The fate of Maendeleo Chap Chap party (MCC) candidates who support Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party presidential candidate Raila Odinga remains unknown after some allies of the former premier told them to stop associating with him.
ODM deputy secretary-general and Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua staged the fight against the party led by Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua on Sunday, in a surprise move that may undermine Mr Odinga's concerted efforts to make headway in Kitui, Machakos and Makueni counties, where MCC has fronted many candidates.
“We are saying bye bye to Maendeleo Chap Chap since it has joined hands with the United Democratic Alliance (UDA). MCC candidates should follow the party leader [in supporting Deputy President William Ruto],” Ms Mutua said in Mulala, Makueni County.
This threw a spanner in the works as MCC was rocked by confusion after Dr Mutua cast his lot with Dr Ruto following failed attempts to disengage the party from Mr Odinga’s camp.
As Dr Mutua accompanies Dr Ruto on the campaign trail across the country, the Machakos governor has heightened his vitriol against Mr Odinga, whom he blames for the collapse of the economy.
Dr Mutua’s former chief of staff and a key figure in MCC, Mwengi Mutuse, who is flying the party’s flag in the Kibwezi West MP’s race, is among the party’s candidates who have openly defied him.
Instead, they have been popularising Mr Odinga’s presidential bid as they painstakingly attempt to distance themselves from Dr Mutua’s heightened attacks on the ODM leader.
A month ago, Mr Odinga enlisted Mr Mutuse and Muvuti/Kiimakimwe Ward Representative Caleb Mule, the MCC candidate in the Machakos Town MP’s race, as part of the team to spearhead his presidential campaigns in Ukambani. This has, however, not erased suspicion among some of Mr Odinga’s allies that the two may be working secretly in cahoots with Dr Mutua to advance UDA ideals.
“We do not want anything to do with UDA in this region,” Ms Mutua said on Sunday, echoing John Kiema, a longtime ally of Mr Odinga.
They led a team of Mr Odinga’s local stalwarts in drumming up support for his presidential bid while at the same time campaigning for Seth Kakusye, a close ally of Mr Odinga who is flying the ODM ticket in the Kibwezi West constituency race.
But in a quick rejoinder, Mr Mutuse played down Ms Mutua’s advisory, terming it a “desperate campaign” and cautioning Azimio-affiliated parties against infighting that he said may cost Mr Odinga’s camp seats.
“We discussed infighting among friendly candidates in the Azimio council the other day and candidates [were] cautioned,” he said.