Gentleman’s arrangement haunts Luhya politicians
Dennis Lumiti and Yusuf Masibo
A gentleman agreement between politicians from the north and southern parts of Kakamega County has returned to haunt aspirants eyeing the governorship in the next elections.
In neighbouring Bungoma, members of the Sabaot community are crying foul accusing governor Wycliffe Wangamati’s administration of sideling them, an issue that promises to feature prominently in the next polls.
In Kakamega, politicians from the two blocs are caught up in a war of words as the campaigns enter the homestretch.
A section of those from the northern bloc claim that there was an agreement between leaders from the two zones, stating that they occupy the governorship and Senate seats for two terms on a rotational basis.
“Leaders entered into an agreement in 2013 where we resolved to occupy the two positions on rotational basis,” said Lugari MP Ayub Savula who is one of those in the race to succeed Oparanya.
“That is why the voters rejected former Senator Boni Khalwale when he tried to dislodge Oparanya in 2017,” he added.
Kakamega has 12 constituencies zoned into two. The Southern zone comprises of Butere, Mumias West, Mumias East, Matungu and Khwisero while the Northern zone has Ikolomani, Shinyalu, Lurambi, Navakholo, Malava, Lugari and Likuyani.
But leaders from the southern bloc dismiss the claims saying there was no such pact.
“Who are these leaders and where did they meet and agree? How can two or three people meet in a room and decide for the over a million residents of Kakamega County,?” posed former Cabinet Minister Amukowa Anangwe who is also in the race.
Anangwe said he should not be denied the chance to serve as the second governor of Kakamega, just because he hails from Butere constituency and Southern bloc like Oparanya.
Out of the 10 aspirants eyeing the seat, four: Savula, Khalwale, Deputy Governor Philip Kutima and businessman Leonard Shimaka hail from the northern side.
So is Senator Cleophas Malalah who, however, only settled in Milimani, Lurambi Constituency but is originally from the Southern bloc.
The rest, Anangwe, Kenya Electricity Transmission Company boss Fernandes Barasa, his Metropol counterpart Sam Omukoko, Kakamega County Assembly Clerk Laban Atemba and businessman Michael Osundwa hail from the Southern bloc.
Each of the aspirants is eyeing a running mate from a different bloc in a bid to shore up support.
In Bungoma, members of the Sabaot community living in Mt Elgon feels shortchanged by Governor Wangamati after he denied them the slot of deputy governor.
The community which is minority in the county claims that they are not part of the Wangamati administration after he appointed his deputy from his Bukusu community.
The Former governor who is also Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka had appointed his deputy from the Sabot community.
Masuti Chemasueti says that as the community they have a right to be given the position of deputy governor basing on their population.
‘’We are 200,000 people from the Sabaot community, with this number we definitely deserve number two position’’ said Chemasueti.
He said although they did not vote for Wangamati overwhelmingly during the 2017 elections, that was not reason enough to deny them deputy governor,s slot.
“‘Wangamati only got 7,000 votes,from Mt Elgon but this does not warrant him to deny us number two slot in his government,’’ he noted.
Political analyst Philip Murutu who hails from the region however disputed the Sabaot claim to the seat saying it was given to the Tachoni sub-group which is equally a minority.
According to Murutu, no governor candidate can win in Bungoma without accommodating minorities.
‘’In Bungoma it is either negotiated democracy or no democracy. It will be difficult for anyone to win a critical seat such us the governorship without entering a power arrangement that accommodates minorities even as the Bukusu remain majority, ‘’ said Murutu.