Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka submitted his name as a presidential aspirant on May 9 , on the same day interviews for the running mate of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition flagbearer began.
The submission of the Wiper presidential aspirant’s name was done in response to a directive by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to revise their nomination lists to meet the two-thirds gender principle. The letter forwarding the list of Wiper aspirants dated May 9 was signed by the party’s National Elections Board chairperson Agatha Solitei.
The Wiper party had endorsed Mr Musyoka as its presidential candidate during the National Delegates Convention (NDC) held at the Kasarani gymnasium on November 25, 2021. On Monday, the party submitted the name of Mr Musyoka’s running mate, Narok senator hopeful Andrew Sunkuli, to the IEBC.
A source at the IEBC revealed that whereas the name was accepted, other underlying questions being raised as pertains to Mr Musyoka’s eligibility despite Wiper entering into a coalition agreement with Azimio, will be addressed in the clearance stage.
“Accepting (a name) is clerical so subsequently the team shall sit and deliberate on the same,” the IEBC official said.
Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, a close ally of Mr Musyoka, said: “The name of my PL (party leader) as a Wiper presidential nominee was presented to IEBC a long time ago in compliance with the commission’s deadlines.” He added that they were confident of having Mr Musyoka’s name on the ballot.
“Nothing other than mischief would stop this ticket from being cleared to go all the way to the ballot. As a party we are sufficiently prepared to win the August 9, 2022 presidential election,” the Kitui senator said.
Wiper party vice-chairman Mutula Kilonzo Jnr had earlier said that even though the Azimio exit clause is prohibitive and no one can leave, “our view as Wiper legal team is that no one can limit Article 38 (of the constitution) as a fundamental right.”
“We have been serious from the onset about fielding Mr Musyoka as a presidential candidate. We submitted his name while we were doing the same for our names,” Mr Kilonzo said yesterday.
Yesterday, Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu said her office was yet to receive a communication from Wiper on any plans to sever links with Azimio. She, however, said that should the same reach her office, relevant provisions of the law governing the agreement shall apply.
Already, Ms Nderitu has ruled that parties under the Azimio coalition party can only quit six months before the August poll, and three months after. The registrar made it clear that Wiper was one of the parties that formed Azimio and not One Kenya Alliance as claimed by some Wiper leaders.
“They have always been in Azimio. How could he (Kalonzo) be saying that he wanted to be nominated as a running mate if they were not in Azimio? Those are just the usual stories in politics but what is important is to follow the law,” Ms Nderitu said.
It was not clear yesterday whether Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, who attended Mr Musyoka’s ceremony on Monday, would stick with the Wiper leader should he get the nod to run for president.
But Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat downplayed such plans, noting that the independence party was in Azimio to stay.
“Our party chairman may just have met Kalonzo in his own capacity as Gideon Moi but not as Kanu because Kanu is a party which has its own ways of doing things. And if Kanu wants to pull out of Azimio, there are procedures and processes, you don’t just wake up one morning and decide that you want to leave,” he said.
Mr Musyoka’s decision to go for the presidency has already split Ukambani region down the middle with Young Wiper Democrats coming out strongly to defend his move on the same day a group led by governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Machakos governor aspirant Nzioka Waita (Chama Cha Uzalendo) called a meeting in Machakos to ask the people to back Mr Odinga for the presidency.
The meeting of aspirants from the three Ukambani counties, attended by the Azimio Executive Director Raphael Tuju, sent the message that the Kamba community was firmly in Azimio.
“We are not here to attack anyone. The issue is about our community and how the country will move forward,” said Prof Kibwana. He stressed the need for the community to support Azimio in order to be in the next government. He said Mr Musyoka was being misled by “three young people” whom he did not name.
“The message to Stephen is that we are in Azimio ... please come back while there is still time,” Prof Kibwana said.
Mr Waita said: “I have sat at the right hand of the President. It means a big thing to be offered 20 per cent of government.”
The deal, he said, included expanding the road from Kyumbi to Machakos and Nairobi to Tala and 500 kilometres of tarmac in Makueni and Kitui, among other projects.
A proposal to have governor Ngilu, Kibwana and Mr Waita to spearhead Mr Odinga's campaigns in the region was also adopted.
Ms Ngilu said her only condition to join Azimio was provision of water to the people in the region.
“Going forward we will not sleep until we deliver the seat. Raila has been our friend,” she said.
Reporting by Moses Nyamori, Justus Ochieng’, Collins Omullo and Stephen Muthini