, MAKUENI, Kenya, Oct 17 – In a race reminiscent of the March General Election, Patrick Musimba clinched a narrow victory to retain the Kibwezi West Parliamentary seat with 17,103 votes.
The independent candidate retained the seat with a margin of 175 votes over his closest competitor Richard Kalembe Ndile of The Independent Party (TIP) who garnered 16,928 votes.
Juliana Kisimbi of PICK, made a poor showing only managing to clinch 148 votes translating to 0.4 percent of the 62.56 percent of the 54,811 voters registered in Kibwezi West who turned up to vote.
While Musimba welcomed the win, Ndile blamed his loss on what he said was Musimba’s ability to buy votes.
He was however non-committal whether or not he will take his grievances to the courts again.
Thursday’s by-election was as a result of a petition filed by Ndile following a previous loss to Musimba in the March 4 General Election.
Although Ndile wanted to be declared the outright winner by the High Court on the strength of a recount that put him ahead of Musimba with 21 votes, Justice David Majanja was unable to do so on account of Musimba’s testimony that there were 409 missing ballots that would have put him over the top.
It is the third time Ndile has lost out in the Kibwezi seat having first done so in 2007 when his support of President Mwai Kibaki – as an opposition wave took hold of the Ukambani region – cost him a second term in Parliament.
He again narrowly missed out on the newly demarcated Kibwezi West seat in the last General Election losing by 199 votes to Musimba’s 17,174.
The campaigns that led to Thursday’s by-election were also heatedly close with accusations and counter accusations of voter bribery that culminated in a violent confrontation on Monday as both candidates’ supporters fought over a rally ground in Makindu.