IS ALFRED MUTUA ECLIPSING KALONZO IN UKAMBANI?

Alfred Mutua the new King of Ukambani?“So, Willy, let me and you be wipers; Of scores out with all men — especially pipers! And, whether they pipe us free from rats or from mice, If we’ve promised them aught, let us keep our promise!” Robert Browning, Pied Piper of Hamelin.

With slight variation, the famous story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin best captures what is happening in Ukambani with regard to its new sensation, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.

The pied piper is a strange fellow who rid Hamelin town of rats by drowning them in River Weser using a charm pipe. Conned of his 1,000 guilder fee by the Mayor, the fellow charmed all the towns children and locked them up inside Koppleberg Hill never to be seen again.

The inside of Koppleberg Hill became the new “joyous home” of the children, a home where waters gushed and fruit trees grew, flowers put forth a fairer hue, sparrows were brighter than peacocks, dogs outran the fallow deer, honey-bees had lost their stings and horses were born with eagle wings.

That Mutua is the pied piper is not in doubt. He has charmed the ordinary folks with his big dreams for the new city, popular agriculture subsidy programme, ambulances for all locations just to mention but a few.

The entrenched interest groups of Machakos, led by the Senator Johnstone Muthama and former assistant minister Wavinya Ndeti, like the Mayor of Hamelin, refused to pay him his due support. Many others have been forced to offer “watermelon” support owing to the popularity of his plans.

There is a growing disquiet that that man is eclipsing former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. There are fears that Muthama’s protests is just a tip of the iceberg. Beneath is a swelling rebellion afraid of Mutua’s capacity to occasion a political revolution in the region.

The question is; will he drown these entrenched political interests away into political oblivion or will they drown him? Will he drown the people of Machakos with his grandiose plans or will he spare them and take them to the “joyous land.”

Area leaders and observers who have spoken to the Star paint a picture of an unfolding political revolution led by Dr Mutua’s generation of leaders who are now running the show in Ukambani. They are working at cross-purposes with the older and more experienced political leaders of the area.

Only Muthama has been bold enough to openly oppose Mutua’s plans. Mutua has responded by claiming Muthama’s beef with him emanate from campaign times when he (Mutua) refused to kneel before Muthama and seek his blessings to run for the seat.

Muthama has paid a heavy political price in the last few weeks. Leaders supporting Mutua also believe that Muthama is not acting alone; that he is representing the older politically entrenched leaders who feel threatened by the new wave sweeping the region.

“It’s not just Muthama. It cannot be. I believe someone else is pushing him from the background. Unfortunately, Mutua cannot be stopped, and so is our generation. The only way to stop him is to offer alternative development plan, not just to talk,” youthful Mwala MP Vincent Musau told the Star yesterday.

Musau is just one of the many youthful Mutua-generation leaders running the show in Ukambani. These include Stephen Mule (Matungulu), Patrick Musimba (Kibwezi West), Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town), Daniel Maanzo (Makueni), Patrick Makau (Mavoko), Kisoi Munyao (Mbooni), Jessica Nduku (Kibwezi East), Francis Mwangangi (Yatta) and Joe Mutambo (Mwingi Central) among others.

The generation is fired by new ethos epitomised by Mutua’s grand plans for Machakos, his simplicity, sense of purpose, independent-mindedness and knack for connecting to ordinary people. The re-election of Musimba as an independent candidate after being dumped by his Wiper party is a pointer to this new breed of politicians.

TIP party leader who was defeated by Musimba, Kalembe Ndile staunchly supports Mutua’s plans saying they fit into his pro-poor brand of politics. He too believes that Muthama is not speaking for himself in opposing Mutua.

“Muthama is speaking for others. He is not acting alone. At the same time, he appears to have something personal against Mutua. What he does not know is that he is hurting Cord interests by fighting popular development plans,” says Ndile. He says by now Muthama should have known that he is fighting a losing battle and embraced Mutua’s development plan.

Maanzo, the founder of Wiper party says those opposing Mutua’s development plan will be “politically castrated” in a flash of a moment. He says this is because Mutua’s plans resonates very well with the people on the ground.

He, however, denies that Muthama is acting as a front for other interests opposed to Mutua’s growing influence: “Muthama is a man of his own ideas. I do not think anyone thinks on behalf of Muthama. He is his own man and I believe he will re-discover himself and support the plans. Only a fool does not change his mind.”

According to Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior, the plans that Mutua has put in place are revolutionary to an extent that the whole country is looking at Machakos “as an example of what devolution can achieve.”

Governors in other places are now being judged by their people using Mutua as a yardstick. “I am not privy to the intrigues in Machakos county. However, I will not be shocked to find that his plans are causing ripples. It is expected,” Junior said.

An influential Embakasi-based businessman and close political observer of Ukambani politics was however categorical: “Musyoka has been in the central government for how many years? How many ministries has he held? What has he done to the people of Ukambani let alone his own constituency for all the years? People are not blind to these things, they can see!” said the man who refused to be named to protect business interests.

According to the businessman, Mutua is sounding a political death-knell for all area leaders who refused to embrace practical activities to rescue Ukambani people from poverty in their times. He says the politics of yesteryears where politicians just talked and talked is out of joint this time round.

