Changing Nature of Civil Society and Elections in Africa
Ronald Elly Wanda, November 9 2010
The recent awakening wave of civil society in Africa, especially the confrontational and oppositional segment, is in large measure, a response to the declining political capacity of the African state. Excitedly triggered by the realization slowly taking place on the continent that democratization will not come from periodic elections, which political parties have for so long mistakenly viewed as their exclusive domain of operation. Political parties in Africa, instead of being a force for democratisation, have instead been empty vehicles for tribal barons or cabals of kleptocrats without a committed agenda for reform. In East as in West Africa, political parties have been instruments of convenience for powerful individual politicians. Rather than help forge a national consciousness they’ve led to further fragmentation of the African state.
Thankfully, of late in Africa, various sectors of civil society are becoming nurseries for alternatives political leadership and clean politics. At the centre of which one finds efforts to address persistent questions of marginalisation, discrimination and exclusion- with demands such as “individual must be given capacity to exercise their vote free from external constraints or threats of non-provision or withdrawal of resources from non compliance with political party demands” becoming a common feature.
Sadly, equally taking place on the continent is a deceptive electoral phenomena. From Freetown to Cape Town, Kigali to Kumasi, there seems to be a revitalised resurgence of both popular and elite concern with issues revolving around democracy with referenda and electioneering visibly discernable. It is a prominence that has not been seen since the heady early days of independence in the 1960s or the crusade for multipartism in the early 1990s.
While elections are often a poor guide to a country’s overall state of democracy and civil liberties, and a mere number of them can be deceptive, of late it has gained currency by becoming a regular episode sometimes even in the unlikeliest of places on a continent once dubbed “Hopeless” because of the regularity of its coups and civil wars. In recent years, the culture of elections seems to have infected even the most known of dictatorial leaders-Presidents al-Bashir, Mugabe and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia alongside others.
In August, Rwanda’s incumbent Paul Kagame was returned to power with a landslide 93 percent; while on the same month Kenya’s referendum on a new constitution was approved by 67 percent of votes with 30 percent objecting; In July, voters on the semi-autonomous Tanzanian island of Zanzibar voted 66.4 percent in favour of a referendum designed to end years of political strife that had marred previous elections while 33.4 percent voted against the power-sharing proposal supported by the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party (CCM) and leaders of the main opposition Civic United Front party (CUF) in time for the October elections. June saw Burundians also going to the polls.
Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who has ruled the country for 26 years, plans to ask the Ugandan electorate, yet again, for another term next year. In Egypt, the question of replacing Hosni Mubarak come next year’s elections, has taken on increased urgency amid concerns about the aging president's health following surgery in Germany earlier this year. The ruling National Democratic Party seems to be grooming Gamal Mubarak (Hosni’s son), a 46-year-old investment banker turned politician to succeed his 82-year-old father, who has ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years.
Meanwhile in Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan is preparing himself for the country’s elections expected in January, where it has emerged that former Nigerian vice-president Atiku Abubakar and former military leader Ibrahim Babangida are to participate. The presidential nomination by the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) is likely to be contentious owing to an unwritten rule that power should rotate between Nigeria's Christian south and Muslim north every two terms. President Jonathan’s predecessor, Yar'Adua who died during his first term, was a northerner, so the next term should be held in reserve for a northern Nigerian.
In Guinea, following two decades of dictatorial rule by Lansana Conté, the army seized power after his death two years ago and has promised a return to civilian rule after elections that they’ve promised soon and in which they have vowed not to contest. The troubled semi-autonomous region of Somaliland has followed Ethiopia in subjecting its citizens to the ongoing electric circuit of elections in Africa. By the end of the year, 48 African countries would have held a referendum of some sort or gone to the polls for a concoction of local, regional or national elections, leading The Economist recently to conclude that “it is a big year for the African voter. The electoral calendar has never been so crowded”.
And indeed, albeit with slight trepidation, one could be tempted to go a step further than the international weeklymagazineand describe, fallaciously, the present developments as constituting a new epoch in African history- an “electoral wind of change” blowing across the continent.
A hasty look at several recent polls shows that too often African referenda and elections are just a travesty. In Burundi the incumbent, Pierre Nkurunziza, with the opposition boycott, won unopposed 92% of the vote, while in neighboring Rwanda, Paul Kagame secured an amazing 93 percent, in spite of accusations by international observers of also shutting out opposition. In Ethiopia those opposed to Meles Zenawi’s ruling party won just a mere two out of a possible 547 seats.
While in Sudan, Africa’s largest country, the size of a quarter of the United States, Mr Bashir won against an opposition that had also largely boycotted the event. Sudan is expected to hold a referendum in January 2011 in the southern part of the country, which will decide whether the vast oil and mineral-rich state, whose political and economic fortunes have largely been determined by the Arab ruling elite in the north – remains united or splits into two distinct countries: the predominantly Moslem and Arab north and the Christian, black south. The irony of it all though, is – while the rest of the country’s population of 35 million holds its breath – this momentous decision will only be arrived at by 51% of the current population living in the Southern part, where there are still problems identifying those legible to cast the decisive ballot.
Also boundaries near lucrative oil fields meant to be demarcated before the referendum are yet to be delineated, and President Bashir's party has recently indicated that it is in no mood to allow the referendum to take place until the internal border dispute is resolved. In Egypt, the question of replacing Hosni Mubarak come next year’s elections, has taken on increased urgency amid concerns about the aging president's health following surgery in Germany earlier this year. The ruling National Democratic Party seems to be grooming Gamal Mubarak (Hosni’s son), a 46-year-old investment banker turned politician to succeed his 82-year-old father, who has ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years.
Big Man Syndrome
Too often Africa’s big men still find a way to stay put, regardless of voters’ preference. For instance, just before Sudanese went to the polls in April, President Omar al-Bashir invested a great deal of time and money in ensuring that there could be only one outcome. Constituencies were comprehensively gerrymandered. Fake parties were created with names that sounded very similar to the real opposition, in order to confuse the largely illiterate voters. In Kenya, President Mwai Kibaki who clang to power after the elections of 2007 and Zimbabwe’s hard-man Robert Mugabe who also refused to go after a clear verdict against him in 2008, triggered widespread violence in both countries; both eventually accepted power-sharing agreements with the opposition as a face saving formula.
The riggers’ sophistication or lack of is testament not just to their determination to hold on to power, but also to African voters’ growing insistence on having a say in their governance and democratic process. The post election violence witnessed by Zimbabwe, threats of violence in South Africa, Ethiopia in 2005, and the furious “Kibaki asibaki” orchestras in Kenya in 2007, are constant reminders of the need for ‘free and fair elections’ whose results are incontestable, and are respected by all citizens and institutions of democracy.
In modern democratic systems of representative governance, that most African countries are struggling to emulate, elections are periodic contests which determine the next set of rulers in a nation state. In many ways, while the notion of a free and fair election is subject to numerous interpretations, in Africa the majority of elections are yet to be free let alone fair. Most countries in Africa have become formally democratic by legislating multiparty politics, holding elections establishing constitutional courts and adopting new constitutions just to satisfy the requirement for ‘policy-based lending’. The changes that have taken place have largely been cosmetic and outside the purview of donors, it is business as usual.
The regime of deprivation and abuse of civil and political rights effectively continue curtailing the participation of majority of Africans in the governance process. With only 15 percent of countries on the continent having adult literacy levels above 50 percent and abject poverty a norm for the majority of Africans, a fundamental rethinking of the meaning and role of referenda, elections and democracy in Africa ought to be necessary. For a start, the control of Electoral Commissions should reside with the legislature or judiciary rather than with the executive.
South Africa participatory and transparent process of appointing commissioners, which has worked well so far, ought to be emulated right across the continent. To reduce desperation and high stakes engendered by the ‘winner-takes-all’ politics, the first-past-the-post electoral system used in many African countries, should, if possible, be replaced by the Proportional Representation system, which guarantees more opportunities for power sharing and bargaining among competing parties. Otherwise, the postcolonial state will remain a fundamentally illiberal institution. The challenge for civil society in Africa must therefore be to cultivate a democratic environment by changing the predatory nature of the state first and then engage elections.
Ronald Elly Wanda is a Political scientist lecturing at Marcus Garvey Pan-African University, Mbale, Uganda.
Census and the question of tribe
By Biketi Kikechi and Ally Jamah, August 31 2010
Kenyans will today be given the withheld results of 2009 national population census, but one fact is already generating heat - the clustering of the results into tribes and numbers. The release by Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya, coming hot on the heels of the promulgation of the new Constitution, breaks the rule of the last census in 1999 in which the State did away with tribal clustering.
However, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics yesterday said this year, Kenyans will be told how many they are in terms of tribes, a fact criticised by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).
The wisdom of this decision may raise questions because of the proximity of 2012 elections, the ugly spectre of 2007’s disputed election and subsequent ethnic violence, as well as the fact that in last year’s counting exercise Kenyans had been told they reserved the right not to tell the enumerators their tribes.
"We know that information about tribe and religion is attracting controversy, but we urge Kenyans to interpret the information positively and responsibly," said KNBS’s Director of Population and Social Statistics Dr Collins Opiyo.
The last census held in 1999 did not reveal information on the two issues, while in the 1989 census, which was curiously released five years late, amid controversy and claims of manipulation, Kenyans had been broken down into ethnic groups.
In 1989, the Kikuyu community was listed as the most populous with 4.5 million (20 per cent) followed by Luhya with 3.08 million at 15 per cent, Luo 2.7 million at13 per cent, Kalenjin 2.5 million at 11.6 percent, and Kamba at 2.4 million or 11.5 per cent of the national tally.
