Mutuku Mwangangi and Anthony Mwangi @PeopleDailyKe
Deep cracks have surfaced in the Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) after Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama announced he was ditching it, citing “irreconcilable differences” with party leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
Muthama further said he would not defend his seat but would concentrate on national campaigns for Nasa flag bearer Raila Odinga. Addressing a press conference at his rural home, Muthama said his differences with Kalonzo had reached an “irreconcilable” stage.
Party national vice-chairman Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr described Muthama’s exit as “terrible” and a big blow to the party and the Nasa fraternity. “The party has been dealt a big blow and may sink before August polls.
It is completely terrible,” said Mutula Jnr, adding that Wiper was losing key soldiers, in reference to Muthama and Kitui Senator David Musila who quit only last week. Muthama cited poor management of the just-concluded party primaries and “disrespect” by Kalonzo as reasons for quitting.
The party leader, he said, had ignored other stakeholders to single-handedly pick candidates for governor positions in the region. “He has ignored everyone to handpick people who have been opposed to the party all along.
I will not be party to such machinations,” said Muthama. He recalled how he and others founded the party to democratically empower the rights of the poor, young and the marginalised, an issue he said Kalonzo violates with abandon.
“The recent developments and party decisions greatly disappointed me. A culture of killing democracy has emerged and repression has been promoted by the party leader by imposing candidates and ensuring by hook or crook they become Wiper candidates,” said Muthama.
A visibly angry Muthama said Kalonzo showed disrespect to party founders by bringing on board Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and giving him a direct ticket even before disbanding his Muungano Party.
Other issues are the mismanagement of Kitui county governor nominations between Governor Julius Malombe and Musila. In Machakos, Muthama expressed bitterness with how Wiper entered an agreement with Chama Cha Uzalendo, giving Wavinya Ndeti a direct ticket to wrestle Governor Mutua in the August poll.
He regretted that Machakos deputy governor Benard Kiala was elbowed out after being Wiper’s defender-in-chief since governor Alfred Mutua bolted. “It is the same Kalonzo who imposed Mutua on the people of Machakos in 2013,” he said.
Kiala has since filed a suit protesting the outcome of the nominations in which Ndeti garnered 227,947 votes against his 4,508 in a repeat exercice. The political parties disputes tribunal had nullified an earlier poll in which Ndeti had bagged 299,312 against Kiala’s 4,663.
Muthama said the process was shambolic, alleging the party’s top organ interfered with the polls to deny Kiala justice. “It is no longer a democratic party. I do not have any more courage to campaign for the party because it has destroyed peoples trust,” said Muthama.
Observers say the move may frustrate Nasa’s bid to unseat the Jubilee administration and that the Ukambani region may be too hard for Kalonzo to consolidate.
Mutula Jnr says the coming of other small parties from Ukambani was meant to strengthen the party but not to weaken it. “The prospects of our party leader are completely going down.
If the party leadership is not changed for the better, it may affect Kalonzo’s political life,” he said. Muungano and CCU parties are still independent parties competing with Wiper despite the parties leaders defecting to Wiper and being given direct tickets.
“We have lost both ways. We don’t have a flag bearer, and we are not strong now. After nominations we have weak candidates. Those who are exiting are loyal members and veteran politicians.
The newcomers are just for convenience,” said Mutula Jnr in telephone interview with People Daily. He said the continuous wars would weaken the Opposition, thereby giving President Uhuru Kenyatta an advantage.
Muthama is said to have contemplated changing his political base from Machakos to Nairobi to vie as a senator on an ODM ticket but was reportedly prevailed upon by Raila not to take the drastic step as it would lend credence to the claims he was his sympathiser.
“I will leave with whatever is mine when that time comes,” said Muthma. Mbooni MP Kisoi Munyao said Jubilee would reap the most, considering the circumstances. “Such injustices are the reason I and others left Wiper,” he said.