BBI forums widen rift between Kalonzo, Ukambani governors

Thursday, January 30th, 2020 00:00 |
Governors Alfred Mutua, Charity Ngilu and Kivutha Kibwana consult at a past event. Photo/PD/FILE

Mutuku Mwangangi

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and the three Ukambani governors are sharply divided over the control of the Building Bridges Initiative campaigns. 

The split has resulted in the planning of parallel BBI rallies in the region, one convened by Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu in her county on Saturday while Kalonzo is organising another event scheduled for February 7 in Makueni.

On Monday, Ngilu held a meeting with 13 legislators from the region, including Senator Enoch Wambua, to plan the Lower Eastern BBI consultative meeting to be held at the Kitui Stadium.

“We urge our people to turn up in large numbers to be part and parcel of this noble initiative so that as a region we can formally register and amplify our support for the BBI,” she said after the meeting.

MPs who attended Ngilu’s meeting were Makali Mulu (Kitui Central), Dan Maanzo (Makueni), Boni Mwalika (Kitui Rural), Patrick Makau (Mavoko), Kitui Woman Rep Irene Kasalu, Charles Nguna (Mwingi West), Joshua Mwalyo (Masinga), Paul Nzengu (Mwingi North), Stephen Mule (Matungulu), Gideon Mulyungi (Mwingi Central), Joshua Kimilu (Kaiti) and Kithua Nzambia (Kilome).

Strategy meeting

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana is expected to unveil the region’s views and demands during the Saturday meeting in Kitui.

Last week, Kalonzo held a BBI strategy popularisation meeting with MCAs from the three counties at a Machakos hotel, without involving the governors.

Speaking at a BBI rally in Mombasa last Saturday, Kalonzo said BBI should be a vehicle to promote Kenya’s diversity.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua is, however, worried about the division among the region’s leaders and has proposed that the parallel rallies be rescheduled to give the leaders time to come up with a common stand.

He called for a meeting bringing together Kalonzo, the three governors, senators and MPs from the region to thrash out differences and agree on a joint BBI meeting.

Presidential ambitions

“We will be sending the wrong message when we hold separate regional meetings based on political followings to discuss the same issue.

We need a regional meeting which brings all of us together to champion for BBI on behalf of our people, regardless of our future plans,” said Mutua in a statement.

Ngilu, Kibwana and Mutua are at loggerheads with Kalonzo who they accuse of playing “kingpin” politics. 

The three governors have been fighting to wrest the mantle of Ukambani politics from Kalonzo’s grip. 

Mutua and Kibwana, who are serving their final term, have declared intention to vie for the presidency in 2022.

Former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama is leading a third faction which has vowed to campaign against BBI in Ukambani.

“BBI has been hijacked by the power brokers to divide Kenyans into ethnic groupings,” said Muthama.

Muthama, who was speaking at a burial in Kibwezi recently, said BBI was geared towards achieving interests of a few individuals.

Muthama’s new ally, former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile, accused government of using State agencies to suppress those opposed to the BBI.

New leader

Muthama, who for a long time has been Kalonzo’s close ally, has also declared that he will convene a meeting to pick a new leader for the community, accusing the Wiper leader of being a coward.

Some MPs from the region including Victor Munyaka (Machakos), Nimrod Mbai (Kitui), Flabian Kyule (Kitui) and Vincent Musyoka (Mwala), who are allied to Deputy President William Ruto, have also claimed that BBI is a well-choreographed scheme to help Opposition leader Raila Odinga ascend to power.

Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta are the principals behind the BBI campaign arising from their March 9, 2018 Handshake which ended dispute about the outcome of the 2017 presidential election.

More on National