Wetangula plotting to end political careers of former party rebels

Eseli Simiyu

Tongaren Member of Parliament Dr Eseli Simiyu during a past function in the constituency.

Photo credit: Brian Ojamaa | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • While DAP-K has settled on Governor Wycliffe Wangamati for the Bungoma seat, Ford Kenya is fronting Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.
  • In Tongaren, Mr Wetangula has fielded Mr John Chikati Murumba to run against Dr Eseli who is serving his third term as a legislature.

With less than two months to the August polls, Ford Kenya party leader Mr Moses Wetangula seems to be on a political revenge mission against his long-term allies-turned-foes who two years ago attempted to unseat him at the helm of the party.

In May 2020, a Ford Kenya faction, led by Tongaren MP Dr Eseli Simiyu, Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi and Bungoma governor Wycliffe Wangamati, met at Radisson Blue Hotel in Nairobi to plot a coup within the party that would have seen Mr Wetang'ula topped on grounds of gross misconduct.

In the meeting, Mr Wamunyinyi was fronted as the prospective party leader on an interim basis. The move came as a surprise to Wetang'ula, given that the three leaders had been his long-term political friends.

After a protracted court battle, the trio aborted their mission and broke away to form the Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K) that is linked to Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.

The Bungoma senator has since vowed to teach the renegades a political lesson.

Mr Wetangula holds sway in Bungoma and many political leaders in the county, including current governor Mr Wangamati, have often rode on his goodwill and support for election victory.

However, the 'coup plotters' have since taken refuge under the Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya Coalition where they have won the favour of the coalition’s presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

On his part, Mr Wetangula has joined the Kenya Kwanza Alliance brigade where he has rejuvenated himself and his party. Ford Kenya and DAP-K party are now locked in a fierce battle for the control of Bungoma County.

The DAP-K team has also been banking on the support of CS Wamalwa who also doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Mr Wetangula. The latter has promised to completely lock out DAP-K candidates in Bungoma.

“When you see them here with that party just know they are ODM-B, so you must reject them,” Wetang'ula has repeatedly urged voters in the county.

While DAP-K has settled on Governor Wycliffe Wangamati for the Bungoma seat, Ford Kenya is fronting Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.

Mr Wetangula plans to ensure Mr Lusaka sends Mr Wangamati home.

"This Mr Wangamati was a political novice whom I and Ford Kenya family carried as a baby and ensured he became the governor, only for him to turn against us when we questioned the expenditure of billions of shillings that come to the county for development," Mr Wetangula told the Daily Nation.

Wetang'ula also enjoys the support of several MPs aligned to UDA in the region, including Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West) and Mwambu Mabonga (Bumula). 

In Kanduyi, Wetang'ula has picked renowned Bungoma-based lawyer John Makali to face off with Mr Wamunyinyi.

Mr Makali, a former Bungoma County Assembly Speaker, vied for the seat in 2017 under ODM ticket but narrowly lost to Wamunyinyi.

Mr Makali has described himself as the solution to Mr Wamunyinyi who betrayed his political father Mr Wetangula.

In Tongaren, Mr Wetangula has fielded Mr John Chikati Murumba, a one-time secretary for strategy and delivery unity in Deputy President William Ruto’s office, to run against Dr Eseli, who is serving his third term as a legislature.

Mr Chikati, who hails from the Tachoni community, has been instrumental in drumming up support for Dr Ruto in Bungoma and Western region at large.

Mr Chikati, who unsuccessfully ran for the Tongaren seat in the last two general elections, now says he is going to send Dr Eseli packing come August.

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