Battle to control Ukambani votes splits Kalonzo allies, governors

A section of Wiper MPs led by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo junior (second left), Kitui Senator Enock Wambua and Women rep Irene Kasalu (left) addresses a press conference at the party headquarters in Nairobi on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 [David Njaaga, Standard]

The battle for the soul of Ukambani took a dramatic twist yesterday when Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka's allies declared that he will not step down for any presidential candidate.

Two governors, however, vowed to steer the community in a different direction.

Addressing the press at the party’s headquarters in Karen, Nairobi, yesterday, Wiper politicians led by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said Kalonzo is still in the race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He dismissed reports that Kalonzo had agreed to support the candidature of ODM leader Raila Odinga and would join Azimio la Umoja Movement campaigns in Thika on Saturday before heading to Kitui.

“We have also seen the rumour and those two issues are not even part of the reason we have called for the meeting,” he said.

Kalonzo will host a political meeting at his Yatta farm in Machakos on Saturday in what is seen as an attempt to stamp his political authority in the region.

Kilonzo Jnr said the meeting will discuss the political direction Ukambani will take in the upcoming polls.

But speaking in Machakos, Governors Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Alfred Mutua (Machakos) vowed to show the Kamba community the political direction they should take in the race to succeed Uhuru. They urged residents to reject leaders out to use them for their selfish interests.

The governors accused the Wiper leader of bringing the region to a standstill for personal gratification.

“Leaders with no development track record have no business representing our community on any negotiation table. Leadership must be development-based and Ukambani region is ready for that change,” said Dr Mutua

He said they will invite all Ukambani leaders to ensure unity of purpose.

“The Lower Eastern region does not belong to any leader. Ukambani belongs to the people and the leaders are the servants of the people. Let us not forget that. Unity of all Ukambani leaders must be development based. That is why all elected leaders must be part and parcel of all negotiations for the community,” he said.

Mutua criticised Kalonzo for calling a leaders’ meeting at his Yatta farm.

“We need a proper meeting of leaders of Ukambani, to plan and strategise on the way forward,” Mutua said.

Prof Kibwana claimed Kalonzo has been leading the region in the wrong direction since 2004 when he was given the Ukambani leadership mantle by the late Mulu Mutisya.

“If we ask ourselves what major development has been done in the Lower Eastern since independence, what can we show, the only light we saw was brought about by Mulu Mutisya’s native wisdom. If we don’t change our card for another 10 years we will not benefit,” the Makueni governor said.