Kalonzo under fire for remarks on Taita-Taveta governor seat

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka speaks in Taita Taveta on September 29, 2020.

Photo credit: Lucy Mkanyika | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mr Musyoka, who was addressing residents of Mwatate and Wundanyi towns, said Kambas in the coastal county should instead vie for the positions of deputy governor, National Assemby and Senate members, as well as ward representatives.
  • In a hasty reaction, however, Taita-Taveta-based advocate Bernard Mwinzi, who has already announced his interest in the top seat, termed Mr Musyoka’s remarks reckless.

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka has been heavily criticised for his remarks that aspirants of Kamba descent should leave the Taita-Taveta governorship to the Taita and Taveta communities.

Mr Musyoka, who was addressing residents of Mwatate and Wundanyi towns, said Kambas in the coastal county should instead vie for the positions of deputy governor, National Assembly and Senate members, as well as ward representatives.

"I will not allow a Kamba to vie for the gubernatorial seat in Taita-Taveta. No. It is impossible. You must show respect and be thankful for the positions you are offered," he said.

"You cannot come from Kitui, Machakos or Makueni and want to lead here yet you know the locals are Taitas and Tavetas," he said.

In a hasty reaction, however, Taita-Taveta-based advocate Bernard Mwinzi, who has already announced his interest in the top seat, termed Mr Musyoka’s remarks reckless.

Mr Mwinzi, who is a resident of Taveta sub-county, further said the Wiper chief’s statement was offensive.

"The remarks pose a risk to the unity fabric of this county," Mr Mwinzi said.

The advocate said the residents of the county have a right to choose whoever they want in the 2022 General Election, noting that he has a right to vie for any seat, as the law allows him to do so.

"The people of Taita-Taveta know what they want. It is not Mr Kalonzo who asked me to vie for this seat so he will not tell me to put aside my ambition. I never consulted him and he never consulted me on anything," the aspirant said.

Mr Mwizi dismissed the argument that Mr Kalonzo’s advice was meant to foster unity.

"You should welcome them (Akamba) for them to feel as citizens of this country. However, they should leave the top seat to the natives," Mr Kalonzo told Mwatate residents.

"Telling Kambas not to vie here does not mean I hate them. The reality is we need equality and peace," Mr Musyoka said.

The Wiper party’s leader’s call was also opposed by other Kamba leaders in the Coast region, led by Thome wa Akamba association.

The association’s secretary, Mr Josphat Wambua, condemned Mr Musyoka’s words, saying Kambas in Taita-Taveta County are also residents and deserve to be treated as such.

"We are Taita-Taveta residents and also Kenyans. The law allows us to live anywhere in this country," Mr Wambua argued.

When he made the remarks, Mr Kalonzo was accompanied by party officials who were hosted by deputy governor Majala Mlaghui and Wundanyi MP Danson Mwashako.

Governor Granton Samboja, who was elected on a Wiper ticket in 2017, skipped his party leader's visit.

Mr Samboja’s decision to skip the event, which was part of Wiper party’s renewed campaigns ahead of the 2022 elections, further raised speculation that his allegiance might have shifted from his party.

This was the second time the governor snubbed a Wiper party event, prompting speculation that he could be headed to ODM.

The governor was said to have been headed for the Raila Odinga-led party after he hosted the former Prime Minister a fortnight ago.

Mr Odinga was on a two-day tour of the region during which he inspected various projects and met party delegates.

Mr Musyoka, however, dispelled this speculation somewhat while addressing Mwatate Residents: “I bring apologies from Governor Samboja. He told me he would have wanted to be here but he is not feeling well."

lmkanyika@ke.nationmedia.com