What you need to know:
- Governor Wangamati says endless woes with Mr Wetang’ula have undermined his performance.
- He says MCAs allied to the Ford Kenya leader have sabotaged him and disturbed his peace.
- The embattled governor broke ranks with the Bungoma senator in 2020 after a botched coup in Ford Kenya.
Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati has now reached out to Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetang’ula, asking him to consider burying the hatchet over their past differences as the 2022 General Election draws nearer.
Mr Wangamati says being in the bad books of the Bungoma senator has cost him a lot in his first term as governor.
He said his endless woes with Mr Wetang’ula undermined his performance. Many development projects, including the county scholarship programme, he said, had suffered because of their frosty relations.
Even though Mr Wetang’ula was instrumental in Mr Wangamati’s election in the 2017 under Ford Kenya, the two do not see eye to eye.
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“Senator Wetang’ula should stop his differences with me as we come from the same constituency,” he beseeched, saying he has had a rough time in office due to their frosty relations.
Genesis of the fallout
The embattled governor broke ranks with the Bungoma senator in 2020 after a botched coup in Ford Kenya.
The coup was orchestrated by Mr Wangamati alongside Mr Wetangula's long-time allies – Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi and his Tongaren counterpart Dr Eseli Simiyu.
The trio had accused Mr Wetang’ula of running Ford Kenya like his personal kiosk.
"I am right at the centre of ensuring that we oust Mr Wetang’ula from the helm of this party since he has proved that he is incapable of running the party affairs," Mr Wangamati had claimed then.
The three then joined Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K), associated with Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, after the failed coup.
Mr Wetang’ula now supports his former rival, Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, in his bid to recapture the Bungoma governor’s seat under Ford Kenya after the latter decamped from the Jubilee Party.
'Sabotaged and disturbed'
But as they say, politics has no permanent enemies nor friends.
Mr Wangamati appears to be keen on mending fences with Mr Wetangula, perhaps after reading the political mood on the ground regarding the August elections.
He says he is seeking Mr Wetangula’s forgiveness for the sake of peace in the county, and so that they can work together.
“Opponents have never allowed me to work for Bungoma people. Every day, every week, every month they say something to taint my name,” he said.
Speaking at Nalondo Stadium in Kabuchai constituency on Wednesday during Madaraka Day celebrations, he said that members of the Bungoma County Assembly allied to Mr Wetang’ula have sabotaged and disturbed his peace throughout the five-year term.
“Since I took office, I have had over 60 cases in courts, with people trying to stop every development project I initiate. But I want to tell them that even if they taint my name I am prepared to compete with them in the August polls,” Mr Wangamati said.
He urged Mr Wetang’ula to emulate President Uhuru Kenyatta's forgiving heart, referring to the President’s disputes with the late President Mwai Kibaki that they later settled and were able to work together again.
He defended the county scholarship programme that has been a subject of controversy, with MCAs claiming he had awarded more money to beneficiaries than the budget could allow.
“If there is something Bungoma people won’t forget about me, it is the Wangamati scholarship that has seen bright but needy students get an education,” the governor said.
Prepared for Lusaka
But he said he is ready to face off with Mr Lusaka.
“Just back my re-election and you will see what I will do for you. This is where I come from. I was raised in this constituency and my people support my bid,” Mr Wangamati told Kabuchai residents.
Three aspirants want the hotly contested governor’s seat – Mr Wangamati (DAP-K), Mr Lusaka (Ford Kenya) and Mr Zack Barasa (FPK). Ms Sophie Waliaula and Mr Peter Khakina shelved their bids.
The aspirants are yet to be cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.