The decision by the Deputy President William Ruto's UDA party to field a parliamentary candidate in Sabatia constituency, the home of ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi has caused jitters within the Kenya Kwanza alliance with leaders demanding the withdrawal of the candidate Clement Siloya.
Sabatia is the home constituency of Mr Mudavadi in Vihiga county and his allies argue that as a sign of good faith and respect, UDA should have shown some respect by leaving it exclusively to ANC. It is meant to undermine the former Deputy prime minister, they add.
To demonstrate good faith, they want the DP to immediately sanction the withdrawal of Mr Siloya from the race to succeed Mr Alfred Agoi who is vying for the governor seat in Vihiga County.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said a pact between ANC, UDA and Ford Kenya was meant to promote friendship and create political strength for Dr Ruto’s presidential bid.
“That is why we in ANC and Ford Kenya have not fielded candidates in Ruto’s backyard, which we left for UDA. But the decision by UDA to extend its arm to Sabatia does not add up and something must be done urgently,” said Mr Malala.
This comes amid sibling rivalry between the two parties in Kenya Kwanza that has resulted in continued fist fights in Mumias East where incumbent MP Benjamin Washiali has vowed to campaign for his candidate Benson Mapwoni to the ballot.
Kenya Kwanza Senatorial candidate Boni Khalwale is also promoting campaigns for UDA candidates in the county.
Mr Malala, the Kenya Kwanza governor candidate on ANC ticket in Kakamega is at loggerheads with Mr Khalwale and Washiali, who is coordinating Ruto’s presidential campaigns in Western region.
Mr Khalwale and Washiali have chosen to drum up support for UDA candidates against other candidates in Dr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza team.
Mr Malala has since demanded that he be allowed to popularise ANC candidates in the county ahead of the August 9 polls.
“Since Mr Khalwale is campaigning for UDA candidates yet he needs votes from all parties within the county, they should also allow me to campaign for ANC candidates as we focus on the presidential position,” he argued at Mwikali village while campaigning for Mr David Wamatsi, the ANC parliamentary candidate in Mumias East.
But UDA supporters in the constituency have vowed to jeopardize the gubernatorial candidature of Mr Malala should he promote campaigns for Mr Wamatsi.
“Mr Malala is looking for the seat of the governor of Kakamega, let him concentrate on his position and stay out of the lower campaigns. If he continues to campaign for Mr Wamatsi against the UDA candidate, Mr Mapwoni, then we shall decide to vote out the two of them in Mumias East,” said Mr Kamau Murunga, UDA coordinator in Mumias East.
Supporters of Mr Wamatsi on the other hand are accusing Mr Washiali of confusing the unity of Kenya Kwanza in Mumias East.
“His role is spelt out as the coordinator of our presidential candidate in Western region. Why is he concentrating so much on the campaigns of UDA in Mumias East and causing tension between ANC and UDA in Mumias?” questioned Ms Everline Akinyi, ANC Secretary General in Mumias East sub-county.
The friendly fire in Mumias East is so vicious that supporters of Mr Wamatsi and those of Mr Mapwoni have engaged in fist fights on two occasions.
On Saturday, drama erupted at Isongo secondary school culminating into a fist fight between supporters of Mr Wamatsi and Mapwoni after Mr Khalwale and Washiali drummed up support for their candidate – Mr Mapwoni but stopped Mr Malala from campaigning for ANC candidate, Mr Wamatsi.
The two camps again engaged in fighting at Shianda market during joint campaigns between ANC and UDA that were attended by Mr Malala, Wamatsi, Washiali and Mapwoni among others
The most affected areas in Kakamega are Butere, Mumias East, Matungu and Mumias West constituencies and Sabatia in Vihiga County where the Kenya Kwanza alliance has parliamentary candidates on both UDA and ANC tickets.
In Butere, Michael Keya (UDA) is facing off with Habil Nanjendo (ANC), in Matungu Alex Lanya (ANC) is rivaling Paul Posho (UDA), and in Mumias West Rashid Echesa (UDA) is facing Jackline Okanya (ANC) while in Mumias East David Wamatsi (ANC) and facing stiff competition from Benjamin Mapwoni (UDA).
Mr Washiali, who endorsed Mapwoni as the UDA parliamentary candidate, argued that as long as their candidate has met all the requirements, they are bound to support him to the ballot.
“Our supporters should note that the alliances are not meant in any way to kill our parties. There is no specific candidate for Kenya Kwanza because the candidates including the presidential candidate have come from political parties which merged to birth the alliance,” said Mr Washiali.
Mr Malala observed that should their alliance resort to zoning it might work against their victory.
“There is a need for us in Kenya Kwanza to work as a team. If we continue this way, we stand to lose this county to Azimio,” said Mr Malala.
He said despite each party fielding candidates for various seats, voters should decide the last fate of the contenders instead of parties within the same coalition jostling to get the better off against each other.
He regretted that UDA was undermining ANC in the Western region to the extent that it had fielded a parliamentary candidate in Mr Mudavadi’s Sabatia constituency.
“If this is the way to go, then our coming together is deception,” Mr Malala said.
The tussle between the three senior politicians is likely to complicate Kenya Kwanza campaigns in the region against a pending target of 70 per cent vote target for Mr Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang’ula to merit a 30 per cent stake in the government if Dr Ruto becomes President.
Mr Khalwale and Mr Malala have taken their campaigns to rural voters in Kakamega’s 12 sub-counties.
If the DP’s lieutenants sink into sibling rivalry, the region, which voted overwhelmingly for ODM in previous elections, may end up under the dominance of Azimio.
Mr Malala is facing off with Azimio’s Fernandes Barasa under ODM, Suleiman Sumba (Kanu) and Samuel Omukoko (MDP) in the governor’s race.
In the Senate race are Mr Khalwale, Brian Lishenga (ODM) and Asha Ngaira (Kanu).