By Allan Tawai.
On May 8, Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama announced that he had quit Wiper and that he will not defend his Senate seat. The move was a culmination of a struggle in the party that threatens its hold on the Ukambani region and with it the National Super Alliance (NASA’s) fortunes in the August election.
The troubles in NASA presidential running mate Kalonzo Musyoka’s party also have the potential to give Jubilee a foothold in his eastern stronghold. Although Mr. Musyoka has blamed the ruling party Jubilee for enticing Wiper MPs to defect, accusations of favoritism and even nepotism are featuring prominently in the wrangling.
Wiper party has gone through three phases of wrangling and defections since the 2013 General Election. First was Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, who rebelled and later formed his own Maendeleo Chap Chap party, then followed the rebellion by six MPs – Joe Mutambu (Mwingi Central), John Munuve (Mwingi North), Richard Makenga (Kaiti), Regina Ndambuki (Kilome) and Kisoi Munyao (Mbooni), all who defected to Jubilee.
Musyoka accuses Jubilee of influencing the defections to undermine him and he has vowed to teach the rebels a lesson on August 8.
But it is his latest fallout with party founders David Musila, the party chairman, and Mr. Muthama, a self-declared key financier of the party that must be giving him the most headache as it has served to embolden the rebels.
Both Musila and Muthama started having problems with Kalonzo Musyoka as the NASA principals lobbied for the presidential ticket.
Mr. Musila, Mr. Muthama and their Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo Junior, seemed ready to accept a NASA candidate who would guarantee victory and not necessarily their party boss.
But Kalonzo’s diehard supporters in Wiper, led by Minority Leader in the National Assembly Francis Nyenze, threatened that he will leave NASA and contest on his own if he is not picked as the candidate. Worried that the Wiper leader might just do that, the three senators warned that he would be on a highway to political oblivion if he did that because he will face a major rebellion in Ukambani.
It is at this time that Musyoka seemed to have doubted the loyalty of these three pillars of his party and moved to shore up his support in the region. This he did by bringing into the Wiper fold other leaders like former Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu of Narc, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana of Muungano party, former MPs Ms. Wavinya Ndeti of Chama Cha Uzalendo and Mutua Katuku of Peoples Trust Party.
Governor Kibwana alongside another newcomer, former Garissa Town MP Farah Maalim, became deputy party leaders and, therefore, some ranks above Mr. Muthama in the party hierarchy.
However, the challenge for Musyoka was that the two senators had major interests in the three Ukambani counties governor positions.
Mr. Musila wanted to run in Kitui against Mr. Musyoka’s favorite Julius Malombe, the incumbent, while Mr. Muthama had allies he supported, deputy governor Bernard Kiala in Machakos and real estate mogul David Masika in Makueni.
It is their loss to Kalonzo’s allies – Dr. Malombe, Prof Kibwana, and Ms. Ndeti – that triggered their acrimonious exit from the party with Mr. Musila resigning to run as an independent candidate. Now as the countdown to August 8 gathers speed, the turmoil in Wiper is a major headache for NASA.