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Infighting threatens Uhuru Kenyatta’s Ukambani vote hunt

by 16/09/2017 17:59:00 0 comments 1 Views
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Political infighting among Jubilee leaders in Ukambani is threatening to derail President Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaigns for the October 17 repeat election.

Three factions have emerged among the President’s campaigners, all seeking to have a bigger say in Jubilee Party affairs, including State appointments in case Mr Kenyatta wins a second term.

The differences played out openly on Monday, when the President and his deputy William Ruto hosted a delegation of grassroots leaders from Ukambani at State House Nairobi. The event exposed deep-seated suspicions and backstabbing fuelling the intense supremacy wars.

One camp that seems to find favour with the President has three Kamba MPs who were elected on Jubilee Party tickets — Mr Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town), Ms Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South) and Mr Nimrod Mbai (Kitui East) — and Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.

The group also includes tycoon Peter Muthoka, powerful Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma, Kenya’s envoy to Turkey Kiema Kilonzo and Sports Kenya chairman Fred Muteti. Mr Muteti was also the secretary-general of Mr Ruto’s United Republican Party, now defunct.


The second group consists of Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopha Mailu, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and a host of senior civil servants.

The third group coalesces around Jubilee parliamentary candidates who lost last month’s elections. It is led by former Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu.

With barely one month to the high-stakes repeat presidential election, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto are said to be unhappy with the infighting and vicious supremacy wars that are likely to rock the Jubilee boat from within.

The group led by Mr Muthoka and Dr Juma maintains that it delivered the three parliamentary seats and 170,000 votes the President got from Ukambani and wants to be seen as an asset compared to the “bunch of losers”.

This group has added to its ranks former Wiper party chairman and ex-Kitui Senator David Musila and a host of Kamba politicians from other parties.

At the same time, Mr Mutambu and former MPs Kisoi Munyao, Katemi Makenga and Regina Ndambuki have positioned themselves to reap from their closeness with Mr Kenyatta and blaming the Muthoka group of messing up the Jubilee campaigns in the region.


In an apparent reference to Mr Muthoka and Ms Juma, Mr Mutambu said non-politicians should not be generals in a political war because they may not understand the local dynamics.

“Businessmen and civil servants are the best in mobilising resources and data but not the actual campaigns. Those who have run for political office should be tasked with leading Jubilee’s hunt for votes,” said Mr Mutambu.

However, Mr Muthoka, said he was approached by the same leaders way before the August elections to help coordinate various campaign teams, especially in resource mobilisation and reaching out to key groups such as the clergy and clan elders.|

“I have stuck my neck out for the President in this campaign not for purposes of seeking cheap publicity but to build a strong united voice for the Kamba. Actually, they are the ones who came looking for me” he said.

He said the infighting was painting the Kamba in bad light and defeating the broader agenda of rallying the community behind Mr Kenyatta’s quest for a second term

During the State House visit, the political differences were manifest when Dr Mailu was not given a chance to address the gathering despite being the most senior Kamba son in government.

It is not clear yet why ambassador Kilonzo, who was the master of ceremony, overlooked the Health CS right before the President. Sources told the Sunday Nation that the group is accusing Dr Mailu of concentrating more on ministry work than helping in the campaigns.


The CS, one the President’s trusted lieutenants in Ukambani, who was fished out of the corporate world where he was the chief executive of Nairobi Hospital, is finding himself in the crossfire of local politics, with his antagonists said to be eyeing his Cabinet job.

However, former Kibwezi MP Philip Kaloki said it was wrong to bypass the CS but downplayed the political differences. He said every leader, including businessmen and those who lost in the elections, has a crucial role to play and there is no time for squabbling.

“CS Mailu and all of us are committed to the Jubilee cause. No one anticipated that there will be a repeat election and the small teething issues have been sorted out and we’re ready to hit the ground running,” said Prof Kaloki.

On the face of it, the bone of contention among the rival factions is the alleged confusion caused by parallel political campaigns in the August elections, where party agents were mismanaged and left unpaid.

However, beneath the political wrangling that saw President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto step in to close the rift are other underlying factors, including competition for access to the President and control of Jubilee campaign resources.

Dr Isaac Kalua, one of the leading Jubilee mobilisers in Kitui, said there is urgent need to stop the negative energy that could cost the President votes at a time there is growing goodwill for Mr Kenyatta.

“No family has ever grown stronger by fighting itself. We must put our act together and give the President a resounding victory,” he said.

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