New Luhya unity pact hatched by Wetangula, Wamalwa, Wakoli runs into early trouble
Written by Wanyoyi wa Wasike
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MANGULIECHI DECLARATION: Trade Minister Moses Wetangula and Justice Ministe eugene Wamalwa holdinghands as a sign of unity after they resolved to work together and foster the elusive Luhya unity during the burial of Wanyonyi Manguliechi in Bungoma County. [PHOTO|File|West Fm]
PRESSURE from loyalists is threatening to derail the new unity pact recently hatched by Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa, his Trade counterpart Moses Wetang’ula and Lands Assistant Minister Bifwoli Wakoli.
Even though the unity initiative has received widespread backing from among the masses, especially from the trio's Bungoma and Trans-Nzoia Counties respectively, it will be interesting to watch how the politicians will circumvent the turbulence caused by their coming together, mostly from hardliners from their respective camps.
Though both Wetang’ula and Wamalwa aver that all is well following the unity declaration made during the burial of the late Bukusu spiritual preacher John Wanyonyi Manguliechi at Kibingei village in Bungoma, West Fm has established a different scenario on the ground altogether.
The Manguliechi Declaration, as it has come to be called, made in the presence of among others, Forestry Minister Dr. Noah Wekesa, Mps Cyrus Jirongo, Dr Eseli Simiyu, PNU nominated Mp Musikari Kombo and a host of civic leaders is fast appearing to run into trouble as loyalists of the political leaders who made the declaration continue to poke holes into the initiative, with some openly nudging their men to walk out and continue fighting each other.
While Wetang’ula, shrewd by nature in surviving in such scenarios has managed to beat his troops (including Wakoli and Eseli) into submission to support the unity initiative, the biggest challenge is facing Wamalwa who is trying to ward off barrage after barrage of attacks from his allies who are uncomfortable with the “other people” altogether.
“We are yet to meet as a party to ratify such a move because this is not an initiative that could have been taken by one person alone. We know there’s a lot of resistance regarding such an initiative because those who are propagating the unity are merely trying to maintain the status quo,” says Dr Juma Mukhwana, New Ford-Kenya National Organizing Secretary who is challenging Wetang’ula for the newly-created Kabuchai Constituency in Bungoma County.
Dr. Mukhwana’s sentiments are supported by Moses Wekesa alias Savimbi, another of Wamalwa’s close allies who, though advocates for the unity and was part of the team that last weekend travelled to Bududa in Eastern Uganda to make another unity declaration, referred to as the Bududa Declaration, is quick to add that such an arrangement must benefit his own man.
“Eugene Wamalwa was, and is still enjoying the goodwill among the population and the Wetang’ula team may have sensed this and moved to stick with our man for their own survival and relevance in the politics of the Luhya community.
Majority of us feel that Wetang’ula and Wakoli have no option but to fold their party Ford-Kenya and cross over to New Ford-Kenya to support Wamalwa’s presidential bid,” maintains Savimbi.
Both Dr. Mukhwana and Savimbi maintain that should the unity of the two ministers hold, then it would end up hurting Wamalwa the most because he will likely lose the support of the many political aspirants who had already identified themselves with his New Ford-Kenya party.
And as if to stamp this thought, the aspirants from Wamalwa’s camp numbering over Sixty urgently converged at a Bungoma hotel immediately news of the Bududa declaration was broken to the Kenyan audience by West Fm, ostensibly to plot on the way forward.
During a charged meeting, the aspirants rounded on Savimbi who was present for “luring” Wamalwa into visiting Uganda only a day after he had arrived from a United Nations meeting in Geneva, Switzerland where the Minister led a Kenyan delegation to discuss human rights issues at the global forum.
Speakers who included Dr. Reginalda Wanyonyi, a Moi University lecturer who is running for the seat of woman representative in Bungoma County termed Wamalwa’s unity move as betrayal to them considering that “we had campaigned hard to neutralize” Wetang’ula and his people on the ground.
“It’s disheartening and a total act of betrayal for us to be branded as political brokers after the role that we played to make you popular on the ground to the extent of you recently being appointed as a cabinet minister. We demand that you immediately end your association with Wetang’ula who has continued to regard us with hatred, scorn and ridicule,” read a statement released after the meeting and addressed to Wamalwa.
The aspirants seemed to have been stung by Wetang’ula’s remarks at the burial of Manguliechi when the Sirisia Mp declared that following the unity declaration, the work of political brokers is over.
“My message to all political brokers, political near-do-wells, political mis-fits, turn-coats and your like is that following our unity declaration today, your game is officially over!” Wetang’ula said at the burial.
