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Generation change tune fades away as young leaders made to eat humble pie

By John Shilitsa | September 15th 2019

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa addressing the media at Parliament on Tuesday November 20, 2018 dismissing the Two Third Gender rule. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Efforts by a new crop of young and ambitious politicians from Western to edge out the wealthy old guards in the region could have hit a brick wall.

The onslaught by the budding leaders might have crumbled even before it took shape, with seasoned politicians tightening their grip on their dominance of the region’s politics.

Among the key political figures that have dominated western Kenya politics for decades include ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula, former presidential candidate Cyrus Jirongo and Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa.

These big names appear to have edged out the emerging young turks who dared challenge them.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa and his nominated counterpart Godfrey Osotsi had come out as the face of the new western Kenya leadership.

Barasa told Sunday Standard they are in no hurry to replace Mudavadi and Wetang’ula but will continue to champion social justice and push for the welfare of the region’s people.

“It has nothing to do with generational change. Slowly, new leaders will emerge. It is a natural process just like in the case of Kijana Wamalwa who commanded support beyond Western,” he said.

The MP said he meets regularly with other young leaders from the region like Osotsi and Kakamega Senator Cleopa Malala.

“What is critical is for us to work together for the common good of our people,” he said.

Osotsi said it is time for young leaders to take on challenges affecting the region.  “During the fight for multiparty democracy, young leaders like Kiraitu Murungi and James Orengo were on the frontline,” he said.

He said young leaders should look to the wisdom of their seniors. “We will help shape the future of our region by the guidance of old guards, we cannot wish them away just yet,” he said.

Speaking to Sunday Standard, Osotsi said he respects Mudavadi but is motivated by the leadership of ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Vibrant youths

Osotsi almost lost his seat after the ANC party successfully petitioned the Registrar of Political Parties to delist him from the party register, effectively paving way for his removal from Parliament.

He successfully challenged the decision at the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal (PPDT). He claimed that he is the one who recruited Mudavadi into ANC and also secured the name of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) with the registrar of political parties when Mudavadi had been stripped of the United Democratic Forum (UDF) by its owners.

Senator Malala has been vocal but is warming up to his party leader Mudavadi.

But the senator insists Mudavadi must find a way of joining forces with Raila or else they will engineer a coup in the party’s top leadership.

“If Mudavadi chooses to work with (Deputy President William) Ruto, we will front (Vihiga Senator George) Khaniri as our presidential flag bearer because the senator will work with Raila,” Malala was quoted saying at an event in Mumias East.

Other vibrant youthful leaders from the region are Lugari MP Ayub Savula, Foreign Affairs Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba and former Sports CS Rashid Echesa.

ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna, a close ally of Malala and Osotsi has also indicated that the Western leadership deserves new blood. Frank Matanga, a political analyst, believes the new comers stand a chance to influence a political revolution in the region.

“Most of the younger leaders are well educated, which is an added advantage. They would need to have a grasp of the issues people want addressed, including a solution to traditional rivalry between the Bukusus and Maragolis,” said Prof Matanga, a political science lecturer.

The Bukusu and Maragoli are the two biggest Luhya sub-tribes from which Wetang’ula and Mudavadi come from respectively.  

According to Matanga, cultivating and building confidence in the people could just work for these new crop of leaders.

“All they need to do is win over the electorate,” he said.

Political analyst Martin Andati, however, warned that the youthful leaders with burning ambitions risk ruining their political careers.

“In politics, one has to play his or her cards with caution. Insulting others and exalting yourself can only destroy your career however bright it looks,” he said.  

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