Sibling rivalry in Raila, Ruto teams boils over

What you need to know:

  • The most prominent feuds in Deputy President William Ruto’s alliance include fights between Alfred Mutua and Johnson Muthama in Machakos, Aisha Jumwa and Amason Kingi in Kilifi and Cleophas Malala and Boni Khalwale in Kakamega.
  • Battles in the Raila Odinga’s Azimio coalition involve James Orengo and Nicholas Gumbo fight for the Siaya governor seat and Kiraitu Murungi and Peter Munya’s feuding for control of Eastern Mt Kenya.

The two leading political alliances are locked in intense sibling rivalries and divisive intra-coalition competition that could heavily undermine their performance, with less than three months to the August 9 General Election.

Leaders of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition and the Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA) are torn between building their offensive for the upcoming polls and constantly looking back to address a series of conflicts that are rocking their camps at a time when they should be consolidating their positions with just about 80 days to the closely contested polls.

Some of the most prominent rivalries in Deputy President William Ruto’s camp include the rows between Alfred Mutua and Johnson Muthama in Machakos, Aisha Jumwa and Amason Kingi in Kilifi and Cleophas Malala and Boni Khalwale.

Battles in the Raila Odinga-led Azimio coalition include the James Orengo and Nicholas Gumbo fight for the Siaya Governor seat, Kiraitu Murungi and Peter Munya’s feuding for control of Eastern Mt Kenya and Anyang’ Nyong’o and Jack Ranguma’s contest for the Kisumu Governor office.

Right from power-sharing agreements to turf wars over control of electoral regions, the wars within are increasingly getting dirtier and messier, distracting the coalitions from pushing on with their campaigns.

The recent publication of the power-sharing deal in KKA has exposed the soft underbelly of DP Ruto’s outfit, with bickering over leakage of the agreement being a constant source of conflict.

William Ruto and Raila Odinga.

Deputy President and Kenya Kwanza Presidential aspirant William Ruto (left) and Azimio Coalition flagbearer Raila Odinga. They are torn between building their offensive for the upcoming polls and constantly looking back to address conflicts within their camps.

The rift has escalated after DP Ruto’s UDA unveiled candidates in western Kenya to take on both ANC and Ford Kenya, including in Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s backyard of Sabatia constituency.

The contentious agreement awards Mr Mudavadi the post of the yet-to-be created chief Cabinet Secretary, with Mr Wetang’ula primed for that of the Speaker of National Assembly.

It also rewards the two parties with 30 per cent representation in a future Ruto government, but on the condition that the two  rally 70 per cent of the region’s vote to UDA in the August 9 presidential poll.

On Friday, Mr Ruto’s running mate, Mr Rigathi Gachagua, fired yet another salvo that could consume the alliance even further. While addressing a rally, he retorted that the Mt Kenya region will demand 50 per cent of Ruto’s government, sparking new recriminations over the future of power-sharing under Kenya Kwanza. Mr Gachagua’s demand was in reaction to pressure from Mount Kenya leaders who have raised questions on the contentious agreement awarding 30 per cent seats to western under a Ruto regime.

The defection of Kilifi governor Amason Kingi has opened supremacy war in the Coast, pitting him against Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, who is angling to succeed him on a UDA ticket.

Ms Jumwa has argued the Kingi-led Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) is not supposed to field candidates in the county, urging the governor to concentrate on the mandate he was given to coordinate Kenya Kwanza campaigns at the Coast and stop interfering with Kilifi politics as it was a UDA zone.

A similar situation is unfolding in lower Eastern, where the defection of Governor Mutua to KKA has peeved Mr Muthama, who has declared that their rivalry is too deep to allow him to share a podium with the governor.

Mr Muthama has said that the governor must apologise to the people of Machakos County for his 10-year ‘misrule’ if they have to patch up their differences.

In Azimio, Mr Odinga’s stab at the presidency is at risk due to the historical differences between Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and governors Charity Ngilu and Kivutha Kibwana.

Ms Ngilu is the leader of Narc, while Prof Kibwana Muungano Party. Mr Musyoka has demanded that Mr Odinga cordons off the entire lower eastern region for his Wiper party as a pre-condition for rejoining the Azimio coalition.

In Mt Kenya East, Governor Murungi skipped Martha Karua’s campaign tour of the county citing his political differences with Mr Munya.

