The shock resignation of Kitui Senator David Musila as Wiper party national chairman on Thursday not only exposed the bitter political fallout within the party but also threw the Kitui gubernatorial race wide open.
Despite being a founder member and the national chairman to boot, the warning signs that Mr Musila had fallen out with the “party owners” had long been on the wall.
Admittedly, the move now makes him a rank outsider in the affairs of the party that he’s taken more than a decade to build.
The senator was among Wiper political bigwigs who assumed that by virtue of their seniority in the party, they would get automatic endorsement to vie for senate and gubernatorial seats, without being subjected to the “indignity” of nominations.
However, during a rally at Kwa Vonza market in Kitui County, in January this year, party leader Kalonzo Musyoka publicly told Mr Musila, his longtime political ally to drop his bid to unseat Governor Julius Malombe and instead defend his Senate seat
The former Vice President said the two should defend their respective seats to avoid unnecessary internal conflicts.
Mr Musila hit the roof, accusing his party boss of shielding Dr Malombe from internal competition and skipped, in protest, Mr Musyoka’s subsequent rallies in Ukambani to mobilise residents to register as voters.
Mr Musyoka was probably sparing the party from the internal bruises of a Musila-Malombe clash which at the time he feared could boost the fortunes of former Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu, who is also eyeing the seat on a Narc ticket.
The following week, signs of looming political fallout became clear after the senator mobilised all the ten Kitui MPs to declare their opposition to the Wiper leader’s preference to Dr Malombe.
However, the last straw that broke the camel’s back came when the senator challenged his boss against bolting out of the opposition National Super Alliance.
Mr Musila categorically declared that Wiper party will not be dragged out of Nasa and that if Mr Musyoka wants to leave, he will pursue that ambition alone.
“If our party leader decides to run the presidential race on his own outside the Opposition umbrella, he will go that route alone” Mr Musila told journalists in Kitui.
He said the party leadership had a huge responsibility of providing the best political direction for its supporters across the country and that there was no room for a third force to win the elections.
A visibly angry Mr Musyoka had to shelve his campaign rallies in Kisii to respond to the threats issued by Mr Musila, senators Johnstone Muthama (Machakos) and Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni).
He felt his party chairman and political confidant had turned from being his number one supporter to a critic and was now creating unnecessary tensions in the opposition coalition.
Mr Musila and Mr Musyoka have been political buddies for many years when they both served as MPs for the neighbouring Mwingi South and Mwingi North constituencies but started drifting apart last year.
Mr Musila blamed his nomination loss on the party leader whom he accused of orchestrating his political downfall by imposing “an unpopular candidate of his choice on Kitui voters”
“The party leader ordered the results generated by my opponent to be announced at Kitui tallying centre without reference to the National Elections Board officials” he told a press conference at Parliament buildings.
The former Vice President declined to comment on the claims only saying Mr Musila was his elder brother whom he respects a lot and would not wish to argue with him through the press.
He downplayed his resignation saying “having declared that he will run as an independent candidate, obviously he couldn’t continue being our party chairman” and also extended an olive branch to him saying as Nasa coalition, they will be there once they form the next government.
During the nomination campaigns, Mrs Ngilu’s supporters openly rooted for Dr Malombe as the grapevine has it that the incumbent would be easier to beat at the main ballot than Mr Musila.
According to Mr Muema Wilson, a businessman and close associate of Mrs Ngilu’s, they hoped that once Mr Musila is defeated at the primaries, their candidate will have a better chance of winning the election.
LOST TO MUSILA
“We have done our arithmetic and we know the best political scenario for Mama Ngilu. We’re all in Nasa and our supporters will vote for Dr Malombe in the Wiper nominations” he told the Nation.
The former CS lost to Mr Musila in the 2013 senate race and she wants to avoid a repeat of the same or an unpredictable three horse race with a candidate from Mwingi region.
However, with the party nominations now water under the bridge, the battle lines are now already drawn and the three candidates Mr Musila, Dr Malombe and Mrs Ngilu will square off at the ballot in August.
The three candidates, who are allied to Nasa coalition are equally strong and each is exuding confidence of emerging victorious but two main factors will determine the outcome.
The regional balance and sharing of top three county seats - the governorship, senate and woman representative comes into play now.
With the Wiper party leader who hails from Mwingi side, like Mr Musila being on the National Super Alliance presidential ticket, the expectations Kitui voters have is that the governorship will be retained in Kitui region by either Dr Malombe or Mrs Ngilu.
“Kitui voters will be opposed to giving both the deputy president and governorship or the “two presidencies” as they are being referred to in this year’s campaigns to the same region and this may complicate matters for Senator Musila” said Alex Nganga, the county assembly Minority Leader.
Former journalist Enoch Wambua who won the Wiper party senatorial ticket hails from Kitui West Constituency while Dr Irene Kasalu, a university lecturer and new entrant into elective politics won the woman rep nominations is from Mwingi Central.
However, Senator Musila is capable of getting votes from across the county and if he manages to rally his stronghold of Mwingi Central, Mwingi West and Mwingi North behind him, he can spring a major surprise and embarrass his former party and its boss.
If the 2013 voting patterns are anything to go by, Kitui South and Kitui East constituencies may provide the swing vote in this year’s election with Kitui Rural and Kitui West being the battle grounds for the three candidates.
Mr Musyoka is expected to campaign for his Wiper party nominees including Dr Malombe but Mrs Ngilu says the three candidates should be left on their own to convince who is best suited to run the county.