The national debate on the 2009 census will also be characterised by questions on why it took the State a year to release the figures. This is because when the results were withheld last year, speculation went round they could have been held back for ‘doctoring’ because of some surprise growth in the number of certain communities - which in Kenya’s political arena has implications on elections.
The 1989 and 1999 census indicate that the country’s population has been growing by about 10 million annually, and the same trend appears to hold in the 2009 census.
Yesterday, National Integration and Cohesion Commission Mzalendo Kibunjia expressed shock that the Government was planning to release the figures based on tribe. "Why should anybody think of issuing national census on tribal lines? What do they want to achieve by doing that?" asked Kibunjia, whose Agenda Four commission was set up to facilitate and promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful co-existence between persons of different ethnic and racial communities in Kenya and to advice the Government on all aspects of ethic relations.
He said the new Constitution was taking Kenyans away from tribal thinking. He argued that releasing tribal numerical strengths might tempt some tribes to seek to dominate others in some sectors.
He said for the country to achieve total integration, tribalism in the civil service and other sectors must be addressed.
"I would rather not comment further until I confirm for sure the results are pegged on tribes," said a surprised Dr Kibunjia.
Despite the outcry, KNBS admitted information about the size of ethnic communities in Kenya as well as the number of followers of different faiths would be part of the results to be released.
"The two (sets of) figures attract interest because of their political value. It would be a breach of professionalism if we concealed that information from Kenyans despite the potential for misuse," Opiyo argued.
There was heated debate before the census began last year, on whether or not tribe and religion should be included in the list of questions, with some claiming it might worsen divisions in the country.
Questions are also still being asked why it has taken so long for the data to be made public. Unofficial results released by the Committee of Experts on Constitution Review last December indicated Kenya’s population stood at 39,634,056.
The results will attract deep scrutiny from Kenyans because of fears the long delay was a deliberate action by the Government to ‘doctor’ the results.
Stories abound the results were withheld after the population of a dominant tribe in North Eastern Province and another from Western Province grew by three and two-fold respectively during the enumeration exercise.
According to figures released by the CoE, the population of people originally from Central Province and Western Provinces is close — standing at 4.7 and 4.6 million respectively. CoE had explained it sourced the results from Interim Independent Boundary Review Commission, which in turn must have gotten it from either Ministry of Planning or KNBS. IIBRC needed the figures to guide its work on creation of the 80 new constituencies set out in the new constitution.
Questions are also being raised about the timing of the release immediately after the country promulgated the new Constitution, whose spirit was to tame negative ethnicity that in the past resulted in deadly clashes among communities.
The census data was supposed to have been released on December 31, last year, but nothing has been forthcoming till today.
The last census held in 1999, indicated that Kenya had a total population of 29,549,000 people, with a growth rate of 2.52 per cent. Those results were also released after a prolonged delay, without a proper explanation, leading to speculation and political debate.
Opposition parties accused the Government of deliberately withholding the results to rig the 2002 elections before the figures were made public.
The results were released on January 30, 2001 with Rift Valley having the highest number of people at 6,987,036, followed by Eastern (4,631,779), Nyanza (4,392,196), Central (3,724,159), Western (3,358,776), Coast (2,487,264), Nairobi (2,143,254) and North Eastern (962,143).
According to the new figures expected today, the cosmopolitan Rift Valley is again expected to be at the top with 10.2 million people, Eastern second with 6.1 million people, Nyanza third with 5.6 million, Central fourth with 4.7 million, Western fifth with 4.6 million, followed by both Coast and Nairobi with slightly over 3.4 million each, and lastly North Eastern with about 1.3 million.
Oparanya last week told The Standard the delay was meant to ensure the data gathered had been thoroughly scrutinised for mistakes.
The results may generate political interest ahead of 2012 Presidential elections given Kenya’s traditional ethnic rivalries and culture of ethnic-based political alliance building.
Kenya’s current annual population growth rate of 2.8 per cent is considerably higher than the World’s average of 1.2 per cent.
The population is projected to stand at 51.3 million in 2025 and 65 million in 2050. Last year’s was Kenya’s fifth census since 1963.
- Additional reporting by Beauttah Omanga
Constitution: 'No' team is all about perpetuating colonial-era land expropriation
By Barrack Muluka, July 24 2010
One hundred years ago today, a man called Charles Eliot was busy taking thousands of acres of land from our people in central Kenya and in the Rift Valley. He was giving it away to European settlers. Eliot arrived in Kenya in 1902 as the new British commissioner to the protectorate. The construction of the Kenya/Uganda Railway was complete and it was payback time. The railway must pay for its construction, never mind whatever other reasons had caused the British to engage in this very costly investment. Eliot, for whom your popular bread of the 1960s and 1970s was named, was the man to make the railway pay for itself.
From the outset, Eliot was clear in his mind. He wanted to create ‘a white man’s country’ in the new territory. This was also the time when Europe was toying with the idea of settling on the Uasin Gishu Plateau Jews escaping from pogroms in Romania and Russia. The British colonial office was also toying with another idea of causing India to colonise Kenya. Never mind that India was itself a British colony at the time. Then there was the thought that the country could be given to South African Boers.
It was as if the indigenous people of Kenya did not exist. If they existed, they did not matter. This essence is best captured and expressed in the words of Baroness Isak Denisen (aka Karen Blixen), for whom an upper class suburb has been named in Nairobi. She said: ‘When you have caught the rhythm of Africa it is the same in all its elements. What I learnt from the flora and fauna of the country was useful in my dealings with the natives.’
Suffice it to say that mindsets of this kind placed in motion unjust land relations, which the political elite have been most reluctant to correct from 1902 to date. Eliot himself had very low opinion of Africans. He would send to London a cable with the words: ‘The African is greedy and covetous enough . . . he is too indolent in his ways, and too disconnected in his ideas, to make any attempt to better himself, or to undertake any labour which does not produce a speedy visible result. His mind is far nearer the animal world than is that of the European or Asiatic, and exhibits something of the animal’s placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the stage he has reached.’
Now this was very cruel. But it justified the taking away of land from Africans and giving it to Europeans without any feeling of shame. Already, in 1896, the Land Acquisition Act allowed the administration to acquire any land compulsorily for the railway. Then there was a series of land ordinances all the way to 1930, which were virtually licences for the settler community to ride roughshod through our land, turning our people in central Kenya and in the Rift Valley into paupers on their own land and creating pressures whose impact we still feel today.
Such are some of the historical injustices that the National Land Commission in the Proposed Constitution is supposed to investigate and recommend appropriate redress to, as stated in Article 67 (e) of the draft. Historical land injustices obtain today because independence did not correct the land problem. Instead the independent State complicated the problem. The new rulers inherited the attitudes and methods of their predecessors, with the ordinary Kenyan as their new victim. From such seemingly minor land grabs as the misappropriation of a portion of Suguta Road in Nairobi’s Kileleshwa and, until recently, Processional Way between Nyerere Road and State House Nairobi, they have gone all the way to the stealing national parks and forests.
The good news is that in their arrogant indifference, these people often forgot to alienate and de-gazette the Government land they appropriated. Fancy their panic when they read where it is written in the Proposed Constitution, among others, at Article 61(a): ‘Public land is land which at the effective date was unalienated Government land as defined by an Act of Parliament in force at the effective date.’ This is a horror story to the culprits.
Put this together with Article 65 that limits land holding rights by foreigners who have enjoyed unjust privilege to hundreds of thousands of prime farm land and ranches in the country for a century. Finally Article 40(6) says the Constitution will not protect ‘any property that has been found to have been unlawfully acquired.’ You begin understanding why barefaced lies are told in broad daylight against the Proposed Constitution. The foreign heirs of the Charles Eliot largesse have come together with the independent State land barons under the banner of the Kenya Land Owners Association (Kela) to sponsor lies, propaganda and half truths against the search for a humane constitution and the quest to correct a 100-year-old historical wrongs because of unlawfully acquired land. That is why they have no fixed issue against the draft. Any straw that will help them defeat the Proposed Constitution is game.
Depending therefore on where they go, these propagandists shift from grievances against proposed counties to woes against same imaginary sex marriage and from there to abortion, to Kadhi courts and to myriad lies against the draft and against Kenya. When the history of our times is finally written, there will be those who will fit the bill of Charles Eliot’s uncharitable perceptions of Africa. Their descendants will not want to carry their names and memory into the future.
Tanzania more developed than Kenya
By Dr PLO Lumumba
Several years ago, former Tanzania President Julius Nyerere described Kenya as a man-eat-man society. This was in response to Jomo Kenyatta’s remark that Tanzania was a man-eat nothing-society. Today, our plight show that Nyerere was right. We have put premium on material things and sacrificed integrity and truth at the altar of primitive accumulation of material things.
Our country is tottering in political confusion due to ethnic hatred and pursuit of wealth by any means necessary. Conversely, Tanzania has and continues to demonstrate admirable maturity in the conduct of its social, political and - to some extent - economic affairs. A sampling of several affairs reveals the Kenya-Tanzania divide.
In the late 1980s when multi-party politics became the touchstone of democratisation, Tanzania embraced it through debate. In Kenya, we spilt blood during the ‘Saba Saba’ and ‘Nane Nane’ riots of 1991 before our political leadership surrendered to the people’s will.
When the first multi-party elections took place, Tanzania elected Ali Hassan Mwinyi without rancour. On our part, the 1992 elections, and every election since then, have been characterised by violence and cheating. Ethnicity has been the driving force.
Recently, with the advent of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), Tanzania democratised the election of Eala Members of Parliament through a transparent system. In Kenya, political patronage, ethnicity and even bribery, became the norm in determining nominees. Ultimately, we ended up washing our dirty political linen for all to see at the East African Court of Justice in Arusha.
