Salasya, a honourable MP who does not care about decorum

Mumias East MP Peter Salasya is whisked away by security after chaos erupted during a funeral at Munjiti Primary School in Khwisero on May 6, 2023. [File, Standard]

Mumias East Member of Parliament Peter Salasya is fast developing infamy for violence. And unlike other legislators, he doesn’t give a hoot about decorum.

On several occasions, he has been arrested for violence and causing bodily harm.

The first-time legislator, despite having found himself on the wrong side of the law several times, appears unrepentant.

He is easily identified by his trademark unkempt hairstyle and near-inebriated look.

The MP is a darling of boda boda riders in Mumias and Kakamega. Whenever he is in town, he stops to address them, sometimes walking around town and causing commotion. 

Salasya flew off the handle last Friday and assaulted Peter Walunya, MCA of Malaha-Isongo Ward, at a funeral in Mumias. The MCA had handed over the microphone to Salasya and stepped back when Salasya ordered him to go and sit down but the MCA stayed put.

Arrested for assault

Infuriated, Salasya rushed at him and slapped him. The MP was later arrested for assault and causing bodily harm contrary to section 251 of the penal code. He was later released on Sh50,000 cash bail and will be arraigned today. 

At another function in Mumias attended by Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa, chaos ensued after an infuriated Salasya took off the dais in a flying tackle to hit someone in the audience who had heckled him.

Psychologist Cecilia Mutemi, who has had time to study Salasya’s antics, says the MP is most likely suffering from an underlying issue that makes him hot-tempered or that he is simply seeking attention. 

“People raised in violent homes know that the only way to express oneself is through violence. In other cases, it could be an overlooked mental issue. Ordinarily, normal people think before acting, but when one acts and thinks later, there is a problem,” Mutemi says. 

Salasya also found himself in trouble after Kakamega businessman Robert Lutta sued him for refusing to repay a Sh500,000 loan.

After Kakamega Resident Magistrate Gladys Kiama ruled in favour of Lutta, Salasya took to X, formerly Twitter, to issue threats to the magistrate.  

Not contented, he also assaulted Luta’s lawyer, Edwin Wafula, on November 2, 2023. The lawyer reported the incident at the Kakamega Police Station under OB No 02/11/2023.

Wafula has sued the MP in a civil suit.

Kiama served Salasya with a demand letter and the MP later apologised. Kiama has yet to sue him formally. 

Eugene Wamalwa, leader of the Democratic Action Alliance, the party that sponsored Salasya to Parliament, says they have received complaints against Salasya from many people. 

“We have talked to him and I will be meeting him on Wednesday after his appearance in court,” Wamalwa said, adding “he is a young man, a promising leader, and we will mentor him. He will be counselled accordingly." 

In 2017, unknown and without two pennies to rub together, Salasya vied for the Mumias East MP seat but could only garner 200 votes. 

In 2022, he also offered himself for the seat. Again, he did not have any money and did not print campaign posters. Boulders along major roads in Mumias were his posters, and to date, some still proclaim the message "Vote Salasya for MP”. 

Salasya won with 12,140 votes against his closest competitor, David Wamatsi of ANC, who got 9,043 votes.

“Between 2013 and 2014, Salasya was a born-again Christian and never missed a church service,” said a constituent who wishes to remain anonymous. "At some point, he gave a testimony in church that God had enabled him to get a good paying job at the Bank of Baroda in Kakamega, prompting the bishop to ask him to drop from political activism and focus on the job”. 

Salasya studied for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Egerton University.

At Egerton, he was a student leader who campaigned on empty pockets but still trounced opponents. He has a knack for connecting with people and indeed, is at home with those at the lower strata of society.

In a research poll published by Infotrak in November 2023, Salasya was ranked among the top-performing MPs, coming third after Ndindi Nyoro of Kiharu who scored 70 per cent, and Naisula Lesuuda of Samburu who scored 66 percent. Salasya scored 64 per cent. 

In his constituency, Salasya has built classrooms and toilets and never fails to condole with the bereaved in his constituency.

Much of his differences with some leaders from western Kenya arise from politics around the revival of Mumias Sugar Company. Some local leaders have been opposed to the Sarai Group of companies, the investor in Mumias Sugar, from taking over the management of the company. Salasya, on the other hand, supports the investor, which has set him on a collision path with the leaders. 

President William Ruto's 'mambo ni matatu' warning to those who had made Mumias a battleground, which led to a withdrawal of litigation against Sarai, played out in Salasya's favour and he is determined to see Mumias regain its former glory.