‘Kigumo voters lied to me and ate my Sh300k’ – Nairobi News

Joseph Kibugi, now 27, was confident that he would easily win the Kigumo parliamentary seat in the last General Election.

After all, he had for five years, crisscrossed the constituency offering inspirational talks to the boy child under his Kibugi wa Ihíí Foundation.

During that period, he had practically become a household name.

The term ihíí applies to uncircumcised boys, and Mr Kibugi being a Bachelor of Science graduate in Applied Computer Science believed he was uniquely grounded and tech savvy enough to walk into Parliament as he would into his sitting room.

He says he kept wondering why the other candidates were running against him “when the ground was firmly in his favour.”

Believing that political parties were there to kill good candidates’ prospects, he refused to join either of the competing formations and threw his lot with the Independent ticket.

By February 2022, he had even written his acceptance and inaugural speeches, only waiting for the big day, since the whole constituency appeared to be solidly behind him.

“The church told me I was Godsend, the elders rated me as the shrines’ chosen one, prophets said all the spirits were with me and the voters vowed that I was conjoined with them, hence inseparable all the way to the ballot. I became Sh300,000 poorer to pay back the praise,” Mr Kibugi muses.

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Then the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) made public the requirements that all prospective independent candidate had to meet before being cleared to run.

“On face value, the conditions appeared noble and achievable. Then I realised that it was not that simple,” he recalls.

Back in 2013 and 2017, independent parliamentary candidates only needed the names of 1,000 registered voters and their ID card numbers.

“Then in 2022, IEBC decided to add more stringent measures, including a demand that Independents attach IDs’ photocopies and signatures of those proposing them,” he said.

He admits that the new requirements exposed his soft underbelly to the electorate and his competitors to a point most of the times he was running away from irate mobs instead of campaigning.

“The very people who had all along touted me as a man of the people, telling me that I was the anointed one and the next big thing, started demanding money from me,” he laments.

More trouble came from the elderly who had earlier on blessed him. The moment he went to them requesting them to hand over their ID cards for him to photocopy, the elders accused him of being a land fraudster out to forge their title deeds and make them squatters.

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Even preparing the endorsement bio data was hell for him.

“You had to type the data with utmost correctness since if you messed even on spelling of a name, the IEBC’s Kenya Integrated Election Management System (Kiems) would reject the proposer. There was also the unique way the data was to be keyed in the arrangement of the names and the scanned ID photocopies” he said.

By this time, he had already assembled a workforce of four assistants to help him accomplish the task.

Then came the rumours that he was collecting ID cards so as to take them to witch doctor’s who would cast a spell on them so as to vote for him.

“It was openly being said that I would use witchcraft to make as many zombies as possible to vote for me and thereafter leave them in them in the vegetative state for the rest of their lives,” Mr Kibugi narrates.

The major formations in the contest also accused him of being a sellout hiding as an Independent candidate.

“As the election date approached, it had become clear that the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) was more popular in Kigumo constituency. But voters were still telling me that it was the UDA presidential candidate, William Ruto, who was popular and that I would be their next MP, come rain come sunshine,” he said.

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“The UDA parliamentary campaign network went to all corners painting me as an Azimio la Umoja sympathiser who in the cover of darkness was holding meetings with Raila Odinga and his running mate, Martha Karua,” Mr Kibugi recounts.

To make matters worse, his competitors started spreading rumours that he had been given millions of shillings to sell the Azimio agenda in Kigumo.

“The son of humbleness that was, and still is me, became a witch, a con, an Azimio mole and a character who goes brokering the community interests to unpopular formations,” he laments.

On the D-Day, UDA’s Joseph Munyoro emerged the winner against 13 aspirants by garnering 27,213 votes. In second place was PNU’s Zack Kinuthia with 10,543 votes while the then incumbent Ms Wangari Mwaniki finished third with 8,810 votes.

“Yours truly faired miserably with just 1,205 votes. I was beaten hands down even in my own polling station. It is clear that some of my relatives did not vote for me,” Mr Kibugi says.

For this reason he says he has much respects for the candidates who were elected as independent candidates.

“Especially in Mt Kenya, Rift Valley and Luo Nyanza where party waves were uncompromising… I specifically reserve great respects for Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza, who besides being a woman, survived the UDA wave to be elected to office, defeating titans like Kiraitu Murungi and Mithika Linturi,” he said.

His humiliating defeat notwithstanding, Mr Kibugi still habours political ambition, but he has vowed never to run as independent candidate.

“I cannot also advise anyone seeking political office in Kenya to go the independent way,” he says.

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