The entry of Mr Kalonzo Musyoka’s son Mr Kevin Muasya into Kitui gubernatorial race seems to have left his father at a crossroads.
Mr Kalonzo, who seeks to have his Wiper party sweep the top seats in Ukambani counties now has to contend with his son’s choice to be running mate of former Kenyan ambassador to Uganda Mr Kiema Kilonzo.
The two are seeking the Wiper party ticket, which former Kitui Governor Dr Julius Malombe is also eyeing.
Kitui Governor Mrs Charity Ngilu is also defending her seat on her Narc party. The race has also attracted former Kitui Senator and one time Kanu PC Mr David Musila, and former Nairobi deputy governor Mr Jonathan Mueke.
Mr Musyoka’s headache is however on how to give the Wiper ticket without encountering a fallout. Mr Muasya has openly declared his bid and support for Mr Kilonzo, yet Mr Musyoka remains largely neutral.
Mr Musyoka has been pushing for a ‘negotiated democracy’ to avoid a divisive nomination process. This prompted the party to initiate a scientific opinion poll over a month ago to gauge who among the Wiper aspirants for the Kitui seat was popular.
According to the polls results, communicated to the aspirants by the party leader at the Wiper secretariat, Dr Malombe led, garnering 60 per cent support among the respondents drawn from the county’s 40 wards. Mr Musila, who decamped to Jubilee party after discrediting the poll, managed 21 per cent support while Mr Kilonzo came third with 8 per cent.
As a result of the poll results and other intelligence gathered by the party within the county, Mr Musyoka and other party leaders have held three meetings between Mr Malombe and Mr Kilonzo to reach a consensus.
According to party insiders privy to the negotiations, the general mood in the party is to front a candidate who can deliver the seat while convincing the others to stay and support the flag bearer. The one who drops from the race will be promised a slot at the national government should Mr Musyoka’s preferred alliance form the next government.
Sources within Wiper however say that Mr Kilonzo and his running mate have been adamant. They insist that the party’s ticket holder should be determined by the people at a nomination. “They are strongly pushing for a nomination process. However, the party is not for that idea because we are aware that other forces and interested groups outside the party might want to gang up and support the weaker candidate, thus making the party lose in the general election,” said a party official who preferred anonymity.
Mr Musila’s supporters have openly indicated that they will support Mr Kilonzo in the nomination exercise should the party go that route.
While presenting direct tickets to some of the sitting MPs and other aspirants from Ukambani at the Bomas of Kenya last week, Mr Musyoka indicated that the party’s candidate for the hotly contested Kitui governor seat would be arrived at through consensus. “By early next week (this week), I will have concluded the consensus process and will announce Kitui’s flag bearer,” Mr Musyoka announced. Some feel that he has been dithering on the matter due to his son’s entry into the race.
Other analysts, however, say he is more worried by the possibility of his son and the Wiper party losing in the General Election, thus denting his national image. This is due to the fact that the Mr Kiema – Mr Muasya candidature is not popular among majority Kitui voters. Mr Musyoka’s failure to openly root for his son’s candidature has further fuelled speculation that he is not convinced about his bid.
“Kenyans should understand that it is not Kalonzo who is fronting the son. He is actually being used by other people who want to make themselves popular by hiding behind his father’s name,” said Campbell Munyambu, coordinator of Mwingi Professionals Forum.
On his part, Mr Muasya has been on social media and even addressed a gathering in Mwingi North where he praised Kiema.
Speaking during the launch of his manifesto a week ago, Malombe said it would be a waste of time and resources to go for nomination with an aspirant who has scored below 10 percent when he enjoys popular support. He said he deserves a direct ticket.
Last Friday, the party urged its members to vote for their favourite candidates through an online poll for the positions of Kitui governor, Senator and Woman Rep. By yesterday, 7,099 people had responded, with Malombe polling 74 per cent while Kiema polled 13.3 per cent. For the senator seat, current office holder Mr Enoch Wambua scored 81.3 per cent while Mr Allan Kithome scored 18.7 per cent. For Woman Rep, the incumbent Ms Irene Kasalu polled 72.2 per cent, while her competitor Ms Priscilla Makumi scored 27.8 per cent.
Mrs Ngilu has been watching the Wiper intrigues with a studious silence.