Njenga did more than that, it appears. An independent election observer told me that, on the day of voting, Njenga's agents paid people to vote for him multiple times. They also engaged in blatant ballot-stuffing and employed armed thugs to intimidate voters. (This is fairly standard practice during balloting in the slums, according to other candidates I spoke with.) Police who appeared to be acting on Njenga's orders closed the polling station early, the observer said, preventing other people from casting votes. An election monitor hired by Kariuki told me that Njenga attempted to pay him to leave Kariuki's employ and work for Njenga. "I told him I'm not for money, I'm for good leaderships," he said. When the monitor went to report what was happening to Kariuki, the police threatened his life, he said, and forced him to sign the final vote tally at gunpoint.
According to both Kariuki and Njenga, Njenga had the support of The National Alliance officials. Kariuki claims Njenga paid them off to help secure the nomination. According to other candidates, this too is standard practice. A man running for office in Kibera told me the parties "consistently, repeatedly bastardize" voting laws passed after the 2007-2008 episode. (When I questioned The National Alliance officials, they claimed to be unfamiliar with the details of Njenga's race.) Kariuki wrote a letter of complaint to the party, but no one responded. Njenga admitted to me that he pays people to vote for him, but denied that he paid thugs or the police or party officials to help him win. In fact, he said, it is Kariuki who works with criminals and was responsible for the problems at the polling station. "He's the leader of the young criminals in Mabatini," Njenga told me. This wasn't entirely unsubstantiated. According to some Mathare residents I spoke with, Kariuki does have ties to the Mungiki. It's widely believed that to win office in the Kikuyu half of Mathare, candidates must. Kariuki denies any connection.
* * *
For all its problems, the Kenyan electoral system does have one remarkably equitable feature: Because there are so many registered parties, if a candidate fails to win a nomination with one, he can always jump to another. So Kariuki has left The National Alliance and is now running for the county representative with the Saba Saba-Asili party. He's printed new posters -- he's smiling in these -- and come up with a new slogan: "The Hope of Mabatini." When I saw him last, he was making the rounds on Mau Mau Road, shaking hands and giving hugs. He stopped to speak with a group of young men who'd hung their own banner outside a shop. It wasn't a political advertisement, but instead simply read: "Mathare for Peace." They were asking passersby to sign it. "I saw a lot of killings," during the last election, one of the men told me. "I want change."
When I asked him what he plans to do if he wins the general election this Monday, Njegna said he would open a new hospital and build a new school in Mabatini. I pointed out that cutting down on the amount of chang'aa he sells might address some of the residents' health problems. "Chang'aa is not the issue," he said, eyeing me sternly. "The issue is idleness. If you have education, if you have a job, you don't go to chang'aa." When I asked what he would do about violence and crime, he said "I'll use money to try to teach people about violence. We don't need the violence." He'll also get the police to lock up Kariuki, he added. When I pointed out that this could be troublesome, given how popular Kariuki is, Njenga said flatly, "I'm more popular. The people, they know I'm the Mike Sonko of Mathare."