Even as he builds alliances at the national level, it is emerging that Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has a delicate political house-keeping to do in his Ukambani backyard.
Intense power struggles within Wiper Democratic Movement pitting parliamentary aspirants and MPs has pushed the VP, who is also party leader, into fire-fighting. Friction between the newcomers and incumbents, for instance, is based on fears that the latter will be handed direct party nominations.
The situation has been complicated by the return of MPs who had initially rebelled against the VP. The vacuum created by their absence was quickly filled by a host of aspirants, who are now said to be crying foul.
A case in point is that of Yatta MP, Charles Kilonzo, one of Kalonzo’s harshest critics who even held a one-man press conference to disown the rebranded WDM outfit.
Kilonzo is back trying to wrest the leadership of the party from Nairobi businessman, Francis Mwangangi, who was elected Yatta Branch chairman.
Other perceived anti-Kalonzo MPs, including Water minister and Narc party leader, Charity Ngilu, Youth Affairs Assistant minister Wavinya Ndeti, Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo, Kitui West MP Charles Nyamai, and Kilome MP Haroun Mwau have either reconciled with the VP or gone quiet.
Despite Kalonzo’s repeated assurance that the party primaries will be conducted fairly, a host of newcomers, as well as MPs whose loyalty to the VP is in doubt, remain sceptical.
Critics point at ODM-Kenya’s primaries during the last General Election, which they claim were chaotic. Because of this factor, among others, the party failed to secure four seats – Kitui Central, Kitui West, Kilome and Kathiani.
This time around, however, Machakos Town MP Victor Kioko Munyaka, is convinced the party is committed to a fair exercise: “The fears by newcomers that the VP will side with the incumbents is expected, just in the same way some of us felt in 2007. My opponent, (Daudi) Mwanzia, was particularly close to Kalonzo, but that did not stop me from beating him for the party ticket.”
The VP has on several occasions echoed similar sentiments, the latest being on Thursday during a meet-the-people tour in his Mwingi North constituency. He stressed that the Wiper party will not give direct nomination to those aspiring for elective positions.