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CS Eugene Wamalwa, the power broker gaining popularity in Western

Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa is a politician loved and loathed in equal measure.

He is vibrant, articulate and endowed with oratory skills like his late brother, the former Vice President Kijana Wamalwa.

CS Wamalwa cuts the image of an accomplished politician with a good understanding of the rules of the game.

He is arguably one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trusted Cabinet Secretaries and astute politician whose elevation to the powerful Defence ministry set tongues wagging over his role in succession politics.

At the same time, Mr Wamalwa’s past 15-year political career has confounded friends and foes alike.

If he is not fixing deals with the government of the day, he will be courting trouble in his Bukusu backyard with Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula or spoiling for a fight with ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi.

The CS is the patron of the newly formed Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K). He has promised to help ODM leader Raila Odinga win the August 9 General Election.

Mr Wamalwa told The Standard he would like to be on the right side of history and help the people of Western to be in government.

According to him, the region will be guaranteed development only if it will be in government.

“I wish Mr Mudavadi and Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula would stop misleading the people of Western by leading them into the opposition,” the seasoned lawyer said.

The CS believes Mr Odinga will complete development projects initiated by President Kenyatta in Western and initiate new ones if elected.

“I have predicted correctly past presidential race winners and August 9 is not an exception. Mr Odinga will form the next government,” said Mr Wamalwa.

Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula have dismissed CS Wamalwa’s assertions, labelling him an enemy of the Luhya unity.

The duo believes Mr Wamalwa is being used by Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to split the Western vote.

Mr Wamalwa, just like his late brother, is a shrewd politician who is keen on choosing partners.

Defence Cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa, making his remarks at Democratic Action Party Of Kenya(DAP-K)Party Headquarters office Kilimani in Nairobi. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Prof Nyukuri Barasa from Bungoma said, “Mr Wamalwa is walking in the shadow of his late brother Kijana Wamalwa.

“He has mastered the art of politics, the reason he is always on the right side of government every electioneering season. He supports a side that is likely to win.”

According to Mr Barasa, the Defence CS places himself strategically and is able to read the writing on the wall and align himself with the formidable team.

“He is like someone who goes to the market to sell cows but he has none himself, yet he attracts customers. At the end of the day, he will sell cows at the market as a broker and go home with more money than those who had cows,” Mr Barasa said.

He went on: “He formed New Ford Kenya after falling out with Mr Wetang’ula in 2011 and negotiated with the Jubilee government, earning himself a Cabinet slot.

“He is again using DAP-K to position himself for a Cabinet position in Mr Odinga’s government in case the former PM wins.”

Mr Barasa said CS Wamalwa’s survival tactic is the reason he is keen on delving into elective politics.

“He prefers playing the role of a power broker whose interest is to be in government,” he added.

But former Federal Party of Kenya (FPK) official Andrew Kutitila says CS Wamalwa’s star is rising because he has filled the void left by Mr Wetang’ula and Mr Mudavadi who joined Deputy President Ruto’s camp.

“It is clear CS Wamalwa is trying to fill the leadership void in Western, a role he is playing well,” Mr Kutilila said.

“Apparently, it is the first time CS Wamalwa is supporting Mr Odinga because he knows the ODM chief stands a better chance of forming the government and may lead for just one term. Who knows, he may pass the baton to someone from Western,” said Mr Kutitila.

Having served as Devolution Cabinet Secretary, Mr Wamalwa believes Mr Odinga will protect devolution.

“It is clear CS Wamalwa could be the Western region kingpin in 2027 and that would place him in a good position to run for President.

“Mr Odinga has State machinery that is propelling him to power. Come 2027, he will use the same machinery to propel CS Wamalwa based on the political environment at that time,” said Mr Kutilila.

CS Wamalwa is buoyed by recent mass defections by ANC and Ford-K legislators who have joined DAP-K in what is widely seen to have dented the influence of Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula in Western.

ANC MPs led by Ayub Savula (Lugari), Peter Nabulindo (Matungu), Oku Kaunya (Teso North) and several MCAs have defected to DAP-K. Former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende, who had joined ANC, also defected to DAP-K.

CS Wamalwa, 52, first tried his political luck in the Saboti by-election running on the little-known Republican Party of Kenya but lost to Mr Davies Nakitare of Narc.

In 2007, the CS contested again on a Ford Kenya ticket under the PNU umbrella and managed to trounce Mr Nakitare.

President Kibaki appointed him Minister for Justice in May 2011, a position he held until April 2013.

Speaking in Emuhaya a couple of weeks ago, CS Wamalwa urged the Mulembe nation to rally behind Mr Odinga’s presidential bid.