Machakos Governor Dr Alfred Mutua’s efforts to wrest the Kamba kingpin’s title from former Vice – President Kalonzo Muyoka and deliver the region to Jubilee Coalition in the next elections are likely to be hampered by perceptions of past betrayal of the community.
Observers of Ukambani politics say there is a feeling that its leaders were used and dumped by the administrations of presidents Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and now Uhuru Kenyatta.
But this is no consolation for the Cord Coalition as there is an increasing call for Cord leader Raila Odinga to honour the 2013 pre-election pact and support Kalonzo for the presidency in the next elections. Several Wiper politicians have been pushing Kalonzo to run for the presidency either as Cord’s flag bearer or independently.
Critics of Mutua’s coziness with Jubilee say despite Kamba politicians having been close to the centre of power since independence, there is not much to show in terms of economic development nor have their loyalty been rewarded.
“From Paul Ngei, Jackson Mulinge, Mulu Mutisya, Kalonzo Musyoka and suspended Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu, they have all been close to the administrations of successive regimes. But the community has never been rewarded nor supported to ascend to the highest office despite their support,” says Campbell Munyambu, the Mwingi Professionals Forum Coordinator.
In the first independence government, Paul Ngei, who was then the Kamba political supremo, was a close ally of the founding father Mzee Kenyatta, while Mulinge and Mutisya were trusted lieutenants of Kenyatta’s successor, Moi.
According to Munyambu, the trend continued in the Kibaki government when Kalonzo agreed to sign a post-election pact with Kibaki after the disputed 2007 General Election. Kibaki did not, however, endorse Kalonzo to ascend to the presidency five years later, despite — according to Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama — having promised to do so in the 2008 agreement.
‘’Despite traversing the globe to campaign against the trial of Uhuru and Ruto in the Hague, Kalonzo was shut out of Jubilee, leaving him with no option but to join Raila to form Cord’’, says Munyambu.
He argues that Ngilu, who stuck with Jubilee and campaigned for it vigorously, has also been betrayed as she is facing corruption charges that can consign her to the political cold for a long time.
‘’This is a past we want anybody trying to lure the community into a government especially headed by leaders from Mt Kenya and Rift Valley to consider before convincing the community not to support one of their own for the presidency’’, he says.
Munyambu says after a series of betrayals, the community has resolved that the name of one of its own must be in the ballot in 2017. Wiper chairman David Musila also feels that if a leader from Ukambani does not go for presidency in the next General Election, then the only time the community may stand a chance of producing a president is 2032.
“I don’t know what position those trying to take us to Jubilee want us to be given because Kenyatta will be the flag bearer in the next elections while Ruto will be the candidate in 2022. That means our chance may only come in 2032,’’ he said recently when he hosted MCAs from the county in his Migwani home.
Musila says the only realistic option is for Cord to honour the MoU signed in 2013 that Kalonzo will be the flag bearer in 2017. Should this not happen, he says, Kalonzo should strike out on his own. But even as his critics dismiss him, Mutua’s activities in Ukambani cannot be ignored.
Despite resistance from governors Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Julius Malombe (Kitui), he is determined to spread his influence to the two counties. In Kitui, he has founded the Kitui County Football Club which has branches in all the county’s 159 locations.
Through his allies in the county MPs John Munuve (Mwingi North) and Joe Mutambu (Mwingi Central and Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South), he recently toured Mwingi North Constituency and promised to initiate water projects to alleviate water shortage in the area.
In Makueni County, he met MCAs after which he moved to Masii in Machakos county where elders from 22 clans endorsed him as the community’s kingpin.