Ruto whips his Kakamega troops into line after days of wrangling

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

Kenya Kwanza leaders in Kakamega County have reaffirmed their support for their coalition’s presidential candidate William Ruto amid sibling rivalry between UDA and ANC.

This follows reports that they had been reprimanded by the DP for incessant squabbling.

Three of the leaders spearheading Dr Ruto's campaigns in the region – Boni Khalwale, Cleophas Malala and Benjamin Washiali, who are embroiled in inter-party rivalry pitting ANC against UDA – said they have an agreement to fulfill.

Their unity pledge comes as Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki has confirmed reports that ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang'ula must deliver 70 per cent of the Luhya vote if they are to get 30 per cent of Dr Ruto's government slots if he wins.

Mr Malala is the Kenya Kwanza gubernatorial candidate, while Mr Khalwale is the coalition’s Senate candidate.

Mr Washiali is coordinating DP Ruto campaigns in the Western region.

The politicians said their support for DP Ruto’s presidential bid remains unconditional because they believe in the same ideologies.

"Our agreement with William Ruto (UDA leader), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Ford Kenya's Moses Wetang’ula to work together despite our political party differences was to ensure Ruto wins in the coming presidential elections to become the fifth President after Uhuru Kenyatta. This is binding us and we must fulfill it," said Mr Khalwale.

Mr Malala said the fielding of parliamentary candidates has not been an issue for them because their major focus was on Kenya Kwanza forming the next government so that they can revive the economy that is frustrating Kenyans with rising prices of common commodities.

"We came together as UDA, ANC and Ford Kenya in order to support Dr Ruto and exploit the common ideologies we have for the good of the common Kenyans who are suffering under economic hardship," said Mr Malala.

Mr Malala had been at loggerheads with Mr Khalwale and Mr Washiali on whether they should support parliamentary candidates from their parties.

ANC vs UDA

Mr Washiali, who ended his bid for the Mumias East parliamentary seat to coordinate DP Ruto’s campaigns in the region, endorsed Benson Mapwoni as his potential successor on a UDA ticket.

He is campaigning for his candidate and has vowed to hold his hand to the ballot.

Mr Khalwale also has a soft heart for UDA candidates against those from ANC and Ford Kenya, even though he needs votes from supporters of all the political parties to clinch the seat he held from 2013 to 2017.

Mr Washiali and Mr Khalwale have threatened to withdraw their support for Mr Malala’s governor bid if he campaigns for the ANC candidate in the constituency.

There have been confrontations between supporters of UDA’s Benson Mapwoni and those of ANC’s David Wamatsi in Mumias East constituency, threatening the unity of Kenya Kwanza in the area.

Mr Wamatsi has urged his supporters to remain steadfast.

“You should be ready to shift your support from Ruto to Azimio’s Raila Odinga should they continue frustrating us. We are not lesser partners in Kenya Kwanza and we need to respect each other if our pact has to work,” he said.

He asked Mr Washiali and Mr Khalwale to remain neutral in the Mumias East parliamentary race and stop campaigning for his rival, Mr Mapwoni.

“If they continue fighting Mr Malala because he has declared [he will] campaign for me as an ANC candidate, I will mobilise my supporters and rally behind Mr Odinga in Azimio. Why is it that they don’t want Malala to back my bid when they are campaigning for my rival in their UDA docket?” he said.

Mr Khalwale urged members of the Kenya Kwanza coalition to continue supporting its presidential candidate, Dr Ruto, assuring them that the differences between ANC and UDA were normal.

“Even in Azimio, we have seen DAP-Kenya and ODM tussle over slots in Western region. This is a normal game in politics,” said Mr Khalwale.

“The tussles should not overshadow other important interests because we have a power-sharing pact that will benefit the community.”

Ms Everline Awori, ANC secretary-general in Mumias East, said leaders seeking top seats in the county should allow parliamentary and ward aspirants to compete against each other without interference.

“Mr Washiali, who is eyeing a Cabinet slot in the Ruto government, and Malala and Khalwale, who are vying for the governor and senator positions … should concentrate on their positions and stop interfering with the campaigns of MPs and MCAs,” Ms Awori said.

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