By Kitavi Mutua and James Wanga
With seven months to go to the General Election, Ukambani politics has hit top gear, with the region increasingly looking at its political kingpin Kalonzo Musyoka for direction in the wake of a concerted Jubilee Party onslaught.
Any move the leader of the Wiper Democratic Movement makes after the ongoing negotiations with other opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula over who becomes the opposition’s presidential candidate has the potential of reinforcing his grip in the region or weaken it.
Against this backdrop, the question being asked is whether Mr Musyoka is providing leadership or confusion in Ukambani. He has shocked Wiper bigwigs who had assumed that the party’s gubernatorial tickets were theirs by virtue of party seniority.
A fortnight ago, he caused a storm at Kwa Vonza, Kitui County, when he suggested Wiper National Chairman David Musila and Kitui Governor Julius Malombe defend their seats to avoid unnecessary conflicts. Mr Musila has consistently indicated that he will challenge Mr Malombe for the governor’s seat.
Mr Musila hit the roof, accusing his party boss of shielding Dr Malombe from competition and skipped Mr Musyoka’s subsequent rallies in Ukambani to mobilise residents to register as voters.
Mr Musyoka was probably sparing the party from the internal bruises of a Musila-Malombe clash which would boost the fortunes of former Lands Minister Charity Ngilu, who is said to be eyeing the seat on a Narc ticket.
A crack in Wiper is a blessing to Jubilee, which has vowed to field candidates for all positions in all counties, a strategy Mr Musyoka believes can only be countered by avoiding intra-Wiper divisions.
To end suspicions, Mr Musyoka this week cautioned Wiper aspirants against invoking his name as they campaign to secure tickets. He maintained he had not endorsed any candidate for any seat in the next polls.
“I did not endorse anyone and I will not take sides because the candidates seeking the party’s ticket are all my supporters. Let the people decide in a free and fair nomination,” he said.
Kitui Rural MP Charles Nyamai welcomed the assurances by the party leader, saying it will let the will of the people prevail at the primaries.
Last year, the Wiper party lost six of its elected MPs John Munuve (Mwingi North), Joe Mutambu (Mwingi Central), Richard Makenga (Kaiti), Regina Ndambuki (Kilome) and Kisoi Munyao (Mbooni) to Jubilee. Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua has also decamped from the party.
Mr Mutambu said the defectors cited frustrations by the party leadership and fear that nominations may not be fair.
Indeed, Mr Musyoka is on record as saying that he cannot afford to take sides in the party nominations. He, however, complained in an interview that Mr Musila had put him in an awkward position.
“I am tired of people invoking my name to advance their political interests, I never endorsed Governor Malombe or implored Senator David Musila to drop his gubernatorial bid, and whoever is making such claims is putting words in my mouth,” he told the Nation.
But there is no evidence that the storm has dissipated. Mr Musila is on record as claiming that Mr Musyoka had pressured him to quit the race for the governor’s seat, but he had flatly refused.
In Makueni, Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr is complaining that Mr Musyoka seems to be at ease with Governor Kivutha Kibwana’s Muungano candidacy at the expense of Wiper.
Mr Musyoka has, however, made it clear that he cannot support the governor on a Muungano ticket, advising him to defect to Wiper.
Also there are claims that Mr Musyoka has not showed any enthusiasm in real estate magnate David Masika, who is eyeing the Makueni governor’s seat on a Wiper ticket. Sources indicate that Senator Kilonzo Jnr equally has his eyes trained on the governor’s seat in what further complicates matters for Mr Musyoka.
Two months ago, Mr Masika tellingly failed to address crowds during Mr Musyoka’s roadshows in Makueni and Taveta. This, despite impeccable sources saying Mr Masika had significantly bankrolled the tour after Muthama allegedly approached him to do so. During the same tour, Mr Musyoka accused Senator Muthama of working behind his back to undermine his presidential ambition.
via Nation media