning under the slogan “Mama Witsula Muskirt” (a mother well fitted in a skirt).

“I have performed very well as a County Executive and doing much better as a Woman Representative. I, thus, believe, 2027 offers me an opportunity to break the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to be elected to such a high profile political office,” she said.

Political affiliation
But the duo has a mountain to climb going by their political affiliations and geographical considerations.

Both hail from Ikolomani which is one of the constituencies under Kakamega Central zone.

While Muhanda comes from Ikolomani, she is married in the neighboring Shinyalu regarded as Khalwale’s political stronghold.

Khalwale is allied to UDA whose Secretary-General Cleophas Malala is also said to be interested in seeking a second stab at the governorship come 2027. Khalwale and Malala are political competitors.

Malala contested for the seat in 2022 on an ANC ticket and lost to incumbent Fernandes Barasa of ODM. He has been busy popularising UDA in the county and other parts of the Western region and held another successful tournament whose top team was awarded Sh3 million. He is, however, yet to declare his political plans for 2027.

Khalwale appears isolated as no MP from the county accompanies him on his campaign trails. None has, this far, publicly voiced any support for him.

Muhanda is allied to ODM and her chances appeared to have hit turbulence when the party leader Raila Odinga voiced his preference for Barasa.

Rallied support
Raila rallied support for the county chief during a New Year party at his home in Matungu constituency.

“It is too early to start expressing interest in this or that seat because it will derail development. Leaders should concentrate on their various positions and wait until 2027 to start campaigning for whichever positions that they want,” he said.

But speaking yesterday, Muhanda defended her quest to unseat Barasa, with four years to the next General Election, saying it was not a crime for her to declare her interest in the seat this early.

She said she had decided to make her intentions known so that her supporters would help her galvanize for support.

“It is not illegal for me to express my desire in becoming the third governor of Kakamega. This is a vast county which one needs to seek support over a long period of time,” she added.

The MP stated that her bid for the top county seat would not impact negatively on her performance as a Member of the National Assembly. She said she was seeking to break the record by becoming the first woman to be elected as governor in the county.

“We hold the dubious record of never having elected a woman to represent a constituency, to the Senate or Governor. We even have less than five elected female MCAs in a county of sixty Wards. This must come to an end come 2027,” she added.

Muhanda said she was confident of dethroning Barasa whom she accused of dishonesty and corruption.

“We traversed all corners of the county campaigning for Barasa who was not known anywhere. But he immediately reneged on promises he had made and sidelined those who fought for him, including myself,” she added.

Speaking in Kakamega, the Woman Representative pointed out that while she will not frustrate the governor from discharging his duties, she would be busy galvanizing for support. She said she had the experience to deliver as the county chief having initially worked as a CEC in the administration of first governor Wycliffe Oparanya and now as County MP.

124-year-old African woman advises cleaning blood vessels at home.

—PD

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