Kenya Kwanza leaders have embarked on a three-day tour of Western Kenya starting with Musalia Mudavadi’s home ground - Vihiga County - in a bid to starve ODM leader Raila Odinga of support in the vote-rich region.
Buoyed by his new-found dalliance with Deputy President William Ruto, ANC leader Mudavadi led the campaign convoy as it made its through Luanda and Majengo to Mbale grounds.
Mr Mudavadi and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula said Mr Raila owed them a political debt for supporting him in the past elections. The two said they expected Raila to reciprocate.
Mudavadi recalled how he supported the ODM leader in 2007 and 2017 “but our efforts were never appreciated”.
He wondered why his decision to work with Ruto ruffled feathers within Azimio la Umoja Movement, the coalition on whose ticket Raila is set to contest the presidency.
“They kept calling me names and threatening that I should not be seen taking photographs with certain leaders,” he said.
According to him, the support he had accorded Raila earlier was enough.
“I have supported Raila for long and it is time I make my own plans moving forward with the people of Kenya in mind. I urge my foot soldiers to remain steadfast and make sure the entire region is painted in Kenya Kwanza Alliance colours,” he said.
Mudavadi said ANC, UDA and Ford-Kenya were all driven by a common agenda of reviving the economy and uplifting the lives of common citizens.
He explained that they opted to team up with Ruto because they have a common agenda to revive the economy and create opportunities for thousands of jobless youth in the country.
“Our focus is on reviving the dwindling economy and addressing the huge debts that have resulted from over-borrowing,” said Mudavadi.
According to him, he and Wetang’ula had decided it was time they looked for new friends.
“We have stood with Raila for many years but he has always betrayed us but this time we have decided to work with like-minded friends with whom we share same interests and vision which is to help the people of Kenya,” said Mudavadi.
Wetang’ula asked voters not to rally behind Azimio la Umoja.
“We will not take the path have been using in the past elections; our people will now vote for leaders who have their interest at heart rather than those who have betrayed us in the past,” he said.
Addressing the gathering, Ruto said he was happy because he had managed to convince Mudavadi and Wetang’ula to team up with him.
“I was here a few weeks ago and you told me to ask my brothers to join me. Today I am here courtesy of Mudavadi and at his backyard ready to ask for your support,” he said.
He urged voters from the region to support the bottom-up economic model and rally behind the new alliance.
Once again, Ruto insisted that Raila was a government project. Raila is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to attend the African Union Assembly. He is the union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa. He has in the past denied the accusation of being a government project.
Yesterday, however, Ruto further alleged that the ODM leader’s presidential bid was backed by the rich who are keen on protecting their wealth. He claimed that Raila and the Azimio la Umoja Movement were State projects meant to protect the interests of few influential Kenyans.
“Kenya needs leaders who can make a difference in people’s lives, that is why I decided to unite with my brothers Mudavadi and Wetang’ula, so that we can save Kenyans from greedy leadership,” said Ruto.
He criticised Azimio la Umoja leadership and cast doubts on the formation’s ability to win the August election.
“Their agenda is to change the Constitution and create additional political seats for a few individuals,” he said. “We have united to show those who want to lead in different direction of changing the Constitution, Kenya Kwanza Alliance is focused on changing the lives of all Kenyans, not some individuals”.
When it was his turn to speak, Wetang’ula, the Ford Kenya leader, said Ford Kenya and ANC will now work towards uniting the western region under Kenya Kwanza Alliance.
The leaders crisscrossed all the five constituencies of Vihiga, starting from Luanda, and making their way to Emuhaya, Vihiga, Sabatia and Hamisi. They made stopovers at Luanda, Majengo, Hamisi, Serem and Mbale town where they asked voters to support their alliance, which they insisted had a national representation.
Among the politicians who attended the rally were Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, Vihiga Woman Representative Beatrice Adagala, Vihiga MP Ernest Adagala, Sabatia MP Alfred Agoi. Others were Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa and Kabuchai MP Majimbo Kalasinga among others.
“We don’t want to be told who to support, that is why we ask President Uhuru Kenyatta not to plan for Kenyans who will succeed him,” said Nyoro.
The possibility of Mudavadi sharing a podium with Ruto was unthinkable a month ago.
Though the DP had demonstrated willingness to work with the ANC leader, the latter held out until January 23 when the made the announcement to team up with Ruto during the party’s delegates conference. He described the announcement as an “earthquake”.
His move has since been sharply criticised by among others, various political leaders from Azimio as well as Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli.
Yesterday, large crowds jammed market centres where the leaders made stop overs to campaign for their alliance ahead of the August elections.