Boost for Malala as Kutima backs his governor bid

Cleophas Malala

Kakamega senator Cleophas Malala (centre) at a past event. He has expressed fear that zoning will cost DP Ruto votes in the region.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala has received a major boost in his chase for the governor’s seat after Deputy Governor Philip Kutima joined the Kenya Kwanza alliance and promised to back his bid in the August 9 polls.

Prof Kutima has served as Governor Wycliffe Oparanya’s deputy since 2013.The deputy governor becomes the second leader to drop his bid in favour of Mr Malala after former Senator Boni Khalwale.

On March 23, Mr Khalwale, through the intervention of Deputy President William Ruto, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and other Kenya Kwanza leaders, dropped his governorship bid in favour of Senator Malala.

Prof Kutima wanted to succeed Mr Oparanya, who is serving his second and last term, but his ambitions were undermined by a series of frustrations from some political players.

In August, Prof Kutima was removed as Kakamega County ODM party chairman and replaced by Shinyalu MP Justus Kizito Mugali.

Prof Kutima had been loyal to Mr Oparanya for about 10 years and had banked on his support to capture the governor’s seat.

He was to face off with former Ketraco managing director Fernandes Barasa and Mr Kizito in the ODM nominations.

But Mr Oparanya chose to support Mr Barasa, who ended up being handed a direct nomination certificate by ODM, forcing Prof Kutima and Mr Kizito to ditch the Orange party for DAP-Kenya on March 8.

Prof Kutima accused his boss of dishonesty, claiming Mr Oparanya had repeatedly announced his intention to back Kutima’s bid but ended up supporting Mr Barasa.

On March 18, Prof Kutima dropped his bid to succeed his boss and declared his support for Lugari MP Ayub Savula’s bid for the seat.

DAP-K mistrust

But a war of words erupted in DAP-Kenya after Prof Kutima claimed Mr Savula was seeking a direct nomination through the back door. He accused the lawmaker of being an ODM mole in DAP-Kenya.

Mr Savula dismissed the allegations, claiming he was the first leader from Kakamega to join DAP-Kenya and that Prof Kutima had joined to weaken the strength of the party in Kakamega.

He dismissed Prof Kutima as a nobody in Kakamega politics, describing him as a person who could not win even a ward representative seat.On April 27, Prof Kutima joined DP Ruto’s camp and promised to support Mr Malala for the governor’s seat.

The DP wrote on Twitter: “Join us in welcoming Kakamega Deputy Governor Prof Philip Kutima to Kenya Kwanza from Azimio Alliance. Your support for Senator Cleophas Malala’s gubernatorial bid is a huge boost. We are grateful.

”Before his departure to the US recently, Governor Oparanya handed the deputy governor’s mandate to the county secretary in an internal memo to staff, sidelining Prof Kutima.

Mr Oparanya said he would be away from his office for a week and relinquished his role to Public Service executive Rachel Okumu before accompanying ODM leader Raila Odinga on his trip to the US.

Reports from the governor’s office indicated that Prof Kutima has not been reporting to duty and has skipped cabinet meetings for several months without explanation though he was earning his monthly salary.