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Ukambani leaders push for unity pact ahead of 2022 polls

By Erastus Mulwa | October 6th 2021

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka in Nairobi on August 29, 2021. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Leaders drawn from the South Eastern under the auspices of Akamba Leadership Forum held a day-long strategy meeting aimed at charting the way forward for the community ahead of next year’s General Election.

The meeting, convened in Machakos town on Tuesday by the Archbishop of the Africa Brotherhood Church, Timothy Ndambuki brought together representatives from the clergy, top political leaders as well as senior Akamba elders to strategise on the community’s game plan as the clock ticks towards 2022 polls.

This comes as the community’s top political leaders appear to pull in different directions sending signals that the lower Eastern bloc may split votes in the presidential election.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, outgoing governors, Alfred Mutua (Machakos), and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) have declared interest in the presidential race.

While Kalonzo has been popularising his presidential bid under the One Kenya Alliance bringing together former NASA principals Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi, Prof Kibwana has entered into coalition talks with Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and former secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Dr Mukhisa Kituyi.

On the other hand, Dr Mutua, who is also Maendeleo Chap Chap leader launched his presidential bid a year ago and has been crisis-crossing different parts of the country popularising his State House bid.

He has held talks with various political leaders for possible pre-election coalition arrangements.

It is this state of affairs that appears to have thrown the Kamba community off-balance politically, with analysts warning that time was fast running out and the community risks being rendered politically irrelevant on the national stage before and after the 2022 elections.

Kangundo MP Fabian Muli said it was critical for all the stakeholders to heed Archbishop Ndambuki’s call for the political unity of the community in order to guarantee a stronger bargaining power in the country’s succession politics.

“It is dangerous for the Kamba community to approach the next elections divided. That is why it is critically urgent for all those concerned to heed to Archbishop Ndambuki’s call for unity of direction,” Muli told The Standard in an interview.

The MP said politicians must be ready to sacrifice their ego and selfish ambitions for the interest of the community.

“This cycle of our community being left out of the Government after every General Election has become the curse of the community and we must all unite to ensure it will not happen this time around,” he said.

Although details of what was discussed in the Machakos meeting remain scanty, it is clear pressure is mounting on leaders to ensure the community presents a united front in the elections.

Among the key resolutions were that Ukambani must be part of the next Government and be open to negotiations with other formations.

The leaders also resolved that the local leadership must work with the next Government to draw a development plan for the region.

There was also a push to have the politicians work under one coalition so as to put the region’s votes in one basket.

In reference to President Kenyatta’s advice to local leaders during his recent tour of Ukambani, Archbishop Ndambuki decried the politicians’ failure to read his message “between the lines.”

“We convened this meeting with respect to President Uhuru Kenyatta because when he recently toured the region he advised us how to conduct our political business but it appears the political class has failed to heed that advice. As leaders we must go back and interrogate what the President meant because in his own words, he said unity was the region’s single greatest problem,” said Ndambuki.

 “We have realized regretfully that the community is running behind time in the planning of our politics and development. We are telling our people from this region that we have a plan,” he said.

Leaders who attended the meeting include Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, former Machakos Senator, Johnstone Muthama, representatives from Ukamba Council of Elders, Atumia ma Thome and the Kamba Clans Governing Council.

Last week, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr accused Kibwana and Mutua of actively pursuing presidential ambitions alongside Kalonzo.

“It is only in Ukambani where we have three presidential aspirants. While other regions have decided to support their respective leaders, here, we have Mutua and Kibwana who are in the race for the presidency too. Who bewitched us?” Posed Mutula.

However, the governors have been of the view that the person who deserves the backing of the community should have the capacity to attract support across the country.

Kalonzo has successfully rallied Ukambani behind him in past in the past elections despite the strong presence of Kitui Governor and Narc leader Charity Ngilu.

He was ODM leader Raila Odinga's running-mate in the 2013 and 2017 elections and President Kenyatta is reportedly keen to have the two work together in the 2022 polls.

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