As political temperatures heighten in Ukambani, the raging debate is whether Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka will stay in Cord for the long haul, or whether he will bolt and join the Jubilee coalition as demanded by a section of his MPs.
People are also watching keenly how Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, reportedly the Jubilee right hand man in the region, will play his cards to galvanise and deliver the Kamba vote to the Jubilee coalition.
The recent declaration by ODM leader Raila Odinga that the MoU he had with Kalonzo had been frustrated by circumstances and thus was no longer tenable, has caused jitters in the Wiper party, with some leaders saying it is time Kalonzo reconsidered his position in the coalition.
Addressing the press in Nairobi on May 3, MPs Joe Mutambu (Mwingi Central), Kisoi Munyao (Mbooni) and Richard Makenga (Kaiti), claimed Wiper had been treated as a flower girl in Cord.
“I’m telling my friend and party leader Kalonzo that his time in Cord is over. Baba akisema amesema na hatakuachia. Njoo tutafute njia ingine (Raila has made up his mind and will not support you. Let’s exploit other opportunities),” said Mutambu as Munyao added: “We will not sit down and continue watching ourselves being humiliated by ODM.”
However, strong Kalonzo backers have dismissed the three as a clueless band of rookie politicians with no grasp of political issues and whose statement should be treated contemptuously.
“Hons Mutambu, Kisoi and Makenga have no authority to speak on behalf of Wiper. The National Executive Council (NEC) will issue a statement on the party position if necessary,” said Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, the party deputy chairman.
Kitui Central MP, Dr Makali Mulu, said it would be political suicide for Kalonzo to join Jubilee, noting that his future to ascend to the presidency was in Cord.
“If Kalonzo is the Cord’s flag-bearer, we will take this thing (presidency) in the morning. It has nothing to do with MoUs or whatever. It has everything to do with the reality on the ground and the existing political environment,” Dr Mulu told The Nairobian, saying Kalonzo was the most serious contender for the presidency in 2017.
The MP said the Jubilee coalition was running scared after realising Kalonzo was their strongest competitor, thus using machinations and people like Governor Mutua to destabilise his home turf and portray him as weak.
Dr Mulu noted that Wiper support in Ukambani was intact, adding that Governor Mutua was a political novice and his Maendeleo Chap Chap movement was no match for Wiper.
“You know, comparing Kalonzo and Mutua is like saying an aircraft high up in the skies will collide with a vehicle on the ground. It’s practically impossible. They are not in the same league,” Dr Mulu scoffed.
He said that if Jubilee banks on Mutua to deliver the Kamba vote, they will be in for a rude shock as the governor cannot deliver a quarter of the Machakos vote.
The MP said all indications were that Kalonzo would stay in Cord as that would offer him a good platform to win the presidency. “If Kalonzo joins Jubilee now, it means he has sealed his chances of becoming president. I don’t think he is willing to do that,” Makali added.
Having noted Kalonzo’s unwillingness to join them, it is said Jubilee has decided to bypass the Wiper leader and reach out directly to the electorate and some of their accommodating leaders. Part of the plan is also to use Governor Mutua to lead a team of rebellious Wiper MPs to deliver the Kamba vote.
The recent visit to State House in which Mutua reportedly led 11 MPs and about 7000 ‘professionals’ from the region to discuss Ukambani development issues, is said to be part of the road map for the ruling coalition to gain a foothold in Ukambani.
A day after the State House visit however, a bitter disagreement emerged in Mutua’s camp, with Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu accusing the governor of hijacking the meeting for selfish motives.
“We feel disrespected. We feel belittled (by Mutua). (Governor) Mutua was not part of the planning committee,” Mutambu, lamented during a TV interview.
According to reliable sources, Mutambu was the leader of the State House delegation until the last minute when Mutua got wind of it while almost on his way out of the country. It is said Governor Mutua hurriedly cancelled his trip to South Africa and headed straight to State House to join the party.
Sources said that in about 30 minutes, Mutua managed to dislodge Mutambu as the team leader and also sneaked his Maendeleo Chap Chap campaign into the programme. That left a sour taste in the MP’s mouth.
But Governor Mutua’s head of communications, Mutinda Mwanzia, rubbished Mutambu’s assertions, claiming President Uhuru Kenyatta called the governor and requested him to be part of the delegation.
“As the most senior politician present, Governor Mutua was obviously expected to be the leader of the delegation. Mutambu is being dishonest and only wanted to advance his political agenda by purporting he was the team leader. He is playing the usual politics of brokerage. The era of political power brokers in Ukambani whose desire is to serve personal ambitions, is coming to an end,” Mwanzia stated.