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Season of defections as politicians seek to clinch seats

Season of defections for politicians

Political realignments perhaps prove the long-time adage that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies.

The August 8 elections have forced former fierce political foes to come together with the aim of clinching various seats.

With just five months to the elections, the political realignments being witnessed perhaps prove the long-time adage that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies.

Four opposition chiefs came together and formed a political coalition, the National Super Alliance (Nasa).

The agreement brings together Mr Raila Odinga (ODM), Mr Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Mr Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) and Mr Musalia Mudavadi (ANC).

In 2013, Mr Mudavadi turned out to be Mr Odinga’s biggest critic after jolting out of ODM.

Mr Mudavadi then blamed Mr Odinga of failing to return the favour and support him for the presidency as he did to him in 2007.

Speaking to the Nation, Mr Mudavadi said that there is need for the opposition leaders to work together for the best interest of the country.


Former ambassador to Tanzania, Chirau Ali Mwakwere, who was a fierce critic of Mr Odinga recently jumped ship and joined the opposition.

Mr Mwakwere first moved to ODM before defecting to the Wiper party following claims of hostility by Kwale ODM branch officials.

He has since denied ever joining ODM.

In Nyanza, a recent move by immediate former Cabinet minister Sam Ongeri to join ODM and an endorsement by Mr Odinga sparked a debate in the political arena.

Prof Ongeri and Mr Odinga have been political enemies for years.

So bad were the differences that at some point Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo sensationally claimed Prof Ongeri wanted to murder Mr Odinga, claims the former minister vehemently denied.


Prof Ongeri said that he was happy in the opposition and would work hard to ensure that Mr Odinga carries the day in the region.

“I am in ODM and I will support Mr Odinga for the country’s big job. A time has come when we must focus on the interests of the people,” he said.

And by supporting Governor Ongwae for a second term, Prof Ongeri got supporters by surprise as the two were in different parties in 2013.

Prof Ongeri had backed Governor Ongwae’s opponent, Mr Lumumba Nyaberi, in the 2013 elections.

Kisii Senator Chris Obure, who played a key role for the opposition in the region in the last elections, has already decamped to Jubilee and will be running for governorship.

Mr Obure, who supported Governor Ongwae in 2013, has turned out to be his fiercest critic.


“My breakup with Governor Ongwae was caused by massive corruption cases and mismanagement of funds in the county. That is why we are not together now,” Mr Obure told the Nation by phone.

Senator Obure enjoys the backing of majority of MPs from the region, including some he never shared ideologies with.

A good example is Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti who publicly endorsed Senator Obure for the county’s big job.

The two have been rivals since early 1990s as they competed against each other for the Bobasi parliamentary seat.

But with the new political twist in Kisii, the two have come together, burying the hatchet and championing for what they term as “giving people better services”.

Speaking to the Nation, Mr Manoti said that a time has come for all leaders and the community to unite towards a major cause.


“We don’t have permanent enemies or friends in politics. We realised that our fights were stumbling blocks to development [and that is the] reason we started the unity campaigns,” said Mr Manoti.

In western region, Ford Kenya deputy party leader Boni Khalwale broke ranks with Mr Mudavadi the leader of the party that sponsored him to the senate and started working with Mr Odinga.

This angered Mr Mudavadi who labelled him a rebel who only used the party ticket for his own selfish gains.

Speaking to the Nation, Dr Khalwale said that politics neither has permanent enemies nor friends.

He said that what the politicians have are permanent interests - to be elected or re-elected.


“If you are surprised by how politicians are [joining various camps], then you have not taken interest on how they are even changing their names,” said the senator.

He cited names like those of senators Kimani Wa Matangi (Kiambu), Mike Mbuvi Sonko (Nairobi) and his common name, “bullfighter”, which he said will be replaced by Shindi Shindu.

He also said that the main reason he moves from one party to another is not for friendship but for political survival.

“I hop from one party to the other after every five years because the country also gets a new political configuration and if leaders will not consider that then be sure they will lose,” he said.


Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba, who was the ODM secretary-general decamped to the Labour Party of Kenya (LPK) which he currently leads.

Mr Namwamba has also joined the list of Mr Odinga’s critics from the western region.

It is worth remembering that eight years ago, Mr Namwamba attempted to swear allegiance to Mr Odinga, and not the President (Mwai Kibaki), during the swearing in of MPs after the 2007 elections that were followed by violence.

Also, late 2016, Funyula MP Paul Otuoma, who had turned against Mr Odinga and joined Mr Namwamba, changed his mind and vowed to work with the opposition chief.

The two shook hands at the funeral of legendary footballer James Siang’a and Mr Odinga said that Mr Otuoma will go on serving as the ODM vice chairman.

Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi also broke ranks with Senator Obure whom he had already said he would back for governorship.

The two, who had been holding public rallies in Kisii, have since gone separate ways after Mr Maangi declared he would go for the governor’s seat.

"I will be running for governorship. This is because many people have asked me to do it and I will not look back," he told the Nation.