Joseph Wamukoya

Joseph Wamukoya

Dr. Joseph Pius O Wamukoya (born 22 August 1942) is a Kenyan politician, and was, until December 2002 an Assistant Minister in the Kenya African National Union (KANU) government of Daniel arap Moi.

Early life

Wamukoya was born in the Western Province of Kenya. His early education was in Kenya, studying at the local Matua Primary School and later St. Peters Secondary School both of which are in Butere/Mumias District. He then joined the then East Africa Agricultural College currently known as Egerton University where he obtained a diploma in animal health. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in veterinary science at the same institution in 1969. Wamukoya was then employed by the Government as District Veterinary Officer for Machakos, Isiolo and Nanyuki. In 1973, he was promoted to become the Central Provincial Veterinary Officer for six months. Wamukoya then went for further studies at Michigan University in the US to specialise in veterinary medicine. He came back in 1975 and joined the University of Nairobi as a lecturer in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine for five years. Wamukoya was later appointed the Director of Veterinary Services until 1990 when he rejoined University of Nairobi as a senior lecturer.

Political career

He resigned from the University of Nairobi in 1996 after much pressure from the people of Mumias for him to run in the 1997 general elections. Mumias was later to be divided to create the Matungu constituency. He stood as a candidate for election to represent the latter on a KANU ticket. He polled 10,678 against his closest rival, Charles V.O Okwalo's 7, 568 votes. He was sworn in as Member of Parliament for Matungu the following year in January.

Once in National Assembly of Kenya, he was first appointed as an Assistant Minister for Agriculture before he was transferred to the Ministry of Education and later to the Ministry of Information and Tourism. During his five years in the National Assembly, Wamukoya is credited with playing a major role in drafting the sugar bill and championing the rights of sugarcane farmers. Wamukoya is also credited with working hard to have the important Mumias-Busia road tarmacked. This road is a major commercial highway in the western Kenya region. Believing that education should be available for all, he is also credited with launching an education bursary fund for the education of needy and bright children. He also oversaw the largest expansion in schools, both primary and secondary, in his constituency since independence. He also initiated several projects that have largely benefited the lives of Matungu residents. These include support of self-help groups, development of youth empowerment programs and enhancement of provision of medical facilities.

All this success was however not enough to save him from the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) euphoria that swept the country in the 2002 elections. In 2002 he lost his seat to David Were who contested on a NARC ticket. Wamukoya is still active in the politics of Western Kenya and still a force to be reckoned with in Matungu. He left KANU for the Liberal Democratic Party in 2004 and has risen to the level of branch chairman for the Matungu branch. However due to the ever changing landscape of Kenyan politics, Wamukoya has constantly been shifting his party preference as the preferences of his constituents change. In 2005 he briefly joined Orange Democratic Movement (ODM-Kenya) which was then touted to give incumbent Mwai Kibaki a run for his money in the 2007 general election. This was not to last long though. In early 2007 Wamukoya appointed a special team to survey his constituents to find out what their preference was. Based on the results of their survey, which showed that majority of the electorate were pro-government, Wamukoya joined Narc-Kenya, then widely believed to be Mwai Kibaki's Party of choice for re-election. However Matungu politics is constantly evolving and following President Mwai Kibaki's announcement that he will seek re-election of a Party of National Unity (PNU) ticket, the electorate of Matungu has subsequently shifted its allegiance to this new entity. He is expected to contest the Matungu seat on a PNU ticket in the General Elections called for 27 December 2007.

Many analysts on the ground believe that he will regain the Matungu seat, although by a small margin. This is largely because the incumbent has failed to deliver on his 2002 promises and all projects initiated by Wamukoya have stalled ever since. There is huge discontent with the incumbents constant absence from the constituency and lack of time for the people.

2007 elections

The battle lines for the 2007 elections in Matungu are being drawn and the contest could be tough going by the political realignment on the ground. Assistant Minister for Information, Mr David Were, will be defending the seat as he is seeking a second term. Those challenging Mr Were are former MP and assistant minister for Education Dr Joseph Wamukoya, businessman Mr Justace Murunga, former teacher Mr Raphael Welimo, Dr Charles Okumu, former magistrate Mr Francis Kadima and Mr Francis Muka Ometty. Others are Mr Paul Posho, a senior East African Portland Cement manager Mr Ramadhan Mtimba and Ms Auxillia Nyamoma who is so far the only woman in the race.

The constituency is unique in that it is a cosmopolitan area. Apart from the dominant Wanga sub-clan, other smaller clans and people from communities like Bukusu and Luo reside in the area. Clannism could therefore feature in Matungu politics with the dominant Abashitsetse keen to reclaim the seat.

Mr Were is said to be of Luo origin whose parents migrated to the area long ago. Mr Murunga is also said to be from neighbouring Bukusu community in Bungoma. The two may find it difficult if opponents harp on the issue of their paternity. Wamukoya is riding high on this issue as he is likely to be the only candidate from the dominant clan to make it as far as the ballot box. This coupled with is adequate resources and vast knowledge of the constituency are thought to give him an extra edge over his opponents.

However, like in 2002, last minute euphoria for change could sweep the constituents to blindly vote for candidates standing on an ODM ticket.

Politics and the family

Wamukoya's political career has been an interesting one that has livened up the politics in Matungu because most of the time his rivals come from within his own family making the political playing field of Matungu a more interesting one to examine. In 1997 for example he was up against his elder brother, a former General Manager at the Mumias Sugar Company. They both contested for the KANU ticket which Wamukoya easily won. In 2002, it is widely thought that several of Wamukoya's close relatives worked hard in an attempt to sabotage his re-election. However their success is questionable given the overall NARC euphoria that engulfed Kenya during that election.

Personal life

Wamukoya has been married to Mrs. Elizabeth Atieno Wamukoya since 1977. Together they have four children: Marilyn Wamukoya, Christine Wamukoya, Francesca Didi Wamukoya and Joseph Nicholas Wamukoya. The family has homes in both Nairobi and Matungu.

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