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‘Gaucho’ locked out as Bungle la Mwananchi heads to the polls

Bunge la Mwananchi, a prominent social justice movement, is preparing for its elections on December 7, 2023, even as internal disputes persist.

The announcement comes on the heels of the official launch of voter registration by Election Chairman Robert Kiberenge at Jivanjee Gardens in Nairobi.

“We are here today to mark another significant milestone in the history of Bunge la Mwananchi. The launch of the voter registration exercise is a crucial step in the traditions of our movement. This election, scheduled for December 7, 2023, is poised to be a cornerstone, much like our movement in the ’90s,” Mr Kiberenge stated.

However, these preparations come at a time when the movement is grappling with internal power struggles, with each faction striving to assert its influence.

In a recent interview with Nairobi News, Bunge la Mwananchi President Calvince Okoth, popularly known as Gaucho, declared his intent to continue serving as the president until the next election in 2025.

He cited an ‘endorsement’ allowing him to extend his tenure.

“Elections were initially slated for August 2023, which implies that there will be no election until 2025.

Therefore, I remain the president of Bunge la Mwananchi,” Gaucho told Nairobi News early this month.

Gaucho was responding to a statement made by Patrick Githinji, also known as Kamotho, and Asenabi Moha, who expressed their intentions to vie for the presidency.

Moreover, a separate group led by Nuru Okang’o indicates division within the movement.

Addressing concerns about political affiliations, Mr Kiberenge emphasized the movement’s independence and outlined that its constitution provides for the impeachment of any leader who aligns with a political side.

“Our movement is independent and is not aligned with either the government or the opposition. Our goal is to hold both sides accountable.”

Mr Kiberenge explained that the rescheduling of the elections from August to December was due to anti-government protests.

“In 2017, we postponed our elections to December because of political disputes between Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga and President William Ruto. This illustrates that our constitution allows for election date changes under unavoidable circumstances, such as protests,” he added.

Bunge la Wananchi was started as a social movement in the early 1990s during the one-party state with intent to keep the ruling government in check.

In the early years, the president would be in charge for several years before a new leader was chosen.

But things changed with an agreement that the tenure be shortened to two years.

Bunge la Wananchi has membership in 26 counties.

Jeevanjee Gardens is the headquarters of the movement.

The movement elects its president after every two years.

The election of the president, the deputy, the speaker, and the Woman representative is always done at the headquarters.

During the elections, each county sends four delegates to the headquarters to vote on behalf of the members.

After members have cast their votes in the secret ballot paper, the votes are counted, and the winners, after two weeks, are sworn in.

Bunge la Wananchi has active members from Mombasa, Kakamega, Busia, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Siaya, Meru, Embu, Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos, Makueni, Kilifi, Turkana, Baringo, Bungoma, Eldoret, Nakuru, Kisii counties.

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