On the corruption front, we have had scandal after scandal - the mega Goldenberg and Anglo-Leasing and many others that are never publicised. To cool public temperature and the donor community, we constitute commissions, where names are named, but nobody is punished. Instead, the putative culprits ask rhetorically: "Whose goats have we eaten?"
Recently, Tanzania once again showed Africa and Kenya the way. Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and two Cabinet colleagues resigned after they were mentioned in Parliament of being involved in corrupt deals. President Jakaya Kikwete accepted the resignations, dissolved the Cabinet and nominated Mr Mizengo Kayanza Pinda to take over from Lowassa, subject to parliamentary approval. Contrast this with our Anglo-Leasing scandal when President Kibaki had to ask ministers to step aside, but reinstated them due to pressure from their ‘communities’.
Mwinyi, who later became the President of Tanzania, resigned as Minister In-Charge of Prisons when a prisoner escaped. He took unprecedented moral responsibility. Contrast this with the commissioners of Kenya’s Electoral Commission, whose bungling of last years’ elections has led to civil unrest unprecedented in the country’s history. They have remained recalcitrant, with their chairman stating categorically that he will not resign.
As we rebuild our country, let us look to Tanzania for guidance on democracy, patriotism, integrity and humility, among other virtues. Let jealousy not stand in our way, yet we have a neighbour to learn from.
The writer is an advocate of the High Court and law lecturer
PNU swagger no more...
By Macharia Gaitho, Nairobi Oct 8 2007
I SPENT THE WEEKEND IN President Kibaki’s backyard. And what I found was completely different from the confident swagger in everyone just a month ago when the issue of a second term was raised. The confidence is gone. The realisation that President Kibaki can actually lose to Mr Raila Odinga is hitting home.
Many people are coming to think the unthinkable; that the President can actually be voted out of office. And worse; that the one seemingly poised to send him packing is the one they were told again and again is unelectable. Right now, it looks like the election is Mr Odinga’s to lose. He is ahead in every opinion poll and would seem to be gaining ground with every passing day.
But there is still the question of whether he might shoot himself in the foot with some careless statements and actions. It would be so easy at this stage to forget himself and play the rabid revolutionary than the statesman. There is the prospect of conflicting messages coming from all those who make the ODM Pentagon, especially in regard to such issues as majimboism and threats of punishment for past leaders.
There is also the galling over-exuberance exhibited by Mr Odinga’s supporters, including the angry and orchestrated responses, including threats, to even the slightest criticism of a candidate they confer upon God-like status. Those are some of the factors that may cause second thoughts about the Odinga candidacy.
In central Kenya, the worry is real, and not just among ordinary citizens. One senses the same feelings of defeat and confusion even among the politicians. The MPs and Cabinet ministers campaigning in Central Kenya are not talking about how easy it will be; but issuing dire warnings that the President could actually lose unless the voters came out in all their numbers to cast their votes.
Another common message is that failing to vote is actually a vote for the opposition. Central Kenya happens to be notorious for low voter turnouts. It is amusing, actually, to observe figures who not too long ago bestrode the landscape as if it was their personal real estate. Now they speak in whispers as they contemplate life on the other side. Reminds one of the worry and uncertainty that gripped powerful figures of the day in the last weeks of the Moi regime — people who had enjoyed two decades of untrammelled power.
The present lot, by contrast, have been in power for barely five years, and so it is hard to see why they even acquired an arrogance that suggested they would rule for life. Now the hard reality is hitting home, and it might well serve to galvanise President Kibaki’s campaign machinery into some campaign offensive.
IT WILL NOT BE EASY, AND IT WILL not just be a matter of throwing money aimlessly and misusing the levers of powers. The President badly needs to connect with the voters, and might just have left it too late after four years of a remote presidency. The confusion in the PNU alliance does not help either. Whoever came up with the idea that the President alone stands on the PNU ticket while parliamentary and civic candidates compete against each other on their respective party tickets must have been an enemy from within. That arrangement is a sure recipe for disaster.
The ODM wave spreads fanned by Mudavadi factor
Story by BENSON AMADALA, Vihiga, Sept 24 2007
ODM’s weekend rally in Kakamega rekindled the euphoria of the 2002 campaigns that propelled Narc to power. The ecstatic reception accorded ODM presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga could signal a change of heart among party supporters after former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi failed to clinch the party’s ticket to run for presidency. Doubt had, before the weekend, persisted as to whether voters in the province would support ODM if Mr Mudavadi failed to get the nomination.
Mr Odinga kicked off his campaign in Kakamega and later proceeded to the neighbouring Vihiga District which is Mr Mudavadi’s political backyard for another successful campaign meeting at Mbale Town.
Mr Odinga was accompanied by Mr Mudavadi, Mr Najib Balala and Joseph Nyaga. The ODM leaders later retreated to Mr Mudavadi’s rural home at Mululu village where they spent the night before taking their campaign to Kericho. Going by what happened at the weekend, there is a strong indication that voters in the region are likely to back Mr Odinga for presidency. ODM got a boost in their campaigns after assistant minister for Information David Were and several councillors joined the party.
The defection by Matungu MP and Kakamega mayor John Khakabo is perhaps a sign of things to come as the campaign intensifies. There is speculation that more MPs from the region are waiting for the opportune moment to join the ODM bandwagon. ODM appears to have helped heal the political woes that have bedevilled Mr Mudavadi since his rejection in the 2002 General Election.
The Lang’ata MP picked Mr Mudavadi as his running mate after he won the ODM ticket during party presidential nominations at Kasarani last month. Mr Odinga and his team must have got more than they anticipated. Elders from Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley and Coast provinces were at hand to shower them with blessings. The ODM team was enthusiastically received in Kakamega. The leaders addressed one of the largest gatherings ever at Muliro grounds. Party supporters trooped in from far as far as Teso, Busia and Mt Elgon districts for the rally. Mr Odinga said his decision to be in Kakamega had a symbolic significance: “I decided to head home (Kakamega) to get blessings from my people before taking the ODM campaigns to other parts of the country,” he said.
The Lang’ata MP explained that he was relative of the revered Wanga king, Nabongo Mumia, and had strong roots among the Luhya community. From the look of things, ODM is out to capitalise on the euphoria sweeping the region. The region witnessed a flurry of political activity last week. Before the ODM team’s arrival, President Kibaki had been in the province for four days. His campaign tour took him to Bungoma, Teso Busia, Teso and Lugari districts.
Battling for the region’s votes are President Kibaki, Mr Odinga and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka of ODM Kenya. With the battle lines being drawn, it remains hard to predict the twists and turns in the region’s politics as voters gear up to make their choices in the December polls.
Kibaki expects, Luhyaland waits
By Barnabas Bii, Kakamega, Sept 21 2007
President Kibaki’s just-ended four-day tour of Western province must have been deeply satisfying. Except for a few sideshows of supporters of various parties backing him clashing, he was warmly received even in areas where this support has been scanty, such as Teso and Mt Elgon districts. Western has acquired a great political significance with all the three major presidential contenders — the President himself, Mr Raila Odinga of ODM and ODM Kenya’s Mr Kalonzo Musyoka — picking running mates from the region.
The president was returning to the province for the second time in as many months just a day after he announced his decision to seek re-election on a Panu ticket on Sunday. Unlike his previous trips, the latest showed a different Kibaki who made repeated calls to voters to give him a second mandate. And he must be having smug satisfaction that even in areas where it had been expected that the residents would give him lukewarm reception, there was enthusiasm. As has now become traditional, President Kibaki dished out goodies to try to lure the residents to his side.
For instance, he commissioned development projects in Mumias, Lugari, Mt Elgon and the four Bungoma districts in and assured the locals of more should they vote him back to office. He reached out to clashes-hit Mt Elgon and Teso which are seen as opposition strongholds. He also visited the floods-hit Budalang’i area. In Lugari, he resolved a 10-year row over the location of the headquarters and performed the a ground-breaking ceremony at Pan Paper trading centre.
The president is banking on Ford Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo, Vice-President Moody Awori and Cabinet ministers such as Trade and Industry’s Dr Mukhisa Kituyi to marshal his re-election campaign in the region. But his lieutenants face stiff challenge from former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Odinga’s running mate.
ODM launches its campaigns in Kakamega today before proceeding to Nyanza and Rift Valley. Besides, President Kibaki must not underrate Dr Julia Ojiambo, Mr Musyoka’s running mate in ODM-K. While on this visit, which was repackaged to look like a working tour, the president commissioned various health, road and water projects and created divisions. He is conducting his tours in such a way that, although he is overtly asking for votes in some areas, he is covertly using his development record over the past five years as the reason why Kenyans should give him another chance.
So that at every station he visited, he reminded the people of strides made in agriculture, health and education. His lieutenants in the Western region harped on what they termed many top government jobs, including ministers and assistant ministers, that the president had given given to locals, including VP Awori. In unveiling new development projects that include improved roads, rural electrification and piped water a swell as police posts, more administrative units, President Kibaki expects the Western province residents to re-elect him if they hope to benefit more.
‘‘Do not gamble with leadership; if one is able and has been performing, let him continue,” he said. “I am asking you to vote me back for a final five-year term, after which I will leave others who are up to the task to take charge.” He was accompanied by Cabinet ministers and MPs whom he declared his pointmen in his re-election campaign. But this did not go down well with other hopefuls in who support Panu and who viewed it a a plot to rig the nominations.
‘‘We want free and fair nomination,” said Mr John Okapesi of Teso. “The president should not side with the sitting MPs if he wishes to enjoy our support.” Among the projects President Kibaki commissioned is the Sh2.7 billion Kapsokwony-Namwela road in Mt Elgon, the Sh5 million Kocholya theatre wing in Teso, the Sh14.8 million rural power plan in Bungoma West and several of water supply in almost all the districts he visited.
