Realignments are taking centre stage in Ukambani politics. Apart from the Uhuru Kenyatta succession, battles are raging for governorship and senatorship in Kamba dominated counties.
In Machakos, the race to succeed Governor Alfred Mutua is gaining momentum with players now engaging in boardroom politics with each laying strategies on how to capture power come next elections.
Mutua who is serving his second term is also busy grooming his successor through his Maendeleo Chap Chap party with the intention of controlling county politics and also safeguarding his supposed legacy. The jostling for the top county job has intensified with candidates laying groundwork before making the final declaration. Already, four forces have emerged with each scheming on how to have the upper hand in county politics ahead of the next general elections.
The first camp revolves around Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and his Wiper party were three forces are fighting for recognition. They are banking on the party’s popularity in Ukambani to tilt the tide on their side and so are hellbent to be the Wiper flagbearer.
The party lost to Mutua who had decamped from from Wiper to form his own Chap Chap party but is now hoping to capture the seat now that Mutua is exiting. Mutua defeated Wiper’s Wavinya Ndeti who was also his challenger in 2013 elections but now the party is keen to reclaim the seat. Mutua is said to have used the advantage of incumbency and huge county resources he controlled to frustrate Wavinya’s bid. Kalonzo’s party also suffered a blow in the county after performing poorly in the parliamentary contests in 2017 elections.
Out of the eight parliamentary seats in the county, Wiper managed to win four with the rest going to its competitors. Wiper won Mavoko, Matungulu, Kathiani and Masinga. It lost Machakos Town which went to Jubilee party through Victor Munyaka, Mwala which went to Maendeleo Chap Chap through Vincent Musyoka, Kangundo went Muungano party through Fabian Kyule and Yatta which went to an ndependent Charles Kilonzo.
The party also lost the senatorial seat which fell to CCU party through Boniface Kabaka. According to sources Kalonzo has hired experts to conduct a survey on why the party performed dismally in Machakos county considered the bedrock of Kamba politics and advise on the way forward. Kalonzo has vowed to paint the county Wiper come the next elections.
According to sources Wiper party is scheduled to carry out grassroots election as a way of revamping it and at the same time inject new blood. In the party, three factions have emerged and each working separately laying strategies with each fighting for Kalonzo’s attention. One group revolves around Kathiani MP Robert Mbui who has expressed interest to run for the governor’s seat in the next polls.
The two term Wiper MP was considered a formidable candidate to oust Mutua from office in the last polls but chickened out the last minute to defend his parliamentary seat forcing Kalonzo to settle on Wavinya Ndeti who eventually lost to Mutua.
This time round Kathiani MP Robert Mbui has teamed up with Yatta MP Kilonzo and declared that they will be working for top county seats. The duo made the announcement at a church function in Mbui’s constituency last week signaling a duel for the control of the Wiper party. In his speech, the Yatta MP promised to decamp back to Wiper
and strike a deal with Mbui.
The second camp is revolving around Wavinya and her 2017 running mate who is the party deputy secretary general Peter Mathuki. This camp is facing criticism from Wiper members who are now urging Kalonzo to field different people if the party is to improve its performance in Machakos county.
However the team is considered loyal to the party and its leader and still remains Kalonzo’s favourite and is likely that he will still stand behind it in the next polls. The Wavinya -Mathuki ticket nearly led to the split of Wiper to the advantage of Mutua.
The third camp is led by former Machakos senator Johnson Muthama who has of late ironed out differences with Kalonzo after they fell out in the runup to the last general elections. Muthama ditched the party and even declined to defend his senatorial seat citing betrayal after the party locked out his preferred governor candidate Bernard Kiala from the race. Muthama is now in political cold is planning a major comeback with word that he is finalising his degree course with the aim of contesting for the seat himself. He has been telling his allies that he has passed all his exams and that his lecturers had told him that he could have skipped classes because he is specially intelligent except that he must show his semester exams transcripts and so he must go through all classes.
Muthama has of late come out as a fierce critic of the handshake between Uhuru and Raila Odinga which Kalonzo has endorsed terming it as an agreement between Uhuru and Raila.
To Muthama, Kalonzo knows nothing about the handshake and should lead the community in disowning it. Muthama who has of late won back Kalonzo rebels back to the party is said to be frustrated by the fact that Kalonzo has refused to name him the party chairman after Kalonzo fell out with Wiper chairman Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana.
Muthama who had hoped to get the post to entrench himself in the party was shocked when Kalonzo flatly refused his moves to be appointed the party chairman.Kalonzo also rejected attempts by Mavoko MP Patrick Makau who was also eyeing the seat maintaining that the post would be occupied by a nonKamba since Wiper is a national party. The name of Taita Taveta governor Granton Samboja has featured as a possible person to replace Kibwana. Samboja won the seat on a Wiper ticket. Calls to name Muthama the party chairman had backing from rebels who are now trooping back to Kalonzo for political survival and are hoping to use Muthama to protect them from Kalonzo diehards who are uncomfortable on their move to rejoin Wiper.
The former rebels now back include former MPs Kiema Kilonzo, Joe Mutambu, Kisoi Munyao and Benson Mbai. The group is fully behind Muthama’s schemes to be the party chairman for him to take care of their interests. Also back in the fold is former Kibwezi MP Philip Kaloki.
Governor Mutua’s choice for his successor is his deputy Francis Maliti.
Maliti is considered loyal and has the backing of the county senior employees who are rooting for status quo. Although the governor has not come out to endorse his DG, his men are busy meeting and planning on how to popularise his bid.
To them Maliti, will take of their intrests and safeguard their jobs as opposed to a new face. The governor is also said to be reaching to State House man Nzioka Waita as a possible candidate for Chap Chap party. Waita who comes from Machakos Town constituency is the deputy head of civil service and the head of presidential delivery unit. Waita is credited with using his position to lobby for roads projects especially in Machakos Town were major roadworks are currently underway. If he runs, pundits say, he will prove a formidable candidate due to the connections he has built at State House.