Former Harambee Stars captain Macdonald Mariga was spotted with Deputy President William Ruto for the first time in nearly a year after losing the Kibra by-elections in November 2019.
On Wednesday, November 11, Ruto shared photos showing him with the footballer-turned-politician at his official residence in Karen, Nairobi.
Alongside them was the DP's newly recruited political strategist Eliud Owalo who ran against Mariga in the 2019 Kibra by-elections on the Amani National Congress (ANC) ticket. He has since decamped to join Ruto's campaign team.
"With football star Mariga and politician Eliud Owalo at Karen residence, Nairobi County," Ruto tweeted on Wednesday, November 11.
Owalo, Mariga and ODM's Imran Okoth contested for the Kibra seat after the former MP Ken Okoth succumbed to cancer. Imran, Ken Okoth's brother, won the seat.
Perceived as a reluctant politician, Mariga's public last appearance with the DP was on December 23, 2019, when he accompanied him to a football tournament in Luanda, Vihiga County.
However, in March 2020, Mariga shared images of donations his family (The Wanyama's) gave to Kibra residents during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"At Kibra where we as a family donated a few water tanks and hand sanitizers. Let’s all follow the government directive of staying at home and washing our hands. We shall overcome all this together," he tweeted.
Ruto chose Mariga to contest for the seat on a Jubilee ticket despite his party having earlier on declined to front an opponent against ODM and its leader Raila Odinga. Several MPs accused te DP of forcing President Uhuru Kenyatta to endorse the former Inter Milan midfielder.
The DP's choice sparked divisions within Jubilee, with a section of the party members opting to campaign and support for ODM's Imran Okoth.
Ruto pulled the same strategy ahead of the Mswambeni, Kwale by-elections slated for December 15, 2020. The DP and his party differed after Jubilee opted against fielding a candidate for the seat - citing ODM's past strong performance in the constituency. Jubilee also affirmed that they were respecting the handshake between Odinga and Kenyatta.
The DP nonetheless launched campaigns for independent candidate Feisal Abdallah Bader who will face off with ODM's Omar Boga.