ODM party leader Raila Odinga has asked Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua to rally the Kamba community living in Kibra, Nairobi, to campaign for its candidate ahead of the by-election on November 7.
Mr Odinga and Governor Mutua are expected to address a joint campaign rally at Olympics grounds on Sunday afternoon, to drum up support for Bernard Imran Okoth, the Orange Democratic Movement's candidate.
The surprise move comes two days after ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna declared that the party will form new political alliances after the Kibra by-election.
It has been seen as a response to Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s decision to support Ford Kenya candidate Khamisi Butichi.
The Kamba community in the cosmopolitan Kibra constituency is the third largest after the Luo and Luhya so it is considered a crucial swing group that may decide the outcome of the by-election.
By reaching out to Dr Mutua, Mr Odinga expects to neutralise his partners in the National Super Alliance - Mr Musyoka of the Orange Democratic Movement, Ford Kenya leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula and Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, whose candidate is Eliud Owalo.
Mr Odinga and Governor Mutua on Saturday met grassroots leaders of the Kamba community at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation's offices in Kibra.
It is expected that Ukambani governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) will join them at the rally.
Mr Odinga tasked Dr Mutua with ensuring the significant Kamba vote goes to the ODM candidate, a role Mr Kalonzo would have played had they been on good terms.
Speaking to the Nation, the county chief said they had been discussing ways to collaborate with Mr Odinga, not only for the Kibra mini poll but also for the Building Bridges Initiative.
This closing of political ranks between Mr Odinga and Machakos Governor, who heads Maendeleo Chap Chap party, will not only tilt the Kibra election scales in favour of the ODM candidate but also shape politics in Ukambani region.
Coming only two weeks after Dr Mutua’s party defeated Wiper in the hotly contested Mutonguni by-election in Kitui County, this new found partnership will likely diminish Mr Kalonzo's political standing in a significant way.
Governor Mutua's move will also heighten the battle for the control of Ukambani.
Mr Musyoka, who was Vice President under President Mwai Kibaki regime, was Mr Odