When none other than NASA Presidential candidate Raila Odinga made the ominous call to Kwale residents to vote out defector governor Salim Mvurya, many thought his end was nigh.
Such an assumption was expected considering that the region is perceived to be an opposition stronghold, which was proved beyond any doubts after upholding its dominance in last week’s polls, though Jubilee made some significant inroads.
However, voters defied the calls to punish Mr. Mvurya for what was considered as betrayal of the opposition cause following his defection to Jubilee from ODM after a fall out with the opposition leadership.
But the walkover NASA expected in the gubernatorial seat was illusory as it was never to be.
Mr. Mvurya proved the naysayers wrong as he emerged victorious on a Jubilee ticket in the hotly contested race, much to the surprise of friends and foes.
He went against the tide together with Msambweni MP-elect Mr. Khatib Mwashetani, with whom he defected to Jubilee, to trounce their opponents.
Mr. Mwashetani was until last week a Ford-Kenya MP.
The soft-spoken Mr. Mvurya, 47, mounted a spirited issue-based campaign persuading residents to vote him back as an individual based on his track record rather on his party affiliation.
He argued that individual leaders are the ones who are ultimately the drivers of development and not parties, which according to him, only serve as vote seeking avenues.
This message seem to have resonated well with residents, with some appreciating that the Governor-elect had delivered on a number of his pledges, especially in education, health and infrastructure.
Education has been one of his top most priorities in his leadership, having initiated one of the most successful county bursary funds in the country with over 30,000 beneficiaries, so far.
The disbursement of over Sbillion worth of bursaries to needy students under his watch, won him popularity among poor families whose children were for the first time able to access higher education.
This is in line with his vision to transform the lives of Kwale people, especially by ensuring children access quality education.
A holder of a Master’s Degree in Participation, Power and Social change, Mr. Mvurya’s boldness in the face of the NASA onslaught, seem to have paid off since he is among the few governors who ditched the opposition who survived the voters’ wrath.
All his colleagues � Mr. Kenneth Lusaka (Bungoma), Mr. Hassan Dado (Tana River), and Ukur Yatani (Marsabit), lost.
Mr. Mvurya walloped four other candidates, including former Kenya’s Ambassador to Tanzania Mr. Chirau Ali Mwakwere (Wiper), who came third after ODM’s Issa Chipera.
Rivalry between NASA candidates, who split their vote, also cost the opposition the seat, after each of them insisted on vying.
Mr. Mwakwere and Mr. Chipera turned a deaf ear to calls for one of them to step down for the other, hence weakening the opposition’s chances of winning.
Mr. Mvurya had to wither an aggressive smear campaign by his opponents who made all manner of allegations against him, including claims that he was an outsider with ethnic roots in Taita-Taveta.
Unsubstantiated claims were also made against him and his deputy governor-elect Ms. Fatuma Achani that they had squandered millions of shillings on two portable toilets used in their public functions.
His opponents also used the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission’s indictment of Kwale as the most corrupt county in coast region, to vilify Mr. Mvurya, but amazingly the voters and fate were on his side and was given a second chance.
Source: Kenya News Agency