Jubilee plots to wrestle Western from former Prime Minister Raila

The Jubilee coalition is working on a plan to gain political muscle in Western Kenya. It involves using Government-friendly MPs to reach out to the electorate and also involving former Vice-PresidentMusalia Mudavadi and former Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa more in the agenda.

Some of the 15 MPs who met the President and his Deputy William Ruto last week, strongly argued the case for Mudavadi and Wamalwa, who are currently in ‘political Siberia’. The region currently lacks a leader who can rally the community into making binding political decisions as a block, as was the case during the Masinde Muliro and Kijana Wamalwa eras.

Apart from sub-tribe rivalries, leaders from the region spent their energies and resources destroying each other’s political careers, as was the case of former ministers Dr Mukhisa Kituyi and Musikari Kombo.  It emerged as a big surprise when Eugene abandoned Uhuru’s Jubilee and his own presidential ambition to join Mudavadi’s campaign in the last election.

The latest drama of local rivalry involves Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka, who is reportedly being fought by a senior CORD leader through propaganda over alleged misuse of devolved funds.

Fielding candidates

Ruto and Uhuru are keen on fielding candidates to help the Government get a seat in the Senate and a few more in the National Assembly should the on-going election petitions succeed.

Currently, neither Uhuru’s TNA nor Ruto’s URP have a single seat in Bungoma, Kakamega and Vihiga counties, and the same applies in the neighbouring Trans Nzoia county.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s CORD has the largest number of MPs, Senators and Governors, followed by Mudavadi-Wamalwa’s Amani coalition.

This week, Uhuru held a meeting with 15 MPs led by Lugari MP Ayub Savula, where the President and the legislators agreed on a roadmap of the Jubilee government’s plan for the region. “We asked the President to consider the fate of the two, who at some point worked closely with the current Jubileeleadership in G7, and he promised to look into their fate,” said Bumula MP Bonface Otsyula (New Ford-Kenya).

The region overwhelmingly voted CORD in the March 4 General Election, with one of its co-principals, Ford-Kenya leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, being the Minority leader in the Senate.

Infrastructure collapsed

Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba (ODM), a key Raila ally, said: “The President and his Deputy are at liberty to invite whoever they wish to their residences to discuss whatever they wish. I am not aware of the meeting and if it happened, it really is of no interest or concern to me.”

He scoffed at the State House meeting and dismissed it as returning Kenya to the retrogressive days when “development” was dependent on licking the boots of the powers that be.

Western Kenya has produced three Vice-Presidents — Wamalwa Kijana, Moody Awori and Mudavadi — as the highest-ranking leaders to have ever served in government.

“Western Kenya is fine and will be fine. What has the presence of many western leaders in Government achieved in the past?” asked Namwamba. He continued: “What did three vice-presidents deliver to the region? During the presence of each of them, infrastructure collapsed, industries like Pan Paper and Nzoia Sugar deteriorated and poverty levels spiralled.”

He said all Kenyans pay taxes and are equally entitled to development resources, and hence obviates the need for leaders to pay homage at State House.

Another key Raila ally, Funyula MP Dr Paul Otuoma, had earlier scoffed at Jubilee’s attempts to gain some foothold in the region, pointing out that the region had able leaders to chart its way forward.

Early last month, Ruto toured Busia County whereCORD MPs John Waluke (Sirisia, ODM) and Patrick Wangamati (Ford-Kenya ) joined 11 MPs who pledged to work with the Jubilee Government.

Ruto’s forays in Western have been viewed as another determination by Jubilee to up its numbers in the House.

Jubilee is commanding a strong 216 members in the House, only 16 short of the 232 majority in a 349-member House, that could enable it make major constitutional amendments with ease.

Though some MPs feel the push for numbers in the House is a strong short-term reason for winning over Western, others say Jubilee’s long term strategy is to focus on retaining power come the 2017 General Election, and how the region could be under Jubilee.

Indeed, Ruto hinted to that line of thinking when he acknowledged that the region voted mainly forCORD leader Raila Odinga in the last election, but urged residents to back the Jubilee Government in the next.

“When we were seeking your votes, you decided to give us MPs but not enough votes for the presidency…we will come back in the next election and we urge you to support us,” said Ruto during his Busia visit last month.

There had been high expectation that the Mudavadi-Eugene team could be co-opted into the JubileeCabinet, but both missed out and have since remained in the political cold.

At the State House meeting with the MPs led by Savula, the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee chairman, the President agreed to get deeply involved in all development activities in the region.

The MPs declared their unwavering political support for the Jubilee Government both in and outside Parliament, in return for development projects to be initiated by the Uhuru administration.

Growing discomfort

“It’s true our message to the President and his Deputy was that Western becomes a Jubilee government-friendly zone in both politics and matters of development,” Savula told The Standard on Sunday.

Savula also revealed that Uhuru had agreed to tour the region soon, for the first time since assuming power as the country’s fourth President.

“The date of the President’s visit has not been settled on yet, but the Deputy President — who has been in the region on several occasions will today (Sunday) be in Mt Elgon Constituency for a church event,” added Savula, who has emerged as Jubilee’s key pointman in the region.

Otsyula added: “The President promised to give us his programme soon. His visit will give him an opportunity to state his development agenda for the region and projects he has lined-up for us.”

The Bumula MP said those leaders who have decided to work with the Jubilee Government should not be castigated, since the development to be attracted would be for the benefit of all people in the region.

Apart from politics, the meeting discussed revival of stalled factories, infrastructural development and transformational projects as part of Jubilee’s agenda for Western.

High levels of unemployment, poor road network, the region’s ailing dairy sector and woes facing cane farmers in the Mumias and Nzoia belts were raised by the MPs.

This latest meeting is the second between Uhuru and Western MPs, amid growing discomfort in the region over claims that the Jubilee Government has sidelined the Luhya community in key Government appointments.-standardmedia.co.ke

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