He also set up police posts along the Bungoma West-Mt Elgon border to improve security, and expressed government commitment to the revival of the Malaba-Malakisi cotton ginnery, among a number of initiatives aimed at boosting the area’s economy. President Kibaki used the tour also to assure Kenyans of free and fair elections, and appealed to parliamentary and civic candidates to conduct peaceful campaigns.
‘‘Election is a one-day process and should not spark chaos and animosity among Kenyans,” he said. “I am also in the race and voters will determine who emerges victorious after the exercise is over.” Although he visited Butere-Mumias, Lugari, Bungoma North, Bungoma South and Teso, the tour of Mt Elgon was viewed as the more significant, especially as t came a year after it was hit by clashes between the Soy and the Ndorobo.
He declared total war on the militia behind insecurity in the area that has led to the killing of more than 150 people. But critics argue that the President, who was visiting the area for only the first time since the clashes began a year ago, did little to end the clan fighting over land. In what was viewed as his most hard-hitting statements since he first toured the region, the president disclosed that his government had entered into an agreement with its Uganda counterpart to silence the militia once and for all. But he offered amnesty to residents willing to surrender arms and live in peace with their colleagues.
The clan fighting in Mt Elgon revolve around the 7,208-acre Chebyuk settlement scheme, which has resulted in the more than 150 killings and the displacement of thousands of others. During the visit, President Kibaki was expected to issue title deeds to 1,732 allottees, but the plan was said to have been shelved at the eleventh hour when it was established that it would spark more controversy.
The Lands ministry had earlier confirmed that the title deeds were ready for dishing out. The allegation gained credence when the area MP, Mr John Serut, in his speech, petitioned the President to issue the land ownership documents to the beneficiaries and also allocate more land to those left out in the exercise. It, however, emerged that the President’s strategists did a commendable thing shelving move as the militia had threatened to step up their fighting if it was done.
‘‘What is required is to unite the two clans and recover the illegal guns before amicably agreeing on how the land may be shared out,” said former area Wilberforce Kisiero. In the area, President Kibaki is banking on Mr Serut to deliver votes for him his coalition of parties in an area that seems to be tilting towards ODM. The assistant minister for Planning and National Development is facing stiff challenge from former MPs and professionals who are opposed to his leadership, and who accuse him of failing to initiate tangible development.
Kibaki returns to Luhyaland with new fishing rod
By Simbi Kusimba, Bungoma, Sept 10 2007
President Kibaki returns to Western Province next week in a bid to woo close to half-a-million votes in Bungoma region. The appointment of former vice-president Musalia Mudavadi as the running mate of ODM’s torch bearer Raila Odinga is causing political shockwaves in Bungoma and neighbouring districts that could impact heavily on the presidential election.
Although Ford Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo views himself as a principal player in the Kibaki administration, his decision to back the Head of State may not receive total acceptance by voters in the region. In the last General Election, former vice-president Michael Wamalwa, whom Mr Kombo succeeded as Ford-K leader, helped deliver votes for the Head of State. Mr Kombo also delivered a Yes vote during the 2005 constitutional referendum.
However, he lacks Mr Wamalwa’s charisma and his stewardship of the party has been marked by splits and defections. Consequently, he may not have the last word on who most voters would support. In the absence of a Ford-K presidential candidate, the voters will have to choose between Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga. ODM Kenya’s Kalonzo Musyoka’s candidature does not elicit much excitement in Bungoma. When Mr Kibaki appointed LDP’s Moody Awori vice-president after Wamalwa’s death in 2003, many Ford-K supporters felt short-changed as they did after the referendum when they were led to believe Mr Kombo would be appointed VP if they voted for the government side.
They are much wiser now, but the VP position is being dangled yet again to the Webuye MP and his Kimilili counterpart, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, who along with Mr Awori, have been spearheading the Narc Kenya campaigns in Western. Bungoma is now split into four districts with five constituencies whose voters total 356,000. Along with Teso’s 85,000 and Mt Elgon with a similar number, they add up to slightly more than 526,000.
These areas were not in last month’s itinerary to Western Province by the President. It will be interesting to follow Mr Kibaki’s tour of Bungoma and who between Mr Kombo and Dr Kituyi will play host to him. For the moment, Dr Kituyi is the political supremo in Bungoma North District where Ford-K has sponsored candidates to unseat him.
In Bungoma East, where Mr Kombo calls the shots, Narc-K has sponsored Mr Alfred Wekesa Sambu, a longtime ally of the President, and Ms Roselinda Simiyu is ODM’s front runner. Sirisia MP Moses Wetang’ula, a key Kombo ally, is being challenged by Narc- K’s John Waluke and a host of other aspirants. In Bungoma South District, which has Kanduyi and Bumula constituencies, the incumbents — Messrs Wafula Wamunyinyi and Wakoli Bifwoli respectively, face formidable Narc-K opponents, hence the palpable tension, which has degenerated into violence in some areas.
The fact that Bungoma, Webuye and Kimilili municipalities have an increasing number of ODM supporters has already caused consternation in the political establishment, given that neighbouring Teso and Mt Elgon constituencies have a majority of voters in the Orange camp. In Teso’s Amagoro, local MP Sospeter Ojaamong, a key Odinga ally, has managed to tilt the scales against former MP Albert Ekirapa, who has been rooting for Kanu chairman Uhuru Kenyatta whose fortunes continue to dwindle.
In Mt Elgon, although incumbent John Serut is backing Mr Kibaki, the Orange team has a heavy presence. Sources have told the Nation that the Ford-K leadership has petitioned the President to create a new province comprising the four Bungoma districts along with Lugari, Teso and Mt Elgon, with Bungoma Town as its capital.
President Kibaki is widely expected to officially undertake the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the Kibabii College, which has been on the drawing board for the past 30 years. It is expected to cost Sh1.74 billion. The Government is spending billions of shillings on two major roads in the greater Bungoma and Mt Elgon districts between now and December next year.
Nevertheless the ODM campaign strategy as articulated by Dr Adhu Awiti in Bungoma last month is one that President Kibaki will have to handle with tact.
ODM plans the formation of a western alliance by leaders from Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces with support from the Coast region to upstage the Mt Kenya region in the coming elections. Retired president Daniel Moi’s support for Mr Kibaki’s re-election is generating a lot of resentment from some voters in the larger Bungoma, which stood steadfast against his regime in three elections between 1992 and 2002.
And promises that an ODM government would implement the Bomas Draft constitution that guarantees devolution of power and 60 per cent of revenue to the provinces to bring about the real changes is sweet music to the voters. ---source: Nation
Elijah Masinde and the Luhya prophecy
By Anderson Ojwang and Allan Kisia, Nairobi Sept 2007
The nomination of Lang’ata MP Raila Odinga as the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) presidential candidate with former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi as his running mate has sparked off a debate in western Kenya.
Memories of a prophecy by Elijah Masinde have been rekindled in words uttered many decades ago.
Doyen of opposition politics Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (centre) consults with Luhya elders the late Masinde Muliro (right) and Martin Shikuku before the split of the original Ford. File Picture
Leaders here claim that in the 1960s, Masinde prophesied that his community — the Luhya — would ascend to leadership of the country through their neighbours, the Luo.
"Bubwami bukhamile khunyanja (The leadership will come from the lake)," are said to be the exact words Elijah Masinde spoke in reference to Masinde Muliro’s chance for the presidency.
"Masinde Muliro nali owulila baana Babukusu ne Bajaluo, Nyanga balimuwa Bubwami ( Muliro should co-operate with the Luo because they would one day give him leadership).
A number of elderly people in Western provinced think the prophecy is about to be fulfilled albeit through another generation.
They say the prophecy by the founder of Dini ya Msambwa, is slowly becoming a reality.
Mr Silas Kilongi, who comes from Kimilili in Bungoma District, where Masinde lived, said he heard of the prophecy while he was a teenager.
He said Masinde predicted that Luhya leadership would come from the Luo, who will have cleansed the seat.
"He said the Luo will cleanse the seat since it is tainted by evil leadership," Kilongi added.
Kilongi says it is for that reason that a good number of the Luhya backed Jaramogi Oginga Odinga for presidency in the 1992 General Election.
Jaramogi ran for the Presidency on a Ford-Kenya ticket. After his death, Michael Wamalwa Kijana took over the party’s leadership.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard in Kakamega on Saturday, Kilongi said most of the people who believe in this prophecy are from the Bukusu sub-tribe in Bungoma, Kitale and Trans Nzoia.
Masinde was born between 1910 and 1912 in Kimilili and started out as a footballer.
By the early 1940s, he had risen to the rank of a junior elder within his community in Kimilili area, and became increasingly anti-colonial.
In 1944, he led a number of localised defiance campaigns against the colonial authorities and was imprisoned many times.
Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi after he was declared ODM presidential candidate. Raila named Musalia his running mate.
Picture by Collins Kweyu
While in jail, Masinde claimed to have had a vision. In the vision Wele Khakaba (God the Provider) instructed him to tell the white man to leave Kenya.
When he was released, he revived Musambwa (Bukusu for the spirit of a people), and gained huge followings in Western Kenya, Uganda, Pokot, Turkana and even Baringo District.
Excitement in Western province
Before his death, Masinde pointed out to his son the spot where he wanted to be buried — he wanted a huge sycamore tree uprooted to make way for his grave.
Upon his death, the family opted for a different spot to bury him. However, their efforts failed as the spot they had marked to bury Masinde turned out to be a hidden grave.
They took this to be a bad omen and proceeded to bury him at the spot he had earlier pointed out to.
After his death in 1987, Mzee Mangulieche took charge of Dini ya Msambwa.
Yesterday, Kilongi said the Bukusu go to Mangulieche to ask for directions in their lives and for prophecy.
He said Mangulieche is also consulted when decisions affecting the community are made.
