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Ngilu’s tough battle to stem Kalonzo tide

By By Erastus Mulwa and Onesmus Nzioka | January 7th 2013
Water Minister harity Ngilu [Photo: File/Standard]


By Erastus Mulwa and Onesmus Nzioka

Kitui, Kenya: Supremacy battles between Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Water Minister Charity Ngilu are expected to reign supreme in the Lower Eastern region as the March 4 General Election beckons.

The two, who have since settled in Cord and Jubilee coalitions respectively, are expected to stage a major political battle where each is expected to deliver a substantial bunch of votes to their respective coalitions.

Having relinquished their bid for the presidency, both Kalonzo and Ngilu have to work tooth and nail to ensure their respective alliances triumph in the slightly over one million vote-rich region.

Although Ngilu’s last-minute decision to ditch the Cord alliance led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to join the Uhuru Kenyatta-led Jubilee coalition is widely viewed as an attempt to spoil the party for the VP, Ngilu has consistently insisted she believes Jubilee alliance has an agenda for the change Kenyans have been yearning for.

Ngilu had through her much publicised tours to the three counties of Kitui, Makueni and Machakos, sought to assure her supporters that her engagement with the  TNA-URP alliance would bear better fruits compared to the Wiper-ODM-Ford-Kenya in which the VP has been named the running mate of the coalition’s presidential flag-bearer.

She is on record saying she holds no grudge against the PM, and that she decided to quit the coalition because of Kalonzo, who she claims, is not only a non-reformist but also a self-seeker.

The Kitui Central MP has on her side Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo also from Kitui County, but not a single legislator from Makueni and Machakos counties appear to support her stand.

Kalonzo’s clout

Analysts say Ngilu, who has been promised the post of House Majority Leader should the Jubilee alliance ascend to power after the General Election, is reeling under intense pressure to mount a firm opposition to Kalonzo’s perceived influence in Ukambani region.

Although recent reports have opined that the Uhuru-led Jubilee alliance has not zoned Lower Eastern region as one of its major political strongholds, sources privy to the Jubilee alliance’s strategies intimate that massive political campaign resources have been set aside to shake up the region.

But Kalonzo’s camp seems unfazed by the Ngilu factor. For one, a substantial clout of sitting MPs and opinion leaders have thrown their weight behind the VP and particularly his decision to quit the G7 political alliance that was accused of sidelining him on the basis of lacking adequate numbers in the Kamba voting bloc.

Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama, who initiated and led political negotiations between Raila and Kalonzo, told a recent rally in Tala town that the Cord coalition would be unshakable in Ukambani. Muthama, whose political stake is believed to have hit a sky high after brokering the reunion of both the PM and VP declared that any politician who will try to go against the Cord wave will be swept to oblivion.

Agenda for region

“We want to put it into your ears that anyone who will go against the Cord alliance is an enemy of the Kamba nation, and should be punished through the power of the ballot. The coming General Election will be a contest between those that are out to pull the community behind, and champions of progressive politics,” declared the Kangundo MP.

Mr Wambua, a Kalonzo supporter from Makueni, says Ngilu has lost direction, cannot be trusted and those working with her should be careful not to be betrayed by her as she did to the PM and President Kibaki.

“Ngilu appears to have lost direction. She has lost grip of her political maneuvers and anyone admitting her to any engagement should treat her with caution,” he says.

Ngilu on the other hand has been criticising Kalonzo strategists’ rallying call that the Kamba people should fall behind the VP because he is ‘their son’.

She says such politics belong to the past and the VP should sell his agenda to the people based on what he has done for them for the close to three decades he has been holding powerful positions in government.

“Where was Kalonzo when the people of Ukambani were starving? Where was he when our people went without water? Where was he when other people initiated development projects to support their home regions?” she posed.

“I have outlined my five issues that will offer a solution to the problems facing Kenyans and which all leaders in the Jubilee coalition have agreed to support once we form the government in March,” she adds.

The Ngilu-Kalonzo supremacy battle is likely to be worsened by the Kitui County Senate and gubernatorial contests that each of the two leaders is fighting to dominate.

Ngilu faces the toughest battle contesting the Kitui Senate seat against Wiper’s party chairman and Kalonzo’s right hand man David Musila, who until Ngilu’s entry into the senate race was viewed by many in Kitui as the man to beat.

Bruising battles

Musila, like Johnstone Muthama and Education minister Mutula Kilonzo hold a crucial role in the Cord, and analysts say voters would be unwilling to let them go because they are Kalonzo’s pillars in the coalition.

The three have hit the ground running to rally support for Senate seats in Kitui, Machakos and Makueni respectively after successfully midwifing an alliance between the VP and PM. The three are also some of the strongest anti-Ngilu and Jubillee campaigners that the Kitui Central MP will have to contend with in wooing the Kamba vote bloc to the Jubilee coalition.

The gubernatorial race pits Ngilu’s fanatic supporter Kiema Kilonzo against Wiper’s Isaac Muoki and Kennedy Ngumbao who unsuccessfully challenged Ngilu for the Kitui Central parliamentary seat in 2007.

During the New Year celebrations both Ngilu and Kalonzo were at their rural homes trying to woo supporters to their coalitions, with each exuding confidence their alliance will carry the day on March 4.

Though the Lower Eastern region has emerged as a stronghold of the VP, the Jubilee Coalition is said to be lining a sizable chunk of resources and a line of rallies to woo the community to its side, obviously to disappoint Kalonzo and install Ngilu as the Kamba kingpin.

Ngilu and Kalonzo have engaged high gear in trying to stamp their authority majorly in Kitui County, their home county, which has presented the electorate with a hard choice to make, but also given them an opportunity to be in government if either Jubilee or Cord forms the next government.



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