Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka is faced with a difficult moment on his party’s choice in the Kitui West parliamentary seat by-election slated for March 26.
The seat fell vacant barely three months after the former MP, the late Francis Nyenze, was sworn in for another term.
Daggers have already been drawn with a swelling list of candidates contemplating to replace Mr Nyenze, who was first elected MP in 1997-2002 and 2013 to the date he died.
Kalonzo is in a dilemma owing to increasing pressure from leaders in Kitui County led by Governor Charity Ngilu and Senate Enoch Wambua who propose Nyenze’s widow, Edith Vethi, be awarded direct nomination to fly the party ticket during the mini-poll.
On the other hand, the NASA co-principal is walking a tight rope to avoid any fallout with former Cabinet minister and family friend Nyiva Mwendwa whose son, Maluki Kitili, has also declared interest in the seat whose race could turn into a battle royal between two powerful families.
Nyenze, who had been fighting colon cancer for nine years, died on December 6 and was buried three weeks ago at his Kyondoni village home in Kauwi location.
Mr Maluki’s entry into the race and decision to seek the Wiper ticket is seen as defiance to his mother who during Nyenze’s burial backed Ngilu in endorsing the late MP’s wife to succeed her husband.
However, friends and political pundits say with or without endorsement, Maluki will be on the ballot.
During Nyenze’s burial attended by NASA principals Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang'ula, Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi, Ngilu and her Makueni counterpart Kivutha Kibwana, a section of leaders fronted the widow to take her husband’s leadership mantle and succeed him as MP.
Area ward representative Jane Mutua told the widow to rise up, wipe away her tears and get ready to step into her husband’s shoes and lead the constituents to where Nyenze desired.
Ms Mutua’s words were immediately echoed by senators Enoch Wambua (Kitui), Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni) and Ngilu, who declared their support for Nyenze’s wife.
By that time, Kalonzo was in Germany, where his wife, Pauline, was being treated but when he jetted into the country, he went to condole with the bereaved family on December 28.
The former Vice President side-stepped Ngilu, Kibwana and other leaders’ push to name Edith the sole Wiper candidate for the by-election and maintained the party would give each candidate an equal opportunity to contend for the ticket.
“No, no I don’t want to take that root my sister Ngilu. I mitigate carefully before making any decision. Let’s give all aspirants a level chance to seek the party nomination to build confidence and trust in the party now and in days to come,” Kalonzo replied before shifting to national politics.
The electoral agency has announced that voters in the constituency will go back to the polling booths on March 26.
A section of Kitui West MCAs immediately opposed a proposal for Nyenze’s widow to succeed her husband.
Felix Baridi Mbevo (Mutonguni), Munyallo Kitheka alias Yaamu (Matinyani) said locals had not been consulted on how the seat would be filled.
The MCAs said it would be wrong for anyone to try to impose an unpopular candidate on the electorate.
“The seat should be left open, for anyone who is interested to contest. As elected leaders, we disassociate ourselves from the public statements,” the two leaders said a joint statement.