Governor Kivutha Kibwana gets elders' nod and a clash with Kalonzo

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana. [Dennis Okeyo, Standard]

The sibling rivalry between the Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana over the control of Ukambani politics is likely to heat up after the Akamba Council of Elders endorsed the governor’s 2022 presidential bid.

The elders, led by their chairman Boniface Kilonzo and Secretary-General Davies Maeke, on Friday trooped to Kibwana’s residence in Wote town to check on him following a surgery he had in May. It was during the visit that the men drawn from the three Ukambani counties of Makueni, Machakos and Kitui made the declaration.

The elders, representing Akamba people’s 22 clans, first gifted the governor billy goats, prayed for his quick recovery and veered into conversations about the coming political succession.

Kilonzo gave an account of the many efforts by the elders' council to unite leaders from the region to no avail. The elders termed Kalonzo as a defiant leader who has declined to unite the community.

“Ahead of the 2017 General Election, as elders we told Kalonzo to convene a meeting of all the Ukambani leaders, including politicians, the business community, the church, among others, but he refused. He even questioned why we wanted it done so quickly, and told us off,” said Kilonzo.

It was out of such frustrations and failed unity talks that the clan elders resorted to holding talks with the Gikuyu, Embu, Meru Association (Gema) where they coronated President Uhuru Kenyatta as an elder in Kibwezi.

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana. [Dennis Okeyo, Standard]

To this date, the elders believe it was because of their blessings that Uhuru got votes in Ukambani at a time when National Super Alliance (Nasa) was touted as strong in the region. At the Friday meeting, Kilonzo said just as President Kenyatta had the interest of the people at heart, it was now their turn to bless Kibwama, who he said has shown the ability to negotiate firmly on behalf of the community.

“We have resolved to walk the journey with you in your presidential quest because only you seem to understand and listen to our issues,” Kilonzo told Kibwana.

“We give you the blessings to go sit with other contesters and negotiate.”

He added, “We cannot afford not to be in the coming government, whichever route we take. Only you (Kibwana) can take us there.”

Brigadier Nganda, the treasurer of the Council of Elders, said the community needed a firm negotiator at the national table, who would not take crumbs thrown at him for selfish interests at the expense of the community’s interests.

“If you are not at the negotiating table, then you are on the menu. We must send a real negotiator to that table, not a softie who takes loose change for personal benefits,” said Nganda.

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana. [Dennis Okeyo, Standard]

He described Kibwana as courageous.

The retired army brigadier quipped that those waiting for endorsements will get a shock of their lives as Kenyan voters want independent thinkers who can stand on their feet.

Kibwana said he was shocked by the endorsement, saying although it came unexpectedly, he took it as the voice of the larger community. 

“These elders helped the Jubilee government in 2017. We must apologise for not having listened to them. As a community we must sit together and even apologise since we defied them in 2017 elections when they had given us a chance,” he said. 

If elected, Kibwana promised a social and economic governance turnaround including doing clean business.