Jitters over Raila turn up in Ukambani tour

Monday, July 12th, 2021 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta chats with Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki (fourth left) during the inspection tour of Thwake Dam in Makueni last week. The President was joined by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right), Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka and other leaders from Ukambani. Photo/PSCU

Mutuku Mwangangi @PitzPitah

The presence of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in last Friday’s tour of Ukambani region by President Uhuru Kenyatta has raised eyebrows among local political players.

 Raila made a surprise show-up at the first stop of the President’s tour at Thwake Multipurpose Dam in Makueni county where he hinted at a possible regrouping of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) leaders.

“Thank you for coming. We did not expect you here but God has enabled you to come to Ukambani,” Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) leader Kalonzo Musyoka told Raila, whose chopper touched down shortly after the President had landed.

 Raila’s imposing presence has opened a lid on the ongoing 2022 succession plans to market him as Uhuru’s successor. 

Notably, during the recent presidential tour of Nyanza region, the Head of State did not tag any of the Opposition heavyweights, including Kalonzo.

Presidential bid

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, a key Kalonzo lieutenant, told People Daily that  the ODM chief was invited by the three Ukambani governors, who are pushing his presidential bid in the region.

“None of us was aware he was coming. It was a surprise. I have heard that the governors extended the invitation to him, but I cannot confirm. There is a push by the governors for Kalonzo to support Raila,” said Mutula Jnr.

The calculated presence of Raila automatically watered down the impact of the host, Kalonzo, who was expected to hog the limelight and stamp his authority as the Ukambani kingpin.

 Kalonzo’s anger was manifested clearly in his body language throughout the busy day that saw Uhuru officially open  Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s office and a conference facility, which were not factored in the presidential itinerary earlier on. 

There has been jostling between the Wiper party boss and governors Charity Ngulu (Kitui), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Mutua.

Former Machakos Senator and United Democratic Alliance national chairman Johnstone Muthama observed that there was a foreseeable campaign to impose a Raila presidency.

 “They believe that President Uhuru can perform a miracle to give them the presidency but forgetting that the decision lies with Kenyans,” said Muthama.

Former Yatta MP and a key Kalonzo ally, Francis Mwangangi, maintained that   there was a push by some sections of Ukambani leaders to undercut Kalonzo at the national negotiation table.

 The group, according to Mwangangi, is working round-the-clock to force Kalonzo to work under Raila thus blocking his presidential dream.

Kalonzo had last month vowed that he will rather return to his home in Tseikuru than support Raila for the presidency.

“We have agreed as a region that our person is Kalonzo, we will not play second fiddle to anyone and running alone is not one of our options. We have a One Kenya Alliance in any case,” said Mwangangi.

Chama Cha Uzalendo secretary general Phillipe Sadja said the presence of Raila in the President’s visit meant that he (Raila) has a deal with the President and the three governors are part of it.

Known fact

“It is a known fact that the Ukambani governors are not in the same political axis with Kalonzo, simple.

The county bosses have embraced Raila as their alternative political god, who shall help them fulfill their ambitious political goals.

If Kalonzo undermines their political authority and interests, then they will go with one who will embrace them, Raila has done exactly that,” said Sadja.

Mwangangi’s school of thought is that Mt Kenya operatives are busy chatting succession agenda that will lock out both Raila and Kalonzo. 

He said the vote rich region had no business with  President Uhuru since he has completed his tenure and soon will be unveiling their choice without consulting him.

He cautioned the presidential candidates against waiting for the President’s endorsement.

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