What you need to know:
- Mr Wanjigi is a former ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who then fell out with the Jubilee government.
- He supported ODM leader Raila Odinga’s presidential candidacy in 2017 the General Election.
Had embattled businessman Jimmy Wanjigi kept off Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s weekend meeting at his Yatta farm, he would not have faced the dramatic and forceful arrest that he endured earlier this week.
That is according to his new-found political allies, majority of who are members of Mr Musyoka’s Wiper party.
“Truth be said, if he (Mr Wanjigi) did not come to Yatta, he would not have been arrested. There is no case there at all, it is all politics,” said Mr Makueni MP Dan Maanzo in an interview.
Mr Wanjigi is a former ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who then fell out with the Jubilee government and supported Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga’s presidential candidacy in 2017 the General Election.
Mr Odinga closed ranks with President Kenyatta in the famous 2018 political handshake, which left Mr Wanjigi in the political cold.
The Wiper party is now welcoming him to its fold, and is even dangling the Musyoka presidential running mate carrot.
The beleaguered businessman has been a passionate member of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), on whose ticket he still swears he will run for president of Kenya in the August 9 polls, but where he faces the hurdle of beating his erstwhile ally and the political veteran Mr Odinga.
“We welcome him with open arms,” said the National Assembly deputy minority leader, Robert Mbui, who is a staunch political ally of former vice president Mr Musyoka.
Mr Mbui argues that the publicity Mr Wanjigi has received from his dramatic arrest has made him a sort of a political martyr, who also has the added advantage of coming with deep pockets to the Wiper party.
“He is also an astute negotiator. Why would we not want such a person on our side? He might just help us to break the stalemate we currently have with ANC (Amani National Congress) on the OKA (One Kenya Alliance) ticket being given to Kalonzo Musyoka,” added Mr Mbui, who is also the Kathiani Member of Parliament.
Land fraud case
Wiper leaders want Mr Wanjigi to quit ODM and join OKA, to support Mr Musyoka’s presidential bid.
Mr Mbui questioned the timing of Mr Wanjigi’s arrest over an old land fraud case, saying the manner he was arrested leaves no doubt that it was not just about the case “but other things.”
“The kind of force that was used and the timing of the arrest leaves no doubt that it was not just about the case because how many land cases do we have in this country and how have they been handled?” he paused.
Mr Maanzo says any presidential candidate will have to pick a running mate from the vote-rich Central Kenya to stand a good chance of winning the presidency.
The call by Mr Musyoka’s allies on Mr Wanjigi to join Wiper party comes after the businessman attended a meeting by the Wiper leader at his Yatta home on Saturday, where he dismissed Mr Odinga’s presidential candidature.
“I’m very clear in my politics, there is a season for everything and you can’t keep having a season of Raila Amolo Odinga,” Mr Wanjigi said.
Although Mr Wanjigi did not directly respond to Mr Musyoka’s request for him to ditch ODM for the Wiper party, he left no doubt on his political direction.
“My time will reach and I will come back to this place, support us,” he said.
Mr Wanjigi did not respond to our texts and calls yesterday on the calls by Wiper leaders to support Mr Musyoka.
Upon being released from police custody on Wednesday, Mr Wanjigi claimed Mr Odinga has betrayed him by not living to the ideals of ODM, which is truth and justice.
He maintained that he is in ODM to stay and will fight to fly the flag of the party as its presidential candidate in the upcoming August polls.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) chairman, John Mbadi, however downplayed Mr Wanjigi’s tribulations, terming him as a person who wants people to believe that his personal problems are political.
“The guy is being overrated for nothing. Even if he goes to OKA, what can he do? People claim that he has money and he bankrolled ODM.It is me who signs ODM cheques and I have never seen any shilling from him,” Mr Mbadi said.
Mr Mbadi is categorical that Mr Wanjigi does not qualify to fly the ODM flag as its presidential candidate.
“Our rules are clear that for one to qualify as a presidential candidate in our party, he must have been in the party for five years. These are rules that we have deposited with IEBC and have already been approved for use. How long has Wanjigi been in ODM, what ideals does he stand for?" paused Mr Mbadi.
Mr Wanjigi, who backed Mr Odinga’s presidential bid in the 2017 election after a falling out with President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, had endeared himself to ODM supporters when he stood up against a Jubilee victory, which was perceived by Nasa supporters as illegitimate. The businessman has since fallen out with the party.
“How has ODM betrayed him when Raila himself defended him and even spent at his house when the government came for him in 2017? He has now realised that we have ignored him and he is trying to use ODM to fight his personal problems. Where does ODM come on land fraud cases” asked the ODM boss.