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Season of political dirty games as rivals jostle for BBI posts 

Wednesday July 01 2020
BBI

President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre), Deputy President William Ruto) left) and ODM leader Raila Odinga during the launch of the BBI report at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on November 27, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | DPPS

By JUSTUS OCHIENG'

As President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga wait to receive the final report of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), politicians have already started angling for the spoils in earnest.

With all indications that the Steering Committee on the Implementation of the Building Bridges to a United Kenya Task Force has opted for an expanded Executive with slight adjustments to the first report, there has been a flurry of political activity among leaders across the country.

This, analysts say, is meant to elevate them to the national arena in anticipation of bagging top posts.

The Nation has reliably established that the BBI steering committee has settled for an Executive office of a President and a deputy, who will be the running mate, as well as a Prime Minister with two deputies.

The other positions that are likely to be up for grabs include the two Speaker positions – for the National Assembly and the Senate.

The seven positions are likely to be highly contested and political arrangements as a result of coalition agreements will be premised on them, thus informing the regional tugs of war among politicians.

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The final BBI proposal, according to impeccable sources within the steering committee, largely reflects the initial one, with a premier to come from the majority party in the House and elected by MPs.

There shall also be a mix in the Cabinet, with some ministers appointed from among MPs while  others will be technocrats.

And political jostling is already underway countrywide as leaders try to position themselves as regional kingpins.

Political analyst Herman Manyora argues that the battles at the regional level are connected to the 2022 succession politics.

“The 2022 contest will be about boardroom negotiations. Government will be shared out and anybody telling you otherwise is lying to you,” Mr Manyora says.

The government, he argues, will be shared on the basis of regions and big tribes.

“So there cannot be space for more than one Kamba, for example, when sharing those positions. So you want to make sure you are the one and this clearly points to the jostling in the region,” added Mr Manyora.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka recently signed a post-election cooperation deal with the ruling Jubilee and promised to ratify a coalition deal with the President Kenyatta-led party.

With Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu (Narc) staring at an ouster motion in the Wiper-dominated Assembly, political pundits see Mr Musyoka’s hand in the plot to clip Ms Ngilu’s wings and have her play second fiddle in Ukambani politics.

Whereas the MCAs have laid several grounds against Ms Ngilu, the governor has insisted that the motion is sheer “witch-hunt driven by malice rather than the law”.

In the region, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and his Makueni counterpart Kivutha Kibwana have also announced plans to vie for the top seat in 2022, further muddying the waters.

A section of Kamba elders last week annointed Dr Mutua to run for president in 2022. The leaders gave him a quiver, bow and arrows and crowned him as the Kamba community spokesman.

“I accept with humility your proposal that I run for the Presidency in 2022,” said Dr Mutua while addressing leaders from Machakos, Makueni, Kitui, Kwale and Taita-Taveta at the People’s Park in Machakos.

Prof Kibwana announced that he will be on the ballot, saying the move was informed by the voice of the people. “I have listened to the voice of Wanjiku asking me to run for the presidency in the coming election. I am available, ready and willing to be Wanjiku’s president. We must ensure devolution works for our communities,” Prof Kibwana said.

In Western, Prof Manyora says the situation is the same with leaders Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya), Wycliffe Oparanya (ODM) and Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa battling to take the mantle.

So far, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula seem to be in one camp with Mr Oparanya and Mr Wamalwa in the other.

Mr Oparanya told the Nation that their concern is to rally the region as part of the government to benefit from various development projects.

“No region can ever develop while in the opposition,” Mr Oparanya said.

Mr Manyora, however, states that apart from the said projects, the leaders were embroiled in supremacy battles to control the region and consequently be the chief negotiator and spokesperson of the Luhya community.

He pointed out that the situation is no different in Mount Kenya, where he noted that the embattled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and Agriculture CS Peter Munya are also angling to succeed President Kenyatta, who is set to retire come 2022.

“These regional wars will even get nastier as the prize becomes more certain. It is a matter of time,” added the analyst.

Another political observer, Mr Beauttah Omanga, argues that as the clock ticks towards 2022, the only region certain of its political supremo is Nyanza, “as Raila Odinga still has a say and no opponent so far”.

This, he argues, gives Mr Odinga an added advantage over other regional kingpins, including Deputy President William Ruto, who is also facing a challenge from Kanu chairman Gideon Moi and former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto.

Already, Mr Moi and Mr Ruto’s parties, Kanu and Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM), respectively, have entered into cooperation agreements with Jubilee, presumably to check the DP’s influence in the vote-rich Rift Valley.

Mr Moi, who inherited the leadership mantle from his father, former President Moi, has bagged key parliamentary posts, including the powerful Senate Majority Leader seat, which was given to West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio.

It was previously occupied by one of the DP’s ardent supporters, Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who was among those kicked out by President Kenyatta in a purge targeting Dr Ruto’s allies in Parliament.

In the Coast region, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and her Nyali counterpart Mohammed Ali have also been trying to destabilise Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho, even though pundits see Mr Joho as the regional kingpin, at least for now.

Ms Jumwa and Mr Ali lean towards Dr Ruto’s camp.

The removal of Garissa Township MP Aden Duale as National Assembly Majority Leader and the subsequent elevation of Eldas MP Adan Keynan to the position of Jubilee Coalition Parliamentary Group Secretary has also punctured Mr Duale’s influence in Northern Kenya and could probably erode his influence as the clock ticks towards 2022.

Mr Duale has not been critical of the Head of State ever since he was voted out at a PG meeting chaired by President Kenyatta at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on June 22.

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