Inside Politics

Ruto to tour Western region amid disquiet among leaders

Thursday, August 24th, 2023 00:45 | By
President William Ruto in a past event
President William Ruto in a past event. PHOTO/Courtesy

President William Ruto will be making another tour of the Western region amid political cracks amongst local leaders allied to Kenya Kwanza.

A section of leaders from the region, especially Kakamega county, are increasingly growing restless due to failure by the current government to fulfil its promises to residents.

Others are engaged in superiority fights around Prime Cabinet Secretary Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi and Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Masika Wetang’ula.

The President will visit the region from Saturday at a time when cane farmers are up in arms over a four-month closure of sugar millers that has had a negative impact on their livelihoods.

There is growing resentment and impatience in the region over the President’s pledge of 30 per cent employment and development opportunities courtesy of his alliance with Mudavadi through the Amani National Congress (ANC) and Wetang’ula through Ford-Kenya parties.

Political kingpin

Mudavadi has since relinquished his leadership of ANC following his appointment as PCS.

Wetang’ula has, on the other hand, been very visible in the region leading MPs and other leaders in fundraisers that are whispered to be designed to undermine Mudavadi.

The latest was a fundraiser in Ikolomani constituency a week ago where several MPs, allied mainly to Azimio La Umoja Coalition, endorsed Wetangula as the Luhya political kingpin.

“There are concerns that Hon Mudavadi is not active or visible in his home-turf the way, for instance, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is, in his Mount Kenya region,” said Desterio Okumu, a political commentator from Kakamega.

“This has led to doubts over whether he will push for any development agenda in the Western region the way they promised in the run-up to the 2022 elections. These doubts are giving birth to resentment,” he added.

Fred Wesonga, another commentator, pointed out that the seeming lack of commitment from the government to revive Mumias Sugar Company, for instance, has become a hot potato in Kakamega.

“The President promised to oversee the full revival of Mumias Sugar Company in the first 100 days but little has been achieved a year later. To make matters worse, the factory is currently under lock and key. These are some of the issues that the President will have to confront during his visit,” he added.

Airstrip expansion

Other promises include the expansion of the Kakamega Airstrip to an international airport, tarmacking of the Murhanda-Shinyalu-Chepsonoi road, completion of the construction of Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega town, a gold refinery at Iguhu in Ikolomani constituency, support for Masinde Muliro University and Kakamega Referral Hospital.

During his last visit, the President promised an immediate release of Sh50 million towards construction of an apron at the Kakamega Airstrip but nothing was so far happening at the facility in Shinyalu constituency as at yesterday, many months later.

Wesonga also said Kakamega people feel marginalized because they lack a full Cabinet Secretary position yet they were the majority in the region, and regarded as the hotbed of Western politics.

“Former Senator Cleophas Malalah and Harriet Chiggai attend cabinet meetings in their capacities as UDA Secretary-General and Gender Affairs Advisor respectively, but have no portfolios,” said Martin Andati, another political analyst.

Malalah has worsened the situation due to his efforts to overlook ANC and Ford-K in the region.

The former senator has been rattling the local political scene as he disregards Mudavadi and Wetang’ula who are perceived as the senior-most Luhya leaders.

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