Politicians who would ordinarily not shake hands in public and opt for each other’s throats if they met in a dark alley found themselves sharing a platform where they were supposed to exchange pleasantries.
This is the situation that strange bedfellows have found themselves in as a result of the coming together of Deputy President William Ruto’s UDA, Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC and Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya.
The tour of Westlands superintended by Mudavadi and Wetang’ula offered a snapshot of what awaits the alliance in other parts of the country.
Foes who are supposed to battle it out in the August 9 General Election found themselves in the same convoy as ANC, UDA and Ford Kenya leaders drummed up support for Kenya Kwanza alliance.
At one point, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and former Starehe MP Margret Wanjiru exchanged harsh words after the former apparently refused to surrender a microphone to his rival to greet the people. The senator and former MP will face off in the Nairobi governor race on ANC and UDA tickets, respectively.
There was a clash between supports of the two leaders at City Park. The crowd jeered Wanjiru who then blamed Sakaja for being behind the action.
“We are leaders in Nairobi. I deserve respect,” the former MP said, wagging her finger at the senator. Unlike other joint rallies conducted in Baringo, Nakuru, Bungoma and Kirinyaga, Ruto was absent in yesterday’s caravan.
After the Wanjiru-Sakaja scuffle, Mudavadi took charge during stopovers and invited the legislators and aspirants to address the crowds. Kenya Kwanza alliance leaders asked voters not to elect ODM leader Raila Odinga, branding him a state project.
The leaders claimed Raila’s Azimio la Umoja Movement was a State project created to entrench the status quo - a widening gap between the rich and poor and a floundering economy. They said Kenyans want a leader of their choice and not a puppet. Mudavadi urged voters to make the election decisive.
Ruto allies claimed President Uhuru Kenyatta was intent on extending his influence in the government beyond his retirement later this year by having Raila succeed him.
Mudavadi was accompanied by legislators Rigathi Gachagua, Kipchumba Murkomen, Kimani Ichungwah and Kithure Kindiki. Former Senator Johnson Muthama and former Kiambu Governor Ferdinard Waititu were also present.
Other areas where friendly fires are expected are Kajiado, where Ruto’s allies Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko and her Kajiado South counterpart Katoo ole Metito will lock horn for the governor’s seat. In Narok, a similar nightmare is expected to unfold. Labour Chief Administrative Secretary Stephen ole Ntutu, Narok Women Rep Soipan Kudate and Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo, all Ruto allies, have declared interest to succeed Governor Samuel Tunai.
In Western, observers are keenly watching to see whether Ruto’s quest to scoop majority votes will bear fruit.
From past experience, the region is known for dramatic fallout among politicians in election seasons, making it a free for all zone for presidential candidates, and the script is once again being re-written.
Rivalry in the region began during the one party Kanu era, when ministers like Moses Mudavadi and Elijah Mwangale used to deny government critics like Masinde Muliro, Martin Shikuku and Wamalwa Kijana political freedom.
Prof Amukoa Anangwe who was with Mudavadi, Wetang’ula and former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo in Kanu traces the fallout at the time to the preference that was given to the ANC leader by the independence party. “It was a political supremacy battle in Luhya land when Moi created regional posts in Kanu but prior to that, the relationship was cordial,” says Anangwe.
Their differences and verbal exchange played out in public rallies for several years, when Jirongo continued attacking Mudavadi whose star appeared to be shinning as the former’s flickered in turbulent political winds.
But as things stand, Mudavadi the former Nairobi School and Mean Machine rugby player, is already running the front lines in the UDA-led Kenya Kwanza team.
Reports indicating that Ford Kenya will be allowed to field candidates in Bungoma and Trans Nzoia by the alliance have caused jitters among UDA MPs led by Sirisia MP John Waluke.
Waluke knows that the DP values his contribution because of the many visits he has made to Sirisia and the support he gets there.
Although by bringing Wetang’ula on board, Ruto is looking at the bigger picture of galvanizing as many votes as he can in the region and building his own profile around the country, the Sirisia MP appears uncomfortable. Analysts say Waluke could be spoiling for another duel with the Ford Kenya leader which could complicate matters for UDA and the Lion party in Bungoma.
But the bigger battle expected to unfold, is the one pitting Wetangula against Defence CS Eugene Wamalwa in what can be described as season three of their never ending political drama series.
“Mudavadi and Wetang’ula have already committed suicide and their place has been taken by visionary leaders from the community,” Eugene told an Azimio leaders meeting in Kakamega on Monday.
Similar sibling rivalry in Mt Kenya region has so far been witnessed in Kirinyaga governor race pitting Governor Ann Waiguru and Women Rep Wangui Ngirici and in Nakuru between Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri and Senator Susan Kihika.