Makueni Governor and Muungano Party leader Kivutha Kibwana says he made the decision to step down from top level Azimio engagements because the space at the top has been constricted to lock out non-Wiper members.
Kibwana says since Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s arrival in Azimio, their operating room as independent parties within the coalition has dwindled.
In an exclusive interview with the Standard, Kibwana said his position as a member of Azimio flagbearer Raila Odinga’s presidential thinktank was invalidated on account of new realities, and it has been difficult finding a spot to stand on.
Kibwana’s Muungano Party signed into Azimio before Wiper. Previous attempts by the party, alongside Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap, to force through a “fourth leg” in Azimio hierarchy hit a dead end last week.
According to a gazette notice of proposed leadership structure in Azimio Coalition Party, only their Kitui counterpart Charity Ngilu (Narc) was accommodated at the top. “I took time to think through this over Easter. It’s not easy to force yourself where people do not want you, and where you know very well you can bring value. I have to step back,” Kibwana said.
He said Kalonzo has more or less made it clear that he does not wish to work with him (Kibwana). He said he sees, feels and smells it every day in his interactions with Azimio leadership.
“We are totally locked out. It’s as if things will not move until we are out. I then wonder, if he truly wants Azimio to win, why then lock out those of us who have the ability to deliver? And for some of us, it is not really about positions, it’s about what we can do for our candidate,” he said.
However, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua dismissed Kibwana's claims as baseless. He said the most important thing right now is to rally behind the Wiper leader so that the community can reap the most in negotiations.
"We will not be distracted. The issues in Azimio are slightly beyond the grumblings of a single member. Our irreducible minimum right now is to get Kalonzo to be the running mate. Kibwana should join us in this venture if he means well for the coalition," Wambua said.
But Kibwana said he is not bolting out of Azimio. He says he’s taking time to “go local” since there is too much unnecessary heat at the top. “Since it looks like there is no space for us up there, we have decided that we will do our local thing. I will focus on local politics,” he said in the interview.
He feels the infighting within the community would, in the end, disenfranchise it in sharing of power. Yet, Kibwana is himself part of the fights pitting his side and Kalonzo’s Wiper.