BUDUDA DECLARATION: (From R - L) Trade Minister Moses Wetangula, Bududa District Chairman Nambeshe John Baptiste, Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa and Lands Assistant minister Bifwoli Wakoli hold hands in a show of unity. [PHOTO|File|West Fm]
That statement appeared not to go down well with former Webuye Mp Joash Wa Mang’oli and Kombo who in their speeches had openly advocated for the entire community to rally behind Wamalwa who they regarded to as vibrant, fresh and stands a better chance of gunning for the country’s highest seat “compared to others”.
While Wa Mang’oli went flat out to market Wamalwa among the mourners as the best suited presidential candidate from the Luhya community and even went as far as branding Wamalwa’s name as a political party in itself, Kombo, though calling for the unity of all those present, appeared to lean towards Wamalwa at the end of his speech, telling the audience that the Saboti Mp is his preferred person to be chosen as the sole presidential candidate.
Coupled with the vicious fight they fought over the control of Ford-Kenya that eventually saw Wetang’ula take over the Lion party to the detriment of Kombo and Wamalwa, both of who latter decamped to Soita Shitanda’s New Ford-Kenya as their refuge, the coming together again of the leaders, according to political analysts, is like trying to mix oil with water.
Wetang’ula’s camp that includes current Bungoma County Council Chairman Meshack Wekesa Museveni and majority of councilors in the County have also come up with a raft of demands, chief among them that Wamalwa folds his New Ford-Kenya party, considered as an off-shoot of the original Ford-Kenya party and joins them in the Lion party to support Wetang’ula’s presidential bid.
“It’s public knowledge that Wetang’ula has the experience and resources to mount a serious presidential campaign and as a community, we stand a much higher chance of ascending to the presidency through Wetang’ula and Eugene, who is still young, must be made aware of this fact,” stresses Museveni.
Rumors already doing rounds, much to the discomfort of the aspirants are that both Wetang’ula and Wamalwa have entered a pre-poll pact whereby Wetang’ula will decide who runs for which seat in Bungoma County while Wamalwa does the same in Trans-Nzoia County with the two Ford parties avoiding to field candidates against each other.
“Their unity seems to be standing on quicksand because the aspirants may come up with a third force that may end up badly complicating matters on the ground. By coming together, the leaders want to be the automatic candidates to lock their challengers out and this will be strongly resisted and cause a serious backlash on the ground.
Such a scenario, coming at a time when the elections are just around the corner might work to the advantage of other political parties, making both Wetang’ula more so Wamalwa, emerging badly wounded,” says John Makali, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), Bungoma Branch Chairman and political analyst.
Makali further observes that by opting to unite now, the leaders may have borrowed a leaf from the predicament that befell Kombo and former Trade and Industry Minister Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi both of who, before the 2007 general elections, fought protracted wars in their Bungoma turf to eventually being tossed out by political lightweights from competitive politics.
While Kombo was defeated by Alfred Sambu in Webuye Constituency, Kituyi got his match in Eseli in Kimilili in what Bungoma voters said was meant to mete out punishment to them for their infighting that they said stalled development in the area.
At Bududa, Wetang’ula, Wamalwa and Wakoli talked passionately about their new-found unity and held hands together to stamp their point home, much to the delight of the Bududa District Chairman Nambeshe John Baptiste who received food and non-food items donated by the Kenyan government on behalf of victims of the recent landslide in the area that claimed lives and destroyed property.
Their speeches of sticking to the unity declaration at the event, laced with compliments for each other’s ability to run a meaningful presidential campaign back in Kenya were received with applause from their hosts, members of the Bagisu clan who are closely associated with the Bukusu tribe, both of who have come together to be referred to as “Inzu Ya Bamasaaba” (The house of the Bamasaaba).
In fact, it was Wakoli who received a standing ovation as the Bumula Mp stated that they are soon going to announce who among them is going to run for the presidency with the support of the rest, as Nambeshe quickly added that the Bagisu community will fund-raise for the candidate.
“We had initially placed our hopes in Masinde Muliro and Michael Kijana Wamalwa to deliver the Kenyan presidency to the house of Bamasaaba but we our spirits were crushed following their untimely deaths.
With your new unity initiative, you have rekindled our hopes and we will fully support whoever you will give us as the sole candidate,” said Nambeshe.
Perhaps sensing that he stands no chance in the new political arrangement, Jirongo has since parted ways with the trio and is running his own affairs.
Recently, Wetang’ula, Wamalwa and Wakoli carefully skipped a highly publicized western leaders’ meeting and political rally in Kakamega, leaving Jirongo to complain bitterly about their motives.
“My way of speaking the truth has ended up scaring even some of my closest friends who have now been warned to avoid me. Let the people from the Luhya community come together and champion for our unity themselves and avoid leaving this task to political leaders because majority of the politicians are having their own vested interests in the matter,” said a disappointed Jirongo.
The big question now is; will the new unity pact hold? Watch this space.
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