Squabbling Ukambani leaders give Raila terms
Rifts among Ukambani politicians escalated yesterday with three governors calling on Orange leader Raila Odinga to declare whether he will work with them or Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) party leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
The widening rift was apparent when two groups addressed parallel press conferences, one in Nairobi and the other in Machakos.
Speaking in Machakos last evening, Governors Alfred Mutua (Machakos) Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Kitui’s Charity Ngilu asked Raila to state whether he would accommodate his two-time running mate or they chart the way forward for the community.
The governors spoke ahead of Kalonzo’s planned Kamba leaders meeting at his Yatta home on Saturday.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, we respect you so much. But the language we are speaking as three governors is that if you want to work with Wiper, go ahead and we shall organise ourselves in our three parties and chart our destiny,” said a statement read by Machakos County chief of staff Mwengi Mutuse.
“The Kamba community will not be shortchanged again at the hands of selfish negotiators.
‘Nothing for us, without us’, is the message we are sending to Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto,” they said.
Governors Mutua, Kibwana and Ngilu do not see eye-to-eye with Kalonzo who they accuse of dictatorship and a poor development record despite his many years in top government and political positions.
While Kibwana and Mutua have declared their intentions to vie for the presidency, they have been gravitating towards Raila’s Azimio La Umoja movement.
Ngilu is a high-ranking member of Raila’s presidential elections board.
Mutua said the Kamba community was suffering because of people who have been in leadership for decades without a development mind, a thinly veiled reference to Kalonzo.
“That overall, the developmental interests of the community must come first before the personal interests of any leader.
The people want development that rolls back poverty and not merely big positions for a few individuals,” Mutua said.
While taking a swipe at Kalonzo’s planned leaders’ meeting, the governors tasked community elders and religious heads to convene a meeting bringing together the different and even competing political players, at a neutral venue.
“This will enable us to concretise our approach informed by the views of wananchi collected at the grassroots latest by end of February 2022,” said Kibwana.
But speaking in Nairobi, senators allied to Kalonzo said the Wiper leader will not ditch the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) for Azimio La Umoja.
The leaders also said that Kalonzo was not at war with the three governors who are spearheading Azimio interests in the region.
Senators Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni), Kitui’s Enock Wambua and Agnes Kavindu (Machakos) further dismissed claims that their party leader was planning to abandon his presidential bid.
“Kalonzo is our leader and the community will take direction from him, not any other individual or group,” said Kilonzo.
Addressing the press at the party’s headquarters in Karen, the leaders said Kalonzo was firmly in the race to succeed President Kenyatta in the August 9 polls. “The media should not be dragged into rumours and propaganda circulating that Kalonzo is planning to drop his bid in favour of ODM leader Raila Odinga. Treat the rumours as such,” said Kilonzo.
He added: “There are no plans by Kalonzo to support Raila nor join the Azimio La Umoja movement.”
Asked whether the three governors had been invited to the Ukambani leaders’ in Yatta, Mutula said invitations had been sent to the trio and that they were free to attend “just like other leaders.”
Kalonzo’s Saturday meeting is being seen as an attempt to stamp his political authority in the region.
The meeting, according to the senators, will be used to discuss the political direction the region should take in the upcoming polls. Wambua, however, downplayed the perceived impact by the governors, saying that yesterday’s Nairobi meeting was attended by leaders who had more following than the trio.
“Our meeting has brought together all elected leaders from the region, including MPs from both Houses, MCAs and Speakers from the three counties. These are the leaders who have the votes and our word should not be taken for granted,” Wambua said.
The Kamba community, they said, was well known for speaking with one voice on political matters and this year will not be different.
“We urged the community to stay united despite spirited efforts to divide us. This call comes to all members of our community from every corner of the country. We should not allow a few disgruntled elements to divide us,” said the senators.
In Machakos, the county chiefs declared that is was imperative that a representative of South Eastern bloc leads Kenya or the community in a key part of the next national government.