In Western Province, the rise of Mudavadi and Raila has caused excitement.
Leaders are evoking the 1960s prophesies of the revered freedom fighter and spiritual leader.
Leading community leaders including Moi University lecturer Prof Bonventure Kere, Lugari MP Dr Enock Kibungunchy, lawyer Eugene Wamalwa and the chairman of Kenya Sugar Board Mr Saulo Busolo are in agreement that Raila’s presidential candidature has serious political connotations and bearing on the Luhya.
The leaders say the Raila candidature is a matter of great political interest and concern to the Luhya. They say it cannot be easily wished away as others may want to.
They say the prophecy and the Raila candidature is something worth thinking about, analysing and putting into perspective before the General Election "to enable our people make an informed political decision".
Kere says the community cannot ignore the prophecy of Masinde. It is the gospel that is preached by the many locals.
"It is a very critical moment for the Luhya community and this explains why in 1992 the Bukusu community supported Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in the hope that he would pass over the leadership to us, as Masinde prophesied. The situation seems to replay itself now in Jaramogi’s son Raila with Mudavadi as his running mate," he says.
Kere says the prophecy nearly came to pass when Odinga made former Vice-President the late Michael Wamalwa Kijana the vice chairman of Ford-Kenya.
He says the Luhya, especially the Bukusu, own Ford-Kenya because of Odinga and this could be a fulfilment of the part of the great prophecy.
"You cannot wish away Ford-Kenya’s Nyanza roots and that is why former freedom fighter Achieng Oneko died while he was still a party member. The party is still respected in Nyanza because of its rich heritage," he says.
Kere says at the time of Jaramogi’s death, Wamalwa rose to the helm and galvanised the Luhya into Narc, which subsequently formed the Government with him as President Kibaki’s deputy.
He says Jaramogi had passed on the baton to Wamalwa according to Masinde’s prophecy and that it was difficult for Raila to defeat Wamalwa in the party chair elections.
"Ford-Kenya has remained stronger in Western Province, especially in Bukusuland, due to the belief," he says.
Busolo, the former Webuye MP, says Raila-Mudavadi axis has become a dominant factor among the Luhya.
The luhya must not make another mistake
He says it has rekindled the 1992 debate whether Jaramogi would fulfil the prophecy and if the choice of Mudavadi by Raila would make the dream come true.
"It is a delicate situation for the people of western Kenya and we must monitor it closely so as not to make another mistake," he says.
Eugene Wamalwa shares Kere’s sentiments. He argues that the Luhya look upon Masinde as a prophet and hope that his predictions would come true.
He says Masinde prophesied that the Luhya would lead the country through the "third leadership" and it would come from Nam Lolwe (Lake Victoria).
The Saboti parliamentary aspirant says the Luhya have had two sets of leaders. The Muliro and Wamalwa were the first two.
Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo are strategically placed to give that leadership to the community in the third set.
"Both Muliro and Wamalwa were close to the throne. All of them were close to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga," Eugene says, adding, "We are witnessing a similar scenario with Mudavadi and we are waiting to see how the complex political scene will play out. It is a trying moment for our community."
He says the prophecy was not only confined to the Bukusu but to the Luhya community. That is why, he says, Mudavadi’s placing is so intriguing and interesting to watch as events unfold ahead of the December General Election.
Eugene says the Luhya community still look up to the prophecy with the nomination of Raila as the ODM presidential candidate. He thinks serious political realignment was likely to be witnessed in the wider community once Parliament is dissolved.
He says most of the prophesies by Masinde have come true and this has reinforced his respect in the community and that is why people believe in his ideology.
"He was one of the few people who prophesied about the end of colonialism and that Muliro’s Kadu would not form the Government at independence — among others that have come to pass," says Eugene.
But Kibungunchy feels it is imperative for Western Kenya leaders to regroup and focus afresh on the presidency before making any political realignment.
He says some of the issues to be looked into include the famous prophecy by Masinde. They should also look at both Raila and Kibaki groups that are likely to offer leadership to the community.
"Our people believe in the Masinde prophecy that our leadership would come from Lake Victoria and the new political arithmetic of Raila and Mudavadi is a very technical and intricate situation," he says.
Kibunguchy says the community’s leaders must critically analyse both Raila and Kibaki candidatures. They must come up with a viable alliance that would give the community leadership in the near future.
Bumula MP Mr Silvestre Wakoli and Dr Francis Munialo Opar, a lecturer at Moi University, dismiss Masinde’s prophecy, saying it has no place in the current political set up.
Wakoli says that as a staunch Catholic, he has never believed in the prophecy of Masinde and his theory that the Luhya leadership would come from the lake was not realistic.
"I’m a Catholic and do not want to dwell on issues that have nothing to do with my religion," he says.
Opar says Masinde’s philosophy was based on the myths and mystics that have no place in the current set up where science dominates all cadres of life in understanding diverse issues.
He says perhaps Masinde’s philosophy had a chance previously but with current scientific and political developments, it has no place.
"My scientific background does not allow me to operate on myths that God lives on the mountain and on mysteries. There are scientific ways of determining facts and Masinde’s philosophy falls far below this," he says.
Opar wonders what Masinde stood for and the premise that he based his teaching and prophecy on.
But Kere maintains that those wishing away Masinde are doing so at their own peril and are not in tandem with the reality of the world.
"Any leader worth his salt should open up to such discussion because there are several truths in Masinde teachings and we must accept and accommodate them in our thinking," he says.
He says it was incumbent on Mudavadi to embrace the illusive Luhya unity and to work towards realising the dream of Luhya presidency through the lake. The lecturer says Raila should endear himself to the Ford-Kenya fraternity and work towards achieving the prophecy.
Busolo says some of the mistakes people make today is because of the disregard for spiritual leaders and over reliance on the white man’s religion.
"Christianity killed our traditional practices and to a larger extent we continue to suffer because we have ignored the traditional practices. We must re-organise the systems and recognise the spiritual leaders in order to develop," he says.
He says African prophets must be recognised and given a place in the society because they have supernatural powers to foresee events and we cannot wish them away.
Busolo says there was a special relationship between Odinga and Masinde and the former recognised the latter and respected his stand.
Raila early this year while on a political tour of Bungoma District evoked the spirit of Masinde.
He said he recognised the Luhya community and their political struggle and called for unity between the Luo and Luhya to realise their leadership dream.
ODM nomination to shape future of Western politics
Story by BENSON AMADALA
Publication Date: 8/25/2007
ODM presidential hopeful Musalia Mudavadi addresses a party rally. There could be a political backlash in Western Province if ODMfails to nominate him as its torch bearer. Photo/FILE
Competing political camps in Western Province are adopting a wait-and-see approach as the clock ticks towards the General Election.
Of particular significance will be the fate of former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi in ODM after the party’s eagerly-awaited nomination on September 1. If the former Sabatia MP comes out with what Western people will consider to be a favourable position, then ODM will be the party to watch in the region. But if he loses the nomination, then their support for the opposition party will most likely be reconsidered.
However, Mr Mudavadi has put his case strongly, saying the ODM presidential race was not about him as an individual but a team that would form the next government.
“We are in ODM because we want to lay a stake in the next government and should not be swayed by what will happen after the nomination process to determine our future in the party,” he said.
Although his message appears to have been well received by party supporters, what happens after the nomination could give the strongest hint of emerging political alliances in the province.
Gamble in leadership
A former Kanu Kakamega branch executive officer, Mr Mark Udoto, says the Luhya community could no longer continue taking a gamble in leadership.
“There could be a political backlash if ODM fails to nominate Mr Mudavadi as the flag-bearer and the incumbent (President Kibaki) could be the beneficiary as voters would prefer him to the other candidates in the race,” said Mr Udoto, who is now a member of the Luhya Council of Elders.
Indeed, the tidal wave of expectation sweeping the province could snap and jolt the ODM euphoria if Mr Mudavadi was relegated to the periphery in the party’s presidential nominations.
At recent ODM rallies in Kakamega and Bungoma, the former vice-president came out fighting to explain his position in the party.
He was at pains to explain that he was not under pressure to ditch ODM after it emerged that the race for the party’s ticket had narrowed to a candidate tipped to be favourite in the contest.
Crowds at the ODM Kakamega rally turned the meeting into a campaign platform for former Sabatia MP, interrupting speeches by other party luminaries.
Mr Mudavadi has been anxious about each passing moment as contest for the ODM ticket rages and as he struggles to reinvent his political career and emerge the dominant political force in the region.
He is also fighting to make a political comeback after he dramatically lost the Sabatia parliamentary seat in 2002.
The defeat by Mr Moses Akaranga, the Public Service minister, jolted Mr Mudavadi’s political career, forcing him to retreat from the political scene before reappearing during the referendum campaigns for a new constitution in 2005.
Early this week, Mr Mudavadi met elders and delegates from the province at Shieywe Guest House in Kakamega and was endorsed by the gathering to fight for the ODM ticket.
The 480 delegates at the meetings drove the point home telling the former VP to stand out as an equal in the battle for the ODM ticket.
Former Mt Elgon MP Wilberforce Kisiero, who spoke on behalf of the elders, said the time had come for the communities in the province to make their presence felt on the political landscape.
“Although we met our fellow elders from Nyanza and Rift Valley we cannot continue waiting for leadership to be given to us on a silver platter. We must fight for it,” said Mr Kisiero.
By forging alliances with communities from the three regions — Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley — the elders were consolidating political support to boost chances of ascending to the presidency.
“As elders we agreed to back our own son to go for the presidency on ODM ticket but in the unlikely event that he loses we will support whoever shall be picked as the torch bearer,” explained Mr Kisiero.
The former MP electrified the delegates when he said Mr Mudavadi was best suited for the ODM ticket because of his gentle nature and conduct.
