The raging leadership wrangles in Ford-Kenya have taken a new twist in the wake of heightened demands for grassroots elections that would effectively herald a sweeping change of guard at the national office.
At stake are fears of a major coup targeting party leader Moses Wetang’ula and secretary general Eseli Simiyu, both who have variously been accused of presiding over the lion party’s worrying decline, owing to their lackluster leadership.
Although no one is yet to openly show interest in the top seat at the party’s hierarchy, outspoken Kiminini lawmaker Chris Wamalwa has not shied away from taking on the SG, whom he accuses of colourless leadership.
Wamalwa has since thrown his hat in the ring for the position of secretary general and believes he would affect major changes to bring back Ford Kenya on the national map, fomenting a looming showdown of monumental proportions between the Kiminini MP and his Tongaren counterpart Eseli.
Wamalwa has expressed interest in running for Trans Nzoia governor.
The long overdue polls to pick new grassroots officials seek to rejuvenate the party, with none other than the party leader vouching for fresh blood across the ranks.
However, Wetang’ula, who is also the Bungoma senator has variously been accused of dragging the grassroots polls that would see the party grow and compete effectively in the political arena, with non-performing office holders paving way for progressive forces.
More recently, Wetang’ula was at pains to declare that the party will wind up grassroots polls Western region, Ford Kenya’s traditional bastion.
According to Wetang’ula, elections in Western counties, parts of Nyanza and Trans Nzoia will be most competitive, hence the necessity to hold the elections last.
Other than the SG battlefield, tough competition is expected in Bungoma, with the chairmanship position currently held by Kanduyi MP Wamunyinyi attracting interest from Bungoma deputy governor Charles Ngome. Branch secretary general Peter Wakhuleka has indicated he will be defending his seat.
With Wetang’ula having been endorsed by party members and delegates to vie for the presidency in 2022, the party hopes to get the countrywide polls close in June, culminating into a national delegate’s conference at the Bomas of Kenya at a date to be determined later.
Bungoma women representative Catherine Wambilianga, leader of majority in the assembly who is also Maeni ward MCA Florence Wekesa and Violet Mulati have all declared interest in the county women’s leader’s seat, with youth leader Wafula Wakoli, a personal assistant to Wetang’ula, still undecided on whether or not to defend his seat.
The looming showdown in Ford Kenya comes at a time when the stalled merger between ANC and Ford-K appear to be generating heat in both parties, with suspicion rife in Musalia Mudavadi-led party that Ford Kenya has been infiltrated by dark forces attributable to William Ruto.
The merger that was designed to create an outfit capable of unifying the Luhya community and consolidating its votes ahead of the next polls seems to have been a stillbirth, with ANC accusing Ford-K, whose deputy party leader Bonnie Khalwale of vouching for Ruto.
Major political players in the region cite Khalwale’s cunningness in the failed merger at Ruto’s behest. Lugari MP Ayub Savula, for instance, is on record to have taken on the former Kakamega senator for hurrying the merger ostensibly to mortgage the new outfit to Ruto, effectively leaving Mudavadi party less in the run up to 2022 which observers say it won’t work.