The supremacy battle pitting Mr Munya and Eala MP Mpuru Aburi, on one side, and Mr Murungi and Igembe North MP Maore Maoka on the other emerged following Wednesday’s tour of the county by Ms Karua.

Ms Karua was accompanied by Mr Munya and some of the aspirants under the Azimio coalition on the trip that covered 11 townships in Meru.

Mr Murungi, whom Ms Karua said had sent his apologies, was missing in action just like Mr Maoka, who does not see eye-to-eye with Mr Munya.

Mr Maoka accused Mr Munya of not involving other Azimio leaders in Meru in planning for the meeting.

“Ms Karua will be in Kiambu on Saturday and all leaders are meeting today to plan for it just like in Nyeri. The problem is that the CS wanted to run the show in Meru. If the Azimio party wants to make Meru campaigns a CS affair, so be it…” said Mr Maoka, adding that since they were not involved, “We decided to give the CS some space”.

“The problem is that the CS has his own lineup that he wants to work with yet Azimio has many affiliate parties,” he said.

Mr Maoka’s alarm comes amid Governor Murungi’s claims that CS Munya was backing Meru Woman rep Kawira Mwangaza’s gubernatorial bid despite her not being in the Azimio coalition.

Speaking on Weru TV, Mr Murungi said he had gathered intelligence that indicates Mr Munya was bankrolling Ms Mwangaza.

“We have information that they have been meeting in Nanyuki to plan how to unseat me. This is why Mr Munya has been saying I don’t qualify for re-election. However, I am not afraid of them,” Mr Murungi said.

In response, Ms Mwangaza told the Nation that Mr Munya is her ally and was free to associate with any politician in Meru.

“Governor Murungi is not Mr Munya’s friendship prefect to dictate who he talks to. It is true CS Munya is my friend and mentor in politics. We have not only met in Nanyuki but also in Nairobi, in offices as well as at our homes.”

“The governor has been accusing me of being a lone ranger, yet when he learns that I am working with Mr Munya it becomes a problem. Governor Murungi is afraid of the contest,” Ms Mwangaza said.

Besides the feeling that the Kenya Kwanza agreement surrenders too much power to Mr Mudavadi at the expense of Mt Kenya, disgruntled leaders from Central Kenya say they were kept in the dark about the agreement until it surfaced in the media.

Apparently Mt Kenya leaders who have lately signed up to Kenya Kwanza – Moses Kuria, William Kabogo and Mwangi Kiunjuri – did not sign or obtain similar iron-clad guarantees that Mudavadi and Wetang’ula appear to have secured from the DP.

Mr Mudavadi has remained quiet in the face of squabbles about the agreement, while Wetang’ula has has struggled to ward off controversy that has been generated about the 70 per cent requirement.

When the agreement was made public, Mr Wetang’ula took to his Twitter handle to dismiss the agreement, urging ANC and Ford Kenya supporters to ignore the newspaper reports. Senator Kithure Kindiki, who was party to the negotiations, subsequently confirmed that the Western Kenya leaders agreed to it in exchange for the assigned posts and 30 per cent representation in government.

“We know what we exactly negotiated,” Mr Wetang’ula tweeted on May 11, after the details of the pact first emerged, even as he tried to blame the media of being used by the state to mislead the public.

“It is misleading! Positions and conditions are not our portion. Let’s focus on what our people will get.”

As the debate on the 70 per cent heated up, Mr Wetang’ula returned to his Twitter handle on May 19:

 “No one gave us a condition of 70 per cent as purported by state-sponsored media houses. If it is question of percentages, then we will deliver over 99 per cent of western to Kenya Kwanza.”

Yesterday, the Sunday Nation inquired from Mr Wetang’ula why he has been prevaricating on the issue.

“I have never denied any such issue,” he replied, adding that both he and Mr Mudavadi know their primary constituency. “Who says we can’t get such a percentage. In fact we shall surpass it.”

But the senator did not explain how the 70 per cent deliverable had got its way into the deal, and its implications. He did not respond to a question on the growing concern in western that, as the lead negotiator, he had failed to extract proper guarantees in the agreement, especially the failure to zone out western to both ANC and Ford Kenya and the 70 per cent requirement.