“We have a saying among my people that a good leader does not lead with his heart but does so with the gentleness of his breath. Mr Mudavadi has those qualities and we shall back him to the hilt,” said Mr Kisiero. MPs Andrew Ligale (Vihiga), Kenneth Marende (Emuhaya) and Sospeter Ojaamong (Amagoro) say the only way to ensure Mr Mudavadi has a head start at the ODM nominations is to rally delegates to vote for him as a block.
“What we want you to know is that we are talking to delegates outside Western Province and if you can all back Mr Mudavadi we are confident he will carry the day,” said Mr Ligale.
In the rival camp, Vice-President Moody Awori has been leading the Narc Kenya onslaught in the province to rally voters to back President Kibaki’s re-election for a second term.
The Narc-K campaign is spearheaded by the VP and Cabinet ministers Mukhisa Kituyi (Trade and Industry) and Dr Newton Kulundu (Labour).
But the party’s campaigns have so far received lukewarm support in the province as the flower party is considered a strategy to derail Mr Mudavadi’s bid for presidency.
The Narc-K team has hit the campaign trail with gusto trying to convince voters in the region to back the re-election of President Kibaki.
Key opponents of the Narc-K campaign team have been selling the idea that communities in the region could be isolated politically if they backed President Kibaki for another term in office.
Cabinet ministers from the province allied to Narc-K and party officials have been busy countering the ODM influence, saying that communities from the region have a major stake in the Kibaki administration and would be foolhardy to abandon his ship for the opposition.
By sticking with President Kibaki, the Narc-K team says communities in the province would be paving the way for one of their own to ascend to the presidency after the incumbent serves his final term.
Mr Mudavadi’s campaign in the province is also being checked on another front by Cabinet minister Musikari Kombo and his Ford-K party.
The Local Government minister has also been repositioning himself for a vantage position in the on-going political realignment after his party was fraught with leadership squabbles a year ago, leading to a split.
After the 2002 General Election, Ford-K then captained by former Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa emerged a dominant political force in the province until his death.
The party’s political fortunes suffered a huge set-back after Housing minister Soita Shitanda and assistant minister Bonny Khalwale parted ways with Mr Kombo to form New Ford-K party.
The party has managed to clip away the support initially enjoyed by Ford-K in Kakamega District and could be a factor influencing voters in the coming General Election.
Mr Kombo has been struggling to put on a brave face after Mr Shitanda and Dr Khalwale - two of his former confidants in Ford-K - abandoned him.
The Webuye MP has been sending mixed signals about his political intentions but has indicated he would be ready to join an alliance with like-minded parties to campaign for President Kibaki.
Although he had earlier indicated he would be in the race for the presidency the shifting alliances appear to have convinced the minister otherwise and he seems keen on working closely with the Kibaki regime.
But matters have not been made rosy for Mr Kombo with the Narc-K brigade taking their campaign to his door-step in Bungoma District, considered the Ford-K stronghold.
Mr Kombo and the Kaddu party chairman, Mr Cyrus Jirongo, have said they would back Mr Mudavadi for the presidency if he got the ODM ticket and urged him to ditch the party if lost the nomination.
But Mr Jirongo, who is also in the race for the presidency, is being seen as a stumbling block in Mr Mudavadi’s quest for State House. Speaking in Mr Shitanda’s Malava constituency, Mr Jirongo said time had come for Luhyas to stop playing second fiddle to other communities and have a shot at the presidency.
The former YK’92 boss, who in the past worked closely with the Ford-K chairman, is believed to have pulled the rag from under his feet and sponsored a coup in the party.
Although he denied having a hand in the party’s leadership woes, Mr Jirongo later teamed up with Mr Shitanda and Dr Khalwale during the Luhya unity rallies. They only parted ways after the two failed to join his Kaddu party.
Mr Awori, Mr Kombo and Mr Jirongo aside, the people of Western Province and ODM supporters countrywide will be waiting with bated breath to see if voters in the region will back a candidate from outside the province should Mr Mudavadi miss the party ticket.
Whether promises of picking Mr Mudavadi for one of the plum positions in the ODM line-up could open up room for new realignments and intensify the dizzying scramble for votes wide open.
Western MPs explore best political route
By LUCAS BARASA and BERNARD NAMUNANE, Nairobi, August 16 2007
MPs from Western Province met yesterday to explore strategies for the next General Election. They were examining the possibility of working with a coalition with the highest chances of forming the next government. The meeting convened by Ford Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo, Westlands MP Fred Gumo and his Nambale colleague Chris Okemo, was attended by 18 MPs from the region. The MPs are said to be gauging former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi’s bid for the ODM presidential candidate.
The group was also assessing chances of President Kibaki retaining the post and those of Lang’ata MP Raila Odinga making it to State House. Mr Kombo, the Local Government minister, Mr Soita Shitanda (Housing) and Dr Noah Wekesa (Science and Technology) were among instrumental faces behind the drive. Sources at the meeting held at the Nairobi Club indicated that if Mr Mudavadi was not chosen the presidential candidate, then they would negotiate with the winner to back their own in 2012.
It was further revealed that MPs had realised the presidential battle is likely to be between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga. Sources said they were concerned that lawyer Mugambi Imanyara, had handed over ODM instruments Mr Odinga who he described as the best man to lead the country. The source revealed that the leaders will negotiate with a “friendly candidate” willing to share power with them and eventually support the Luhya community’s candidate in 2012.
Consequently, the MPs have invited three politicians who have declared interest for presidency, Mr Mudavadi, Dr Julia Ojiambo of Labour Party of Kenya and Mr Cyrus Jirongo of Kaddu to the next meeting on Wednesday. Mr Kombo had declared his intention to vie for the top seat but his support for President Kibaki has sent mixed signals.
The meeting is expected to explore ways in which one of them could seize a presidential flag from their groups. Mr Mudavadi is in Mr Odinga’s ODM while Dr Ojiambo supports a group led by Mwingi North MP Kalonzo Musyoka in ODM-Kenya. Yesterday, the MPs resolved that the Luhya community is committed to be in the next government and any of their presidential candidates with the highest prospects was acceptable.
The MPs raised questions about government handling of insecurity in Mt Elgon, floods in Budalangi and the recent landslide in Malava. Speaking after the talks, Mr Gumo who was named the spokesman, said they were united and wanted to give their community direction ahead of the General Election. The Westlands MP said MPs from Western, Trans Nzoia and Nairobi meeting reviewed the political situation in the country.
Others who who attended yesterday’s meeting were Prof Ruth Oniang’o, Prof Christine Mango, Mr Sylvester Wakoli, Mr Raphael Wanjala and Mr Wicliffe Osundwa. MPs Wicliffe Oparanya, David Were, Daniel Khamasi, Kenneth Marende, Andrew Ligale, Enoch Kibungunchy, Raphael Wanjala and Sospeter Ojaamong attended the talks.== Source: Nation Media
Kibaki caught in Western crossfire
By Gitau Warigi, Nairobi August 11 2007
Simmering rivalries between the major political players in Western province over who should claim credit for the tour, nearly overshadowed President Kibaki’s tour, which was carefully and deliberately themed on development. The selection of a politically neutral player, Catholic Bishop Philip Sulumeti of Kakamega, to read out the Western leaders’ memorandum at Kakamega State Lodge, had been specifically designed to camouflage the jostling by rival political bigwigs.
Ford-Kenya considers itself, by right, to be the primary player in Western and its leaders, more so Local Government Minister Musikari Kombo, were keen for that singular recognition, which would have put Moody Awori, the Vice-President, on something of a spot and thrown protocol out of the window. Not too long ago, a scheduled presidential tour to the same province had to be shelved on account of this same bickering over who should play the lead. This time it was made abundantly clear the V-P would be the chief host to welcome the president at the Kakamega airstrip as Mr Kombo and other local MPs queued up to await their turn. The rest of the tour followed this pattern of Mr Awori acting as main host.
It may be a pointed signal from State House that they are aware of all these undercurrents such that Bungoma District, where the Ford-Kenya leadership would have been less easy to rope back, was tactfully kept out of the itinerary. Word is that it will be included in a return tour Kibaki is expected to make to the province very soon. State House is aware Western Province will be a pivotal region this year, much as traditionally it has been a hard nut for Kibaki crack. The sole exception was in 2002, when the political circumstances nationally became very different. Otherwise in both 1992 and 1992, Kibaki had fared dismally there.
Indeed it could be said that the solid Western vote in 2002 for Narc was not really a Kibaki vote per se, but more a protest vote against Kanu for refusing to name Mr Musalia Mudavadi as President Moi’s successor. The situation for Kibaki now is very different with him being the incumbent, and not just because he is best-placed to dispense patronage and political pork. Since the multi-party system was restored in 1992, Western has displayed what could arguably be the most politically polygamous behaviour of any other region. In 1992, Kanu, Ford-Kenya and Ford-Asili shared up the place; in 1997, Kanu was back in the province together with a new-look Ford-Kenya.
As of now, a clutch of parties are fighting tooth-and-nail to claim the province’s political soul. Aside from Ford-Kenya (which has become increasingly marginalised to Bungoma), there is a splinter group led by Housing Minister Soita Shitanda calling itself New Ford-Kenya, whose geography seems to be confined to Kakamega district and its environs. There is also Narc-Kenya, to which the VP and Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi belong, and which is finding the going not quite easy in selling itself across.
Former Kanu operative Cyrus Jirongo leads another, quite small, outfit called KADDU. Sometime back it was pushing an agenda of “getting Luhya votes into one basket,” but the efforts somewhere got derailed. Informed opinion is agreed that ODM-K has established a strong presence in the region, and as things stand now, it probably has the edge. The problem is that the fortunes of the Orange party seem largely tied up with one man’s fate in the party: Mr Mudavadi’s. Kanu’s abrupt collapse in the province after Mr Uhuru Kenyatta was named the party candidate in 2002 is seen as a cautionary tale for ODM-K in Western province.
