The real forces behind Wavinya Ndeti - Bernard Kiala tussle

Wiper Party Vice-Chair Agatha Solitei (Right) presents a nomination certificate to Machakos County governor aspirant Wavinya Ndeti. (Photo: John Muia/Standard)

Former Chama Cha Uzalendo party leader Wavinya Ndeti’s win over Machakos Deputy Governor Bernard Kiala in the Wiper party primaries for the governorship has exposed the vicious nature of politics surrounding the contest.

The Standard has authoritatively learnt that the bitter contest between Ms Ndeti and Mr Kiala mirrors simmering political differences pitting Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama against Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka in a bid to control the region’s political leadership.

Wiper ticket

Ndeti, a former MP for Kathiani, will now fly the Wiper party flag for the position of Machakos governor in the August 8 General Election.

Ndeti garnered 227,947 votes against Kiala’s 4,508 in repeat party primaries conducted on Saturday, following an order by the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal last week, after the latter challenged earlier nomination results.

The results, announced by county returning officer Jacob Mutula at the tallying centre in Machakos Muslim Township Primary School, set the stage for a contest between Ndeti, the incumbent, Governor Alfred Mutua, and Jubilee Party’s Lemi Muia in the August showdown.

The results of the repeat nominations appeared to vindicate the party’s National Elections Board that had earlier been accused by Kiala and his supporters of cooking up votes in favour of Ndeti, who had initially garnered 299,312 votes against 4,663 for Kiala.

The results showed Ndeti defeated Kiala in all the eight constituencies. In Mavoko, for instance, she garnered 57,719 votes compared to Kiala’s 232, while in Kathiani, she scooped 37,120 while Kiala managed a paltry 146.

Although voter turnout was largely frustrated by heavy rain on the voting day, results posted at all polling stations left no doubt as to who the preferred candidate was for the Machakos Wiper party governor’s ticket.

Political undertones pitting Wiper leader Kalonzo against Muthama emerged for the first time last year, when the party boss, at a political rally in Kilome constituency, publicly accused the senator of “politically bullying” other leaders in the region.

Around that time, Muthama, who was seen as a Wiper strongman, was pushing for the dissolution of smaller parties in Ukambani to ensure that Wiper consolidated its support base ahead of this year’s General Election.

In Machakos County, Muthama had been drumming up support for Kiala, saying he was the best suited candidate to unseat Dr Mutua.

Political intelligence

But according to reliable sources, Wiper leaders were against Kiala’s candidature after political intelligence showed he was not popular enough to defeat Mutua at the ballot.

Kalonzo is said to have willingly bought the idea of talking to Ndeti, who was seen as the only individual capable of smashing Mutua’s political dominance in Machakos.

According to the memorandum of understanding between Wiper and CCU in which Ndeti would run as the governor candidate and Peter Mathuki of Wiper as her running mate, the two would share power on a 50-50 basis should they win the election on August 8.

Last week, Kiala won round one of the battle after the tribunal nullified Ndeti’s nomination that she won in hurriedly convened party primaries. The tribunal ordered the party to conduct repeat polls, with Ndeti emerging the winner for the second time.

“I thank the great people of Machakos for honouring me with this nomination as a Wiper party nominee and I pledge to work with you to slay the dragon of massive corruption and looting of public funds being perpetrated by the current regime if you elect me as your next governor,” an elated Wavinya said in her acceptance speech.