The flurry of political activities by MPs from Western Kenya has created more confusion in a region known for divisions and endless bickering among leaders.
First, a group of 17 MPs held three successive meetings to campaign for registration of six million voters, an agenda that was received well judging from the large number of people who attended. Secondly, a group of 32 MPs seeking to chart the socio-economic agenda of the region appears to be running parallel to the vote seeking team.
Thirdly is Ford-Kenya, a party pushing for the candidature of Moses Wetang’ula for the presidency in 2017 through the CORD ticket. And lastly, former Vice President Musalia Mudavadi is also advancing his presidential hopes through his newly registered Amani Coalition (ANC) political party.
Ford Kenya youth leaders, through Wetangula’s patronage, have also morphed into the Western Kenya Youth Network to mobilise votes for the Senate Leader of Minority.
But amid these activities reigns confusion and general mistrust among the leaders. First, Lugari MP Ayub Savula invited all MPs to the first meeting after he mooted the idea to push for the registration of six million voters, but only 16 turned up.
“The campaign was well received and I think that is where all our energies should go instead of engaging in other issues that will not give the region bargaining power despite our numbers,” said Savula.
Those supporting the collection of signatures are Alfred Sambu (Webuye), Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo), Paul Otuoma, Reginalda Wanyonyi, Mary Emmase, Janet Nangabo, Injendi Malulu, Davis Wafula and Yusuf Chanzu.
Others are Ben Shinali, Geofrey Odanga, Wilbur Otichilo, John Bunyasi, Benard Washiali, Charles Gimose and Boniface Otsiula.
The MPs have slated other meetings for Bungoma and Trans Nzoia, and later, major towns around the country that have sizable population of people from Mulembe land. Apart from the Luhya community, the MPs have also roped in leaders from the Sabaot and Ateso communities.
CORD leader Raila Odinga is, however, skeptical of the MPs’ ability to mobilise the six million votes.
“The total population of the community is about that number, so the possible achievable vote in both Western and other areas is about three million,” Raila told The Standard on Sunday on Friday.
The former PM foresees that the highest number the community can register for the 2017 elections is 2.5 million voters.
MPs from the region said Raila urged them to go ahead with the voter registration campaign. “It is a god idea, but first we need to deal with the issue of ID cards because young people from the region are denied the crucial documents over claims that they are from border constituencies,” said Raila.
Savula has also had to deny reports that he is mobilising the numbers at the behest of Deputy President William Ruto.
But as the Savula group campaigns for registration, Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba is pushing another agenda for socio-economic development.
Namwamba has convened two closed-door meetings for 32 MPs to discuss the agenda, but little has been said on how the noble idea can be actualised without government input.
So far, the initiative, popularly known as the Western Parliamentary Caucus, has received a cold shoulder from Ford Kenya leaders led by Wetang’ula, who have been sending nominated MP Patrick Wangamati to the meetings.
The Namwamba group has been visiting institutions in the region and have so far been to Mudete Tea Factory in Vihiga County where they sought to establish the problems affecting the factory.
But Savula has dismissed the group, arguing it was formed to support Namwamba on the corruption claims that dodged the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) when he was chair.
“We have met three times and every time there has been no agenda apart from us visiting factories without coming up with workable solutions,” said Savula.
Early this year, the MPs had mooted forming a regional bank to empower business people financially through provision of loans. But the idea collapsed over disagreements on how money was to be raised.
Wangwe said the region’s leaders must set aside personal ambitions to achieve the larger goal. “Those eyeing the presidential ticket should come down to elected MPs and other leaders and seek to unite all of them. Working at cross-purpose will kill our dream even before it begins to take shape,” he told The Standard on Sunday.