It has come to be expected that under the Kibaki presidency, his VP will be from Western. That was the case with Kibaki’s partnership with the late Michael Wamalwa, and now with Mr Awori. In fact, the origin of the tiff between Ford-Kenya and the VP is because the party had imagined its leader, not Mr Awori, would automatically be appointed to replace Mr Wamalwa. In Kenya, becoming VP is often seen a stepping stone to the higher office, and after three vice-presidents in a row, the common view from Western is that the next step should be their due. Conventional wisdom has it that Mr Awori will be too old by the time Kibaki is to complete a second term.
Ultimately, a hint of whether Kibaki would be inclined to support a successor from Western is what could probably gain him the greatest mileage there, as Ford-Kenya MPs often and none-too-subtley keep alluding to at public rallies.
Mudavadi at a political crossroads
By Dennis Lumiti, Nairobi August 4 2007
Former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi is currently facing a near-repeat of the events of 2002 which saw him take a political nosedive after decamping from the then National Alliance Rainbow Coalition to support the Uhuru project. This time round, Mudavadi is under intense pressure from his adoring voters in Western Province who are forcing him never to accept any other position in ODM K other than the Presidential ticket.
And even those who are for President Kibaki’s re-election have not been shying away from stating that if Mudavadi does not make it in the ODM K Presidential nominations then they will have an easy task selling the Head of State to the residents. “The truth is that if ODM K settles on Musalia, all of us will support him even if it does not necessarily mean we join the party. But if they do not do that, then the residents will not vote for anybody else other than President Kibaki,” says Housing Minister and New Ford-Kenya chairman, Soita Shitanda.
Mudavadi, who is a close ally of his now political rival Raila Odinga, is now facing a serious political dilemma over whether to stay on in the Presidential race or back the Lang’ata MP the way the likes of Najib Balala, William Ruto and Joe Nyagah have already indicated. He could have wished to do exactly that but when he toured Western Province last weekend, he underwent a serious pressure from the residents who warned him bluntly that he was headed for a political doom if he supported Raila or any other person for the ODM K Presidential ticket.
The residents are seemingly annoyed with Raila in particular with Luhya elders having reportedly warned Mudavadi last weekend to be wary of the legislator. Mudavadi held a lengthy closed-door meeting with elders from Western Province, led by the immediate former Barclays Bank of Kenya chairman Samuel Ambundo and former Commissioner of Co-operatives, Dr. Machanja Ligabo, who are said to have warned him of political doom if he backed down from the race.
He also held several meetings in the area and attended a funeral in Sabatia where the mood remained the same. On Sunday of the same weekend, the elders from Western Province told off those from Nyanza who wanted to politically reconcile Raila and Mudavadi and pressurize him to back the Lang’ata legislator for the Presidency at a closed-door meeting in a hotel about ten kilometres from Kisumu.
What caused a lot of furore in the province were reports that Raila had held a meeting with Mwingi North MP, Kalonzo Musyoka and Ruto where they allegedly shared out the top three posts in a would-be ODM K Government. The residents were also annoyed further to hear that Raila had then promised at the meeting to be a one-term President and pave way for Kalonzo in 2012. This did not go down well with the residents who have started viewing Raila with hate and accusing him of trying to destroy Mudavadi’s political future.
“Does Raila think he can get anything here in Western Province really if he is the Presidential candidate? He should forget it. People here feel they would rather re-elect President Kibaki, than Raila,” says a high school teacher Mr. Khamisi Shivachi. Raila and Mudavadi have been close political allies but their honeymoon may be ending.
While Raila feels his dream of becoming a tenant at State House must be accomplished this year, Mudavadi on the other hand thinks many Kenyans view Raila with skepticism and would not vote for him. And even if Mudavadi would be willing to back Raila, it is evident that the people of Western Province would not accept.
Mudavadi is now enjoying a strong following in Western Province because of his stand in ODM, the way he used to be before decamping from Rainbow Alliance to join former President Moi’s project. One can only underestimate his influence in the province at his or her own peril. Many of his critics in the province had all along thought that he would be among the first to declare support for Raila.
“Some people normally argue that Musalia is a coward. That man is not. Behind that cowardly face is a strong, steel and hardened heart. He can fight to the end. You will see,” says Mudavadi’s former political rival in Western Province, but now his closest ally, Cyrus Jirongo. Jirongo, a former minister who is the chairman of KADDU, has stated that he is for Mudavadi’s Presidential bid.
Mudavadi may actually have been willing to support Raila or any other person, but the pressure in his home province is so immense. The residents interviewed said they were not being tribal in their demands that Mudavadi be ODM’s K Presidential flagbearer. “He is the best person for ODM.K. We feel if those in ODM K do not see these qualities that he exhibits, then they are not for a Luhya President. We Luhyas are not tribal and a President from here could be the best for this country,” says Mzee Ambundo.
Elders drawn from the entire province told Mudavadi to stick in the race and even pull out of ODM K and seek the Presidential ticket on another party’s ticket if he felt (or we felt that) he had been shortchanged. The ODM K Ikolomani branch chairman who is a Kakamega-based lawyer Mr. Aggrey Shitsama says the pressure on Mudavadi is so intense that he cannot make the mistake of “annoying his adoring home supporters.”
“Imagine even Minister Moses Akaranga who dethroned Musalia from the Sabatia Parliamentary seat in 2002, is willing to step down for him in this year’s polls if ODM K nominate him as their Presidential torchbearer,” he told Regional Dispatches. Those vouching for Kibaki’s re-election in Western Province are said to be spending sleepless nights while imagining how they would convince the voters in the area in the event Mudavadi was the ODM K Presidential candidate.
“It is true that we would face a hostile crowd. But I have told my brother Musalia time and again that he is too young and what he can only do is support President Kibaki for a second term as he warms up to take over at State House in 2012. The Luhya State House dreams can never be achieved through ODM K. Already you see their line-up ahead of this year’s elections,” says Narc-Kenya official Stanley Livondo. Livondo who has been criss-crossing the province campaigning for Kibaki’s re-election, says Mudavadi would rather back the Head of State than Raila.
“Raila has never been our friend as Luhyas. We would be in trouble if we supported him because he will be our greatest enemy. More so, his quest for State House is suspect. He was a Roads Minister for only a few months but what did he do? He embarked on demolishing posh houses belonging to Luhyas and people from other communities that he hates. Show me any road he constructed here in Western Province” he told the Regional Dispatches.
Mudavadi started off his Presidential campaigns on a confusing note last year when he announced his candidature in the presence of Raila at the Kakamega Golf Hotel on April 1, last year. “We wondered why he had to announce that he is vying for the Presidency in the presence of his rival and on April Fool’s Day. Many of us dismissed him and thought he was Raila’s pawn. But now we are happy as he is asserting his authority and becoming his own man. We urge him to press on and we shall support him,” says Assistant Minister and Ikolomani MP Dr. Bonny Khalwale.
Dr. Khalwale however also feels Mudavadi should not accept to support anybody else in ODM K and that in the event that he is short-changed in ODM K, he should join another alliance and still gun for the top seat. “It is us his supporters who will dictate to him what to do,” says Khalwale. The support Raila used to enjoy in the province courtesy of his relationship with Mudavadi seems to be on the wane as the residents now view him as a spoiler for “their son and brother.”
“While Raila likes moving around the country drinking people’s water, he has closed his river back home. We shall also close ours. If he is a man enough, let him now hold a rally here without Musalia’s blessings,” says KADDU’s Director for Logistics and Co-ordination Mr Cleophas Shimanyula. ODM K was forced to cancel a rally in Bungoma last weekend due to disagreements between Raila and Mudavadi. Mudavadi, Kalonzo and several other ODM K leaders had said they would not attend the rally.
By the time of going to press, there were reports that ODM K was planning two rallies in Kakamega and Bungoma next weekend but it was not yet clear if Mudavadi had accepted that. “For a long time, Raila used to assure us that he was comfortable with Musalia being the ODM presidential candidate. But we are shocked because he is now Musalia’s main obstacle,” Hamisi MP George Munyasa Khaniri told Regional Dispatches. Mudavadi will therefore be forced to go by the wishes of his people by making sure that he is a presidential candidate this year, no matter which party he vies on.=== Source: Kenya Times
Gumo and Tett to renew rivalry
|Constituency Profiles: Westlands
By Sam Kiplagat and Lucas Barasa, Nairobi July 28 2007
Archrivals Fred Gumo and Betty Tett are bracing themselves for another bruising battle. Twice in the past have the two politicians fought for the Nairobi seat like the Khayega bulls. The fight came to the fore for the first time in the 1997 vote counting, which went on for hours until Mr Gumo was declared the winner.
The seat has a history of occasionally electing politicians of Asian origin, and this time it has attracted businessman Kamlesh Pattni, his former lawyer Mr Aurelio Rebelo, a son of former MP Amin Walji, Ashif, who is running on a Kanu ticket. Dr Josephine Ojiambo the secretary-general of Keiyo South MP Nicholas Biwott’s Kanu faction, is also in the race.
Also running is IT expert Jonathan Mueke, Mr Baba Ndege Wandiri and Ms Kavetsa Adagala. Mrs Tett, an assistant minister for Housing, believes she has been robbed of the seat twice through what she calls rigging. In 2002, for instance, she was prevailed upon not to contest the seat and rally behind Mr Gumo, the Narc candidate, to ensure party victory.
