Raila’s hand in formation of DAP-K to lock Western votes

ODM leader Raila Odinga during a ceremony to receive UDA party defectors from Kajiado at Chungwa House, Nairobi. [David Njaaga, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga has pulled another masterstroke albeit behind the scenes by bagging another coalition partner for Azimio la Umoja Movement after the Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K) was launched on Tuesday.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa who is the brainchild of DAP-K was the master of ceremony during the launch at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, where the leaders declared support for Raila.

That creates a new challenge for the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) in Western and for ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi who is expected to launch his presidential bid next month.

Wamalwa had in the past weeks, marshalled support for the new party led by chairman Wafula Wamunyinyi, Kanduyi MP.

Earlier, the CS had covertly pushed the campaign by Wamunyinyi group to wrestle Ford Kenya party from Senator Moses Wetang’ula.

“Wetang’ula has fought battles with Eugene and won but the person behind the current challenge is Raila and his Azimio la Umoja,” said former Cabinet Minister Amukowa Anangwe.

Analysts also see the Azimio team moving into Ukambani for political parties owned by governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos) if Kalonzo remains put in OKA.

But as things stand now, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula must camp in Western and rally the region to the last man, which is no mean task.

Pundits say the leaders must whip up Luhya emotions and put in enough money for their political survival in 2022.

For Mudavadi, the stakes are high, because if he loses the vote-rich Western region, he risks becoming irrelevant after next year's elections.

Prof Anangwe argues that DAP-K ultimately is set to create confusion in the Bukusu voting bloc of Bungoma, Trans Nzoia and surrounding areas with the ultimate aim of denying Mudavadi a substantial number of votes.

He also thinks Raila is looking for a substitute in Bukusu land to fill the gap left after the NASA fallout that saw Wetang'ula and Mudavadi move to OKA.

“DAP-K is just a Trojan horse for Raila given that it is an initiative by Wamalwa whose political territory has always revolved around the Bukusu vote,” said Anangwe.

He, however, believes the new twist may work in Mudavadi and Wetangula’s favour if a perception is created among voters that the new outfit and its owners are surrogates of an external force working to the detriment of their own.

ODM leader Raila Odinga and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi. [Courtesy]

Anangwe says such scenarios have emerged in the past when futile attempts were made to influence voters to reject Ford Kenya, especially in 1992.

He warns that the political value of DAP-K can diminish if not properly packaged across the region and the party may have difficulties taking off.

But political analyst Martin Andati argues that DAP-K could cause problems for OKA because of the determination to dismember the Luhya vote to the advantage of Azimio la Umoja.

The argument is that if Mudavadi does play ball, they will dismember the Luhya nation into bits and pieces and have various parties field candidates across the region.

In so doing, Wetang’ula will be left with a small piece, then Wamalwa and if need be Mukhisa Kituyi will also be facilitated to push for Azimio affiliated candidates.

In Kakamega, ODM will battle it out with Mudavadi and in Vihiga aspirants working for Raila will keep the ANC leader busy.

Andati says the idea may succeed because once they put money in parties affiliated to the ODM leader, they will get some MPs, governors and senators and in the process, get presidential votes.

Pundits argue that the leaders are trying to replay the script of 2007 during the Party of National Unity (PNU) arrangement but the only challenge is President Kibaki ended up with only 32 MPs in Parliament.

Such outcomes where the winner ends up with fewer seats has often led to a contested election as happened in 2007.

Andati’s assessment, therefore, is that Deputy President William Ruto could have more MPs because UDA candidates will be facing a cluster of aspirants fallen out of rival camps.

He, however, believes that Azimio la Umoja will get more governors because Raila appears to have serious candidates so far.

Cognizant of the looming threat for OKA and ANC leader Mudavadi, Lugari MP Ayub Savula, says they will talk to Wamalwa.

“We will tell him not to split our people, because we should first consolidate ourselves behind Mudavadi through uniting the community,” says Savula.

Ford Kenya Party leader Moses Wetangula. [KIpsang Joseph, Standard]

He says what DAP-K is doing is selfish because they are just strategising to be in the next government instead of combining forces with Mudavadi and Wetang’ula.

Savula argues that the scenario will make the Luhya community to continue being a laughing stock by those who have benefitted from their votes.

He warns that splitting the community into camps will deny it the ability to negotiate from a position of strength.

“They are just wasting the community for another 10 years and history will judge them harshly,” the MP says.

Savula welcomes those wishing to register political parties but urges them to consult with other parties in the region and make Mudavadi their kingpin then negotiate after elections if they don’t win.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr dismissed DAP-K leaders as non-consequential because they quit Ford-Kenya long before NASA disintegrated but challenged Wamunyinyi and Simyu Eseli to resign and seek fresh mandate.

The degeneration of the Ford Kenya party began after the fallout between former chairman Musikari Kombo and former Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi leaving it with only one MP.

Kombo later fell-out with Soita Shitanda and Bonny Khalwale who formed the defunct New Ford Kenya party, later taken over by Wamalawa. Credit should however be given to Wetang’ula for reviving Ford-Kenya.