Sibling rivalry rocks race for Bungoma Senate seat

Newly elected Speaker Moses Wetangula during the swearing-in of MPs before the opening of the 13th Parliament on September 8, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

As affiliate parties prepare to field candidates in the Bungoma Senate by-election, sibling rivalry looms in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

After National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula resigned as Bungoma Senator, the seat became vacant.

The UDA party of President William Ruto has backed former Bumula MP Mwambu Mabonga, which has irritated Ford Kenya leaders.

Wafula Wakoli, Wetang’ula’s long-serving personal assistant, is being supported by Ford Kenya.

Speaking to the press last Thursday after a retreat of Kenya Kwanza MPs in Naivasha, Webuye West MP Dan Wanyama urged Ford Kenya to respect President Ruto’s wish by supporting Mabonga.

“144 UDA Members of Parliament voted for Wetang’ula in the Senate, so he should reciprocate by supporting the UDA candidate for the Bungoma Senate seat,” he said.

Wanyama described Mabonga as an eloquent leader with experience who is best suited to succeed Wetang’ula. Ford Kenya MPs from Bungoma county, led by Woman Representative Catherine Wambilianga, said the seat belonged to a former senator who resigned to run for the position of National Assembly Speaker, and thus it belongs to the party.

“We are ready to defend our seat, which our party leader Wetang’ula left vacant. We have a young man who has been very loyal to the party, and that is none other than Wakoli,” Wabilianga said. Kabuchai MP Majimbo Kalasinga said UDA should opt out of the by-election because the outgoing senator, who is now the National Assembly Speaker, was in Ford Kenya.

“We cannot sell a birthright for a plate of food,” Kalasinga said. “Ford Kenya won only one senatorial seat, Bungoma, and we cannot sell that seat to anyone.”

Kanduyi MP John Makali and his Webuye East counterpart Martin Pepela agreed with the leaders, saying Ford Kenya only won the Bungoma Senate seat in the August 9 General Election and that they will work to keep it. “Other parties should not decide who we should elect; we all know that seat belongs to Ford Kenya, and as affiliate parties in Kenya Kwanza, we must respect each other. If UDA did not field a candidate in the recent elections, why do they want to field one now?” Makali said.

They said they are prepared to campaign on their own. 

“Those who claim the president supports the UDA candidate are spreading propaganda,” Pepela said.