New cracks over NASA flagbearer
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka moved with speed to stem simmering rebellion in his backyard. Barely a day after the colourful unveiling of National Super Alliance (NASA) 2017 line-up, a revolt erupted in Kalonzo’s Wiper Democratic Movement Friday. In a twin assault on the party’s leader, Wiper’s highest ranking official in the National Assembly Francis Nyenze disowned Thursday’s power-sharing arrangement which placed Kalonzo as the running mate of presidential candidate Raila Odinga.
At about the same time, the party’s long-time financier and co-chair of the NASA national coordinating committee, Mr Johnstone Muthama, was reported to be preparing to leave the party owing to irreconcilable differences with his party leader. But Mr Kalonzo, speaking at Ole Sereni Hotel in Nairobi, dismissed Nyenze’s statement as “utter nonsense” and said Wiper is in NASA to stay and they were part and parcel of the negotiations.
He threatened to ‘dewhip’ Nyenze if he continues rocking the party from within. “We discussed everything about the party, and even the Deputy Part Leader Farah Maalim is versed with the details of the deal,” Mr Musyoka said, adding then he is “the party leader and the decision is in the best interests of the party.” He asked in what capacity Nyenze was speaking since he does not hold any position in the party and is just the Minority Leader in parliament and was part of the negotiation team that midwifed the deal.
Earlier, at a funeral in Kangudo, Machakos County, Mr Musyoka asked the Kamba community to support him and accept his number two position under NASA. “You should ignore leaders who are being used by politicians from outside the region to split our vote in the August election,” he said. No-show These events took place a day after party Chairman David Musila resigned from the party, claiming that Kalonzo had rigged him out of the Kitui gubernatorial contest in favour of incumbent Julius Malombe.
Musila said senior politicians from Wiper’s stronghold in Ukambani had boycotted a rally to announce NASA’s flag-bearer at Uhuru Park because they were dissatisfied with the party leadership. “Did you see Senator Muthama and other leaders at Uhuru Park? Something is wrong with the party. The leadership should look down and ask why members are protesting, leaving and not attending events.
There is an internal breakdown of order and Wiper will become a small party in Ukambani, as new ones come up,” said Nyenze. But Mr Musyoka said there is no cause for alarm. If it was the issue of Machakos gubernatorial seat, the will be primaries tomorrow, pitting Ben Kiala against Wavinya Ndeti. “Peter Mathuki will be Wavinya’s running mate,” Mr Musyoka said, and added that, as for Musila, all is not lost as we will get for him a position in the party.” Speaking as “a senior member of Wiper and Kamba leader”, Nyenze said the Kamba community got a raw deal from the line-up unveiled at Uhuru Park on Thursday.
He said a Raila-on-top ticket came as a shocker to both the Wiper leadership and to the community. “We cannot pretend that all is well. We have got to say the truth and shame the devil. Our people are calling us asking us ‘what is this’? They are asking us hard questions and we have no answers. There is a lot of bad feeling in Ukambani,” Nyenze said. Neither he — as a lead negotiator for Wiper — nor Musila, as a party chairman, appeared to have any clue as to details of the agreement Wiper signed up to. They said they needed to be fully briefed on its content. Musila, who has since left the party, publicly rubbished Nyenze’s entreaties to reconsider his position.
He said he had a reputation — built over 50 years of public service — to protect. “Muendelee na ghasia zenu (You continue with your rubbish),” he said while waving off the offer. When we spoke to Hassan Omar, however, he dismissed their concerns as baseless in light of the fact that Wiper is not purely a Kamba community affair. He said he signed the coalition deal as Wiper SG and its spokesman. The Mombasa senator said the high-stakes placed on the party primaries in Ukambani region is both understandable and manageable if aggrieved parties took time and lodged appeals.
“We appreciate that our party has a significant support base in Ukambani, but that’s not to say it’s a Kamba party. I highly suspect he was speaking for Kambas because he doesn’t speak for the party. The fact of the matter is that we made the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good and we were satisfied that it was the best thing to do,” Omar said. Omar said he was unaware of Muthama’s decision to leave. However, a source told Saturday Standard that Muthama’s days in Wiper are countable. Negative vibrations “He is unable to countenance the negative vibrations of Wiper leadership anymore.
It’s highly regrettable that he’s quitting the party he has done so much for,” a source told Saturday Standard. Muthama did not attend Thursday’s unveiling of the NASA team at Uhuru Park. He has also missed out on all key Wiper events in the last few months, including the party event where Kalonzo was cleared to run for presidency on a Wiper ticket. Wiper insiders say Muthama feels isolated from the party leader ever since he was accused of working to advance a Raila ticket for NASA. He also feels new party “sensations” like Omar have supplanted him from a position of influence.
To add insult to the injury, Muthama’s political pointmen in Ukambani were sidelined in the Wiper nominations. His pointman in Machakos gubernatorial contest Bernard Kiala was left hanging after Kalonzo’s side struck a deal with rival Wavinya Ndeti and handed her a direct ticket. Huge sacrifice “Let him go if he wishes to. He has held people to ransom for too long and betrayed the party leader for so long. When you attend a funeral of Senator Boy Juma Boy and publicly say he told you on his death-bed to ensure Raila clinches the ticket, and yet you are the one representing the party leader’s interests in the negotiations, then what are you telling the people?” Kitui Senate hopeful Enock Wambua said.
Wambua said even though Muthama had sacrificed a great deal for Wiper, his place and position in the party is dispensable. He said at a critical time as this, Wiper cannot tag grumbling soldiers to the battlefield. Although Muthama was set on announcing his move yesterday, party insiders say the intervention by Raila saved the day.
The two held private consultations before Muthama was persuaded not to make an announcement that he was leaving. Our attempts to reach Muthama were futile as he was engaged in consultations for the better part of the afternoon and evening. His colleague Nyenze did not waver, however. He told a press conference that Wiper got a raw deal and that Raila will be a hard sell in Ukambani.