CORD co-principal Moses Wetang’ula woes spark off ‘fixing’ claims in his Western stronghold

Supporters of Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula demonstrate in Bungoma town last month after Senate Speaker Ekwe Ethuro gazetted the Supreme Court ruling that found Wetang’ula to have committed an electoral offence. The ruling may lead to Wetang’ula’s name being struck off the voters roll. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

The political woes facing Bungoma Senator and CORD co-principal Moses Wetang’ula have widened the rift between Ford Kenya and New Ford Kenya (NFK) as leaders from the two parties clash over the saga.

Wetang’ula, who is also the Leader of Minority in the Senate, is facing voter bribery charges which may lead to his name being removed from the voters’ register, thus complicating his political future and that of his party.

But as the Bungoma Senator awaits the verdict of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Ford-K and NFK officials are engaged in a blame game over who “fixed” Wetang’ula.

Ford-K Secretary General Eseli Simiyu has accused the NFK brigade of orchestrating Wetang’ula’s woes. Dr Simiyu fired a salvo at Musikari Kombo (NFK), who lost the senatorial seat to Wetang’ula and challenged his win in court, accusing him of launching a conspiracy against the CORD co-principal.

He said the petition by Kombo was the genesis of the woes facing the Senate Minority Leader, but further conspiracy with Jubilee leaders have led to Wetang’ula staring at the possibility of being struck out of the voters’ register.

Grand scheme

“They have been scheming on how to tame him and in the process scuttle the Western vote. Wetang’ula’s woes are a result of Kombo filing a petition to protest election result,” said the Tongaren MP.

But Kombo dismissed the claims, terming them “absolute rubbish”.

“I have nothing to do with what is facing Wetang’ula,” said Kombo.

The former Cabinet minister said he played no role in Wetang’ula’s tribulations and accused the Senator of “taking himself to court”.

“He should not be blaming anybody but himself because he went ahead to the Court of Appeal seeking to remove his name from the bribery offences even after winning the by-election. We have nothing to do with his predicament,” he said.

Eseli also pointed an accusing finger at Moses Lukoye, an ally of the NFK leader and Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka. He accused Lukoye of taking the matter to the Court of Appeal in a grand scheme to fix Wetang’ula.

But speaking to The Standard on Sunday, Lukoye accused Dr Eseli of tarnishing his name.

“I never took Wetang’ula to the Court of Appeal. What interests did I have to do so when the High Court had already ruled that he had committed an electoral offence? He took himself to the Court of Appeal seeking to clear his name over bribery claims,” said Lukoye.

Lukoye said he only wrote to the Senate secretary seeking to know Wetang’ula’s status after the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal ruling that the Bungoma Senator committed an electoral offence. “I am going to sue Dr Eseli. I never took Wetang’ula to the Court of Appeal. I am not Governor Lusaka’s ally either,” he said.

Ford-K Bungoma County chairman Wafula Wamunyinyi also accused NFK of undermining Wetang’ula.

“We know that prior to the gazette notice by the Senate Speaker (on the ruling of the Supreme Court indicting Wetang’ula for electoral offences), some powerful Jubilee individuals met with NFK leaders and plotted on how to finish Wetang’ula. But their tricks will not succeed,” said Wamunyinyi.

The Kanduyi MP said they are aware of the schemes being played by the Jubilee coalition to finish the Bungoma Senator. Ford-K leaders are also blaming Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa for Wetang’ula’s woes.

But speaking in one of the vernacular radio stations, Wamalwa denied playing a role in Wetang’ula’s problems.

“He should not blame us, we are clean. Let him work out a way of saving his political career, we have nothing sinister against him,” said Wamalwa.

Wetang’ula’s political fate now lies in the hands of the IEBC, which may strike off his name from the voters’ roll.

The rift between Ford-K and New Ford-K can be traced back to 2006 when leadership wrangles in Ford-K led to some members breaking away to form New Ford-K.

Two factions

Former Cabinet minister Soita Shitanda and Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale were among the founders of New Ford-K. After performing dismally in the 2007 elections, Ford-K decided to hold elections to change its leaders.

During the party polls, Kombo joined forces with Eugene Wamalwa against a faction led by Wetang’ula which took over the party, resulting in Kombo and Wamalwa joining New Ford-K.

In the 2013 elections, Shitanda and Khalwale decamped from New Ford-K to join United Democratic Front (UDF) party to contest for Kakamega gubernatorial and senatorial seats, leaving New Ford-K in the hands of Wamalwa and Kombo.

Kombo used New Ford-K ticket to contest for Bungoma senatorial seat.

Leaders and supporters of the two parties have been hoping the factions would re-unite for a stronger region, but the recent woes facing Wetang’ula seem have quashed such dreams.