Before she stepped down, she had gone around the constituency and gained quiet some support, which was a threat to Mr Gumo’s chances. “I stepped down in the spirit of team work since everything had to be done to remove Kanu from power,” she says. But it is the 1997 polls that she remembers with bitterness when the DP contestant lost to Mr Gumo by a margin of five votes. Mr Gumo garnered 17,882 against her 17,877 after several recounts.
At the 2002 Narc nomination, the battle reared its ugly face again with violence scenes in which several supporters were injured. The supporters also beat up nomination officials and took away ballot papers, leading to a cancellation. In a surprise turn of events, Narc leaders pressured Mrs Tett to step down for Mr Gumo, promising to nominate her to Parliament should the party form the government, and the scheme worked.
But this time round, she says she is ready to face her rivals, including Mr Gumo, without fear as she believes she is the best person to represent Westlands. “I have suffered more than anyone else fighting for this seat,” she says. “Nothing will stop me from getting it.” One thing she is happy about and considers a breakthrough is the fact that votes are by law now counted at the polling stations. Before 2002, ballot boxes would be ferried, for vote counting, to a central place, usually the divisional headquarters. It has since been discovered hat the arrangement leaves room for cheating and other irregularities.
Mrs Tett believes that the current system also makes counting more transparent. But Mr Gumo won’t be cowed. He says he is ready to face his opponents and fight to the bitter end. He became the Kitale mayor at the age of 27 and served for six years before quitting to vie for the then Kitale East parliamentary seat. He defeated Mr Masinde Muliro, who has since died, in a controversial election which was later nullified through a petition.
Mr Gumo became chairman of the Nairobi city commission in 1989 after the council was dissolved. He then shifted base to his rural home constituency in Busia district in 1992, but lost to Mr James Osogo. He moved to Westlands for the 1996 by-election following the death of Mr Walji and won by a paltry 1,200 votes, the lowest then since the reintroduction of multipartyism. Since then, it has been a battle between him and Mrs Tett.
But as the two scheme to outsmart each other, another hopeful claims that the Westlands residents feel the two MPs have nothing by way of development to show for their representation. Dr Ojiambo says the gap between the poor and the rich has continued to widen. The constituency is the home of who is who in Kenya. Even State House is in the constituency. Its leafy neighbourhoods include Loresho, Kileleshwa, Highridge, Kyuna, Lavington, Parklands, Runda, Muthaiga, Westlands itself, Kilimani and Kitusuru, to name but a few.
On the other hand, it has slums such as Kangemi, Gichagi, Ndumbuini and Kawangware. Dr Ojiambo says Mr Gumo and Mrs Tett should watch her as she is determined to grab the seat. In an incident before the 2002 polls and when was the deputy campaign coordinator of the then ruling party, Kanu, she remembers being called upon to address a group of unkempt Mungiki followers who wished to be allowed to direct the outcome of the party nominations in Laikipia district.
“They came and took over our KICC (Kenyata International Conference Centre) office and camped there,” she says. “Many of the officers, including the men, took off. I was left alone in the offices for two days, with the Mungiki in the building. At first I was really terrified when I realised that I was all alone with these people. But then I have this ability to turn fear into a challenge.”
The experience alone speaks volumes of Dr Ojiambo’s character; she is fiercely independent and a non-conformist. When Kanu lost power even at a time when it had been clear that it was headed for an electoral defeat, Dr Ojiambo did not waver. Not even her mother, ODM Kenya presidential hopeful Julia, could make her change her mind. She had earlier been elected Kanu secretary for gender affairs, being the only woman holding a senior position in the party.
She later shifted alliance to the Biwott faction, but shrugs off the suggestion that her position is mere tokenism, arguing that she has been in Kanu for the past 16 years. r Ojiambo considers Westlands her home, having been born in the area in 1961. She later went to Alliance girls high school in Kikuyu in 1979, where she completed her A levels before proceeding to the University of Nairobi to study medicine.
After graduating in 1985, she worked for the city council and later got a scholarship for a masters degree course in public health. She promises to break the culture of people working for elected leaders instead of for the people. Mr Mueke says his vision is to create opportunities to improve the residents’ economic situation.
“I shall pay special attention to the slums within the constituency in an effort to ensure that homes and markets are humanitarian and include basic facilities such as toilets, water and pathways,” he says. Mr Pattni, the Kenya National Democratic Alliance (Kenda) chairman, will be fighting against his former lawyer, Mr Rebelo. They are counting on the Asian vote as there is a formidable presence of the community in the constituency.
He says his main aim if elected is to uplift the residents’ living standards. Also in his plans is to set up a bursary fund and help the unemployed to get jobs.Mr Pattni will use his position of chairman of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to bring in investors and build more factories. “I’m identifying land which I will buy and set up factories alongside my friends across the world,” he pledges.
He is not running to seek power but to serve the people, he says, adding: “If it was about power, I was offered a nomination slot in 1992, but declined. I had a chance then.” Mr Wandiri will be seeking the seat on a Republican Party ticket, while Ms Adagala says she will use her experience at the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission to help Westlands.
Hon. Soita Shitanda ‘On the Spot’
By topi lyambila, london 26 July 2007
-Kibaki will retain Presidency
-Luhyas have lost it
-Kombo the main stumbling block
Hon. Soita Shitanda hit the Headlines mid last year after leading a group of renegade politicians largely from Kakamega District, in effect forming a splinter Ford-K party sect. At the time tension had been high since the naming of the Western Constituent University –The Muliro University contrary to many Kakamega residents. The University is located in Kakamega District of Western Province, while Masinde Muliro was a Nationalist politician who also happened to have been the man that cast the die in the move to have the initial college built in Kakamega and not Bungoma his native District.
Away from these sentimental under leanings, Hon Shitanda MP, had kind of fallen out with the Ford-K leader Musikari Kombo who hails from Bungoma District, the man who took over the reigns after the death of the party leader and then Vice President Wamalwa Kijana himself a Bukusu as well. Kombo’s political leadership both within the party and nationally, had been questioned in more fronts than one, a fact that had already seen his party counterpart from Bungoma, a cousin and close associate of the late VP, and current Trade Minister, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi hoof it. Dr. Kituyi in venting his anger at the way Kombo was conducting party business decamped to NARC-K.
Hon Shitanda, was in London over the weekend with the Kenyan delegation to the Kenya Property Expo (KPE) 2007 held at the prestigious Royal Horticultural Halls & Conference Centre reputed for their uncompromising status in hosting such specialist events as the ITV Schedules Launch, IMG Promotion, Bermuda Tourism, London Wedding Show, Goldman Sachs Venetian Dinner and Coys of Kensington Classic Car Auctions.
During a special Dinner given by the Kenya High Commission for exhibitors and staff at Efes Café of 177 Great Portland Street in Central London, I had the pleasure of putting Ndugu Shitanda ‘On the Spot’ between mouthfuls of the Turkish cuisine that had to be later replaced by a savoury ‘Nyam-chom’ look-alike after the Kenyan diners indicated disgust at the initial offering. It must however be noted here that for some of us whom a long-hard week punctuated by sleepless nights had, had its toll on, it meant a double meal at a sitting, not to mention the uncomfortable night. How we wished this to have been the after-party!
Back to my story, Mheshimiwa Shitanda came out as a very articulate legislator who knows his facts well and does not mince words. This view was almost tainted by the lengthy speech he had to endure the next day during his keynote address. Like many other participants who were looking forward to the speech, I cursed the writer who should in my opinion, preferably formulated bullet-points, which would have aloud Hon. ‘SS’ to look up more. The chap is well groomed, handsome I might add and I am sure many in the audience would have loved to see more of his eyes, catch a smile here a gesture there, but instead he had to read through page after page with eyes mostly glued to the paper-work most of the time.
His three-pointer at the dinner may be nothing knew to many a Kenyan, but when delivered with such conviction as Hon. Shitanda did it, one can’t help but admire the man;
- Kibaki to win the election – has been almost a foregone conclusion following the crumbling of the blocks that stopped the Government during the historical 2005 Constitutional Draft Referendum. ODM-K has nobody to blame but their greed and short-sightedness if they lose the election to NARC-K. Hon Shitanda does not see any formidable opposition that can oust Kibaki in the December elections.
- The Luhya Community can forget about taking up the mantle – another case of divide and rule but more about lack of direction and purpose amidst their leadership which brings us to point number 3.
- Hon. Musikari Kombo – Party leader of Ford-K, is the biggest stumbling block not only in the Luhya leadership triangle but in the Ford-Party which lost its –Leader-of-Opposition accolade to KANU after the last elections. Hon. Shitanda may be seen as having an axe to grind against Kombo after his ouster bid failed, but then many observers also prescribe to the opinion that Hon. Musikari has failed miserably in uniting the Luhya as the highest placed member of parliament at the time especially in his position as Party Chairman and by his own indication that he is a good negotiator and buddy to the president.
Hon Shitanda with no change in countenance told me point-blank that the only salvation will be in the Luhyas forgetting their differences and going back to the drawing board. “Forget about 2007, because we have lost it. Lets put our heads together after the elections and ask ourselves where we went wrong, own up to our mistakes and look at the bigger picture not the current petty party politics that have so occupied our times lately. Stop the finger pointing and listen to each other. Lets go back to the old homestead, sit round the bonfire and reflect on the past and present in order to find a lasting solution to the quest for unity and consequently leadership.”
On that note I wished the Hon Minister ‘bon appetite’ and resumed my attack on the lamb chops garnished with oriental herbs, why with my seat between Stash and Patrick how could I go wrong.
[Courtesy – www.kenyalondonnews.co.uk]
Arunga questions integrity of Equity Bank chairman.
PARLIAMENT, July 11 2007
Khwisero MP, Julius Arunga and Emuhaya MP, Kenneth Marende have questioned the integrity of Equity Bank boss, James Mwangi and demanded ministerial answers as to why the bank seems to be favoured for government projects. More>>>
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