Yesterday, the ANC secretary-general Simon Gikuru and his Ford Kenya counterpart Chris Wamalwa added a new twist when they separately insisted to the Sunday Nation that the 70 per cent requirement does not exist in the pact.

“The requirement (of 70 per cent) is not in the agreement,” said Mr Gikuru, who is listed as among those who appended their signatures on the document that is already filed with the Registrar of Political Parties.

“I can only guess that Prof Kindiki made the comments because he was overwhelmed by the events leading up to the naming of their runningmate,” he added.

At the same time, Mr Wetang’ula is progressing with plans to defend his senatorial seat despite being promised the Speaker’s post, while Mr Mudavadi is not running.

Within ANC, supporters are questioning why UDA is not fronting candidates in Bungoma and Trans Nzoia, perceived Ford Kenya strongholds, with the same vigour the DP’s party is doing in Vihiga and Kakamega.

Former senator Boni Khalwale, Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali and Senator Cleophas Malala are embroiled in tussles pitting UDA and ANC camps.

Mr Malala is the chairman of ANC party in Kakamega County, while Dr Khalwale and Mr Washiali are the key point men of UDA in the region.

Dr Khalwale and Mr Washiali are said to be campaigning for UDA candidates in the region, but have asked Mr Malala not to campaign for ANC aspirants.

Mr David Wamatsi, an aspirant for Mumias East parliamentary seat on ANC ticket, has threatened to mobilise his supporters to back Mr Odinga if the UDA leaders continue to campaign against him.

He accused Mr Washiali and Dr Khalwale of campaigning for UDA aspirant Benson Mapwoni, but restricting Mr Malala from campaigning for him.

“They should stop campaigning for Mr Mapwoni. If they feel they have to push him to the end, then they should allow Mr Malala to support my bid as ANC team,” said Mr Wamatsi.

Mr Washiali and Dr Khalwale had threatened to withdraw their support for Mr Malala’s gubernatorial bid should he continue campaigning for Mr Wamatsi.

The biggest headache for Azimio in western Kenya, similarly, is the tussle between DAP-K and ODM parties.

DAP-K is led by Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa while ODM deputy leader and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya is spearheading ODM’s campaigns.

The move by ODM in western region to zone off Kakamega, Busia and Vihiga – leaving DAP-K to field candidates in Bungoma County has angered politicians from the party.

In Kisumu County, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and former Governor Jack Ranguma are both contesting under the Azimio la Umoja coalition.

While Prof Nyong’o was given a direct ODM ticket, Mr Ranguma picked Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) led by Ugenya MP David Ochieng.

This comes as Mr Odinga has rallied supporters in his stronghold to only vote for ODM candidates in the six elective positions.

“I don’t want to be a toothless president. I have chosen Prof Nyong’o as my captain down here as I fight the bigger battle up there and I want you to vote him as well as other ODM candidates,” he said in Kisumu last week.

Mr Ranguma has paired with Tom Nalo who hails from Kisumu West as his deputy.

Former East African CAS Ken Obura who is also backing Mr Odinga’s candidature has also thrown his hat into the ring. But the emergence of Mr Obura who hails from Kano clan could dent Mr Ranguma’s chances to dislodge the incumbent.

In Kakamega, aspirants for the Senate, Woman representative, MP and MCA seats said the proposal was meant to frustrate the small parties.

Nominated Senator Naomi Shiyonga, who is in the race for the position of the Woman rep, said it was unacceptable to ask aspirants from the smaller parties under Azimio to step down from the race after they had invested in their campaigns heavily.

“As DAP-Kenya aspirants, we agreed to back Mr Odinga as our presidential candidate. This does not mean that we have to surrender other seats to ODM,” said Ms Shiyonga.

DAP-Kenya National Executive Council member Wafula Nabwera said they will not allow the party to be run by officials of other parties.

Mr Javas Bigambo, a political analyst said: “The president is supporting Mr Odinga for the top seat and Mr Gumbo is a threat to Mr Orengo’s bid to succeed Mr Cornel Rasanga. Therefore, we can authoritatively say the government is using platform, opportunities and resources to set an agenda that would meet the interest.”

Reported Ibrahim Oruko, Shaban Makokha, Victor Raballa, Kassim Adinasi and Ian Byron.

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