He says by distributing chicks and tractors as part of the agriculture subsidy programme, Mutua is “sort of inciting the people against the old order of doing business.” He also strongly believes that Muthama is a front for Musyoka and demonstrates how:

“You remember at the launch on Friday Kalonzo promised to talk to Muthama to slow down on the opposition to Mutua. However, the following day he spoke in Western warning the government that it will be held to account if anything happened to Muthama. Those two statements are contradictory.”

He says the last nail to Musyoka’s political coffin would be delivered when Mutua’s plans succeed and take shape: “That is why they are frustrating him. They know what it means for Mutua to succeed. His rise will be their fall. This fits well into their old way of politicking.”

At the launch, Mutua went to great lengths to make Musyoka feel comfortable. He introduced him as “our political leader in this region.” He also gave him an opportunity to address the audience which included President Uhuru as the chief guest.

Mutua also touched a raw nerve when he openly supported the laptop project and asked his party leader to forgive him. He said he sees more opportunities in the laptop project than just laptops. Musyoka and other Cord luminaries are opposed to the laptop project.

Musyoka is said to have been prevailed to attend the Friday launch to avoid a scenario where Mutua would scoop all political fortunes arising from the presidential visit and historic launch of the new city.

Sources told the Star that political squabbles played behind the scenes at the launch. When Uhuru left the new city site for Machakos Golf Club, key Wiper people were not excited. They prevailed on Wiper MPs to boycott the public address by the president but it did not work.

“There was actually a confrontation of sorts when Musyoka required of Cord leaders including Mutua to keep off the public address after the main event, but it did not work,” said our source. The story could not, however, be corroborated.

Maanzo, however, says Wiper party considers Mutua to be quite an asset and is fully behind him as he delivers his manifesto to the people of Machakos.

“As a party, we are very proud of Mutua. He is leading while others follow. We hope this will serve to inspire other leaders to take his path. In the end, it is all for the good of the people,” Maanzo said.

Muthama categorically denies that he’s frustrating Mutua for the sake of it. He says he is not opposed to development but the manner in which it is being done and the order of priority. He says so much propaganda has been spewed against his name and believes time will bare him out. He says he is acting in his role as a senator in line with Article 96 of the constitutin which includes protection of the interests of the counties and their governments and oversight of state officers.

“The Hon. senator is not working or speaking for any one. In any case, that is not his modus operandi. He is merely executing his constitutional roles as the legitimately elected senator of Machakos. He is demanding probity of the county government especially in the manner it hopes to dish out land, one of the few resources the people of Machakos have,” Muthama’s personal assistant Richard Mutinda said.

He says the talk that Muthama is Musyoka’s front in an all-out war against Mutua is “neither here nor there.” Mutinda says Muthama does not want to keep quiet when his people are being duped with grand plans because a time will come when he will be bailed out.

“A time will verily come when these things they are being promised will come a cropper. The senator wants to be able to tell his people that he was there for them. He’s only being an effective senator,” he says.

He says a new city is not and cannot be a priority for the people of Machakos: “Machakos is a rural county and Machakos people need to be empowered wherever they are, not in the new city. The priority for the people is water, health care, sewage, food and the like.”

Mutinda says Muthama is right to believe that mega projects such as new cities are “a bit detached from the realities of Machakos residents.” He says world over, development of cities are gradual projects and there is never urgency in them.

Asked whether the senator is not risking politically by opposing such a popular project, Mutinda says: “The role of a good leader is not to blindly follow what resonates well with the people. He needs to guide them to get what is right. The senator believes that the truth does not get old. He believes that he will be sorted out by time.”

According to Musau, the whole thing rests on generational differences between the Muthama-type of leaders and Mutua’s. He says there are two distinct generations of leaders in Ukambani, one old and ‘talking politics” and another young and “talking development.” He said the region cannot continue doing business the same old way.

“The region needs a new-generation type of politics. This is what Mutua is offering and what Muthama is unable to make sense of,” Musau said.

Majority of the eight Machakos county MPs are young and fairly independent-minded. Of the eight, only three – Makau (Mavoko), Mule (Matungulu) and Mbui (Kathiani) were elected on Wiper ticket. The rest are products of resilient-politicking after they were allegedly rigged out of Wiper nominations.

These are Musau (Mwala- CCU), Munyaka (Machakos Town- CCU), Mwangangi (Yatta- Muungano), Benson Itwiku Mbai (Masinga- Ford People) and Maweu Kyengo (Kangundo- TIP). Unlike Machakos, each of the two other Ukambani counties- Makueni and Kitui had only one non-Wiper MP.

In Makueni, the only non-Wiper MP is Musimba, an Independent. He was, however, in Wiper until the by-election. In Kitui, the only non-Wiper MP is Kitui South’s Rachel Nyamai (Narc).

“When we convened as Machakos MPs to review Mutua’s plans and to agree to work with him, the entrenched interests did not take it kindly. They resorted to crude politics where some of us were scandalised because of the decisions we took,” Musau explains.

A lot is dependent on the success of Mutua’s grand plans. If he succeeds Muthama and Musyoka’s goose will be as good as cooked. If he fails, Muthama will be bailed out.

– the-star

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