Ford-K fight undermines Western Kenya unity bid

Friday, June 5th, 2020 00:00 |
Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli.

Emeka-Mayaka Gekara

Cracks continue to emerge in Western Kenya politics, further dampening any hopes of the much-hyped Luhya unity.

The latest are squabbles in Ford-Kenya which have split the party into two camps pitting Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula against a group led by Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi and party secretary general Eseli Simiyu.

The Eseli group has declared an ouster of Wetang’ula as party leader and replaced him with Wamunyinyi, forcing a swift protest by Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi in defence of the Bungoma senator.

Two camps have emerged in the push and pull that has characterised Western Kenya politics:  The group around trade unionist Francis Atwoli and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, which supports the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga.

Then there is the Mudavadi-Wetangula axis which has fallen out with Raila and ruled out a possible post-election alliance with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.

The two who teamed up with Raila in the National Super Alliance in the last election but fell out with the Orange Democratic Movement chief after the March 2018 Handshake have warned him to keep off  Western Kenya politics.

Wamunyinyi accuses Wetang’ula of being a puppet of Deputy President William Ruto and lacking ambition beyond Bungoma politics.

“Wetang’ula’s story is over. We don’t want a puppet. We don’t know where he is leading us to. 

He was chased away from Nasa by Raila. He does not talk to Uhuru.  He only meets with Mudavadi to massage his ego,” Wamunyinyi told People Daily.

Further, Wamunyinyi has accused Wetang’ula of working with politicians allied to Ruto such as Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, John Waluke and Chris Wamalwa of Kiminini.

He has also warned Wetang’ula to tread carefully or face disciplinary action that could see him expelled from the party.

The Ford Kenya coup came days after Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli, Oparanya and Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa were installed as the leaders to champion the interests of western Kenya during a meeting at Atwoli’s Kajiado home.

But in protest, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula said the coup which they claimed was engineered by “a leader in the Nasa coalition” was calculated to destabilise other members of the alliance.

Destabilise parties

 “I am aware that this mischief has been in the making for some time now. It is calculated to invade and destabilise all independent-minded political parties.

The mischief has been escalated at a number of meetings led by the leader of a Nasa member party whose objective is to destroy and dominate everyone. In this scheme, they are aided by the secretary-general of Cotu,”  said Mudavadi.

While the division has elicited the enduring debate over Luyha unity, some pundits have pointed out the real issue revolves around Nasa wars which have spilt over to the Mulembe nation.

An argument is emerging that Wetangula’s removal is linked  to a plot by the Nasa coalition partners keen to enter into new working relations with the ruling Jubilee Party

Nasa is composed of Ford Kenya, ODM, ANC, Wiper Party of  Kalonzo Musyoka and the Isaac Ruto-led Chama Cha Mashinani.

People in political camps associated with both Wetang’ula and Mudavadi strongly believe that their Nasa co-principals Raila, Ruto and Kalonzo are so determined to strike a post-election pact with Jubilee, with the possibility of some of them and their followers being co-opted into government but are afraid to state so in public and are therefore exploring other avenues of exit.

Among the options, it is said, is imposing leaders in political party leaders that would buy into the idea of quitting Nasa without any qualms.

 They argue that since the Nasa coalition agreement demands that the outfit stands dissolved once three of them write to the Registrar of Political parties declaring resignation of their membership, the trio has been ready and willing to leave but none of them has had the guts to take the legal path.

“What happened in Ford Kenya has nothing to do with its leadership. It has to do with the problems in Nasa.

If you recall, Raila who in all practical purposes joined Jubilee in 2018 recently declared that Nasa is dead while on their part Kalonzo and Ruto have publicly announced their readiness to work with Jubilee where it is claimed they have been promised plum State appointments.

However, none of them wants to take the initiative to write to the Registrar to take their position on that matter legally binding.

To achieve this, Raila must get rid of the top leadership of the two Luhya-led parties (ANC and Ford Kenya) and the best hatchet man to execute the assignment is the ever willing Atwoli assisted by Eugene, Wangamati and (Kakamega Governor Wycliffe) Oparanya,” said a source close to  Wetang’ula.

But Wamunyinyi dismissed the claim saying their motive was to revitalise the party. He was dismissive of the Luyhia unity talk as misplaced saying members of the community have always been united. -Additional reporting by Yusuf Masibo.

More on National