Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula’s decision to defend his seat has generated debate.
The Bungoma Senator, who was cleared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on Sunday, has also been offered a bigger seat in the Kenya Kwanza alliance.
In a power-sharing deal, Wetang’ula is slated to become the Senate Speaker while the ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi will be the Prime Cabinet Secretary should the coalition form the next government.
As Kenya Kwanza principals exude confidence that the August election is theirs for the taking, the question on many voters’ lips is why Mr Wetang’ula would bother to defend his seat.
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After presenting his papers on Sunday, Mr Wetang’ula said he was content with the Senate position.
“I am satisfied with my Senate seat and what we are pushing for in Kenya Kwanza is for the benefit of our people.”
Mr Wetang’ula was elected Senator in 2013 and successfully defended his seat in 2017. His political journey dates back to 1993 when he was nominated to Parliament and served until 1997.
He was elected MP for Sirisia in 2003 and served until he joined the Senate.
Between 2008 and 2012, he served as Foreign Affairs and Trade minister. He is one of the longest-serving politicians in the country, which is perhaps why he has chosen to play it safe.
Vihiga Woman Rep Beatrice Adagala says there is nothing wrong with Mr Wetang’ula defending his senate seat.
“In 2007 when Kenneth Marende won the Emuhaya Parliament seat but was later appointed the National Assembly Speaker, he simply resigned and there was a by-election. The same will happen in Bungoma.”
Ms Adagala denies wetangula’s move stems from the fear that Kenya Kwanza will lose. “Kenya Kwanza will take the presidency and rule for the next 10 years,” says Ms Adagala.
But lawyer and political commentator Kennedy Echesa and analyst Dismas Mokua argue that Mr Wetang’ula’s decision is a sign that he doesn’t have confidence that the Deputy President William Ruto’s coalition will win the August 9 General Election.
“If Wetang’ula was confident, he would not have gone for the Senate. He would have concentrated on raising the 70 per cent of Luhya votes required of them. His position will weaken Kenya Kwanza in Bungoma because, as a principal, he does not seem to believe in the party’s chances of winning. He is not sure Kenya Kwanza will raise sufficient numbers of MPs and senators to make his coalition’s position unassailable,” says Mr Echesa.
While appreciating Mr Wetang’ula’s mastery of political games, Mr Mokua argues that he could end up a very powerful man even if his presidential candidate does not win.
“If Kenya Kwanza secures the Senate majority, Wetang’ula may end up as the most significant Kenya Kwanza politician if the alliance does not win the presidency. Either way, Wetang’ula scores an A in political hedging. He did it before under the NASA umbrella.”
Tongaren MP David Eseli and his Navakholo colleague Emmanuel Wangwe agree that the decision to vie indicates his lack of faith in the coalition.
“What Wetang’ula is doing is take insurance because he knows Kenya Kwanza will lose. Choosing to defend his Senate seat is the clearest indicator that he knows that Kenya Kwanza is not going anywhere,” says Mr Eseli, one of the Ford-K members who decamped after their attempted coup against Mr Wetang’ula failed.
They formed the Democratic Action Party (DAP) in December last year. Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi is the DAP leader while Mr Eseli is the secretary-general.
Mr Eseli also blames the Ford-K leader for the loss of Speaker Kenneth Lusaka in 2017 to Wycliffe Wangamati.
“After claiming Lusaka was corrupt and assisting Wangamati to win the governor’s seat in 2017, Wetang’ula is now vouching for Lusaka and claiming Wangamati is corrupt. That is selfishness,” he says.
Adds Mr Wangwe: “Wetang’ula knows that Azimio (la Umoja One Kenya) will win the August elections. He should stop misleading people by hiding behind the Constitution, which he says gives him the right to vie for any elective office. Whatever he is looking for in Kenya Kwanza is purely for personal gain. He knows Kenya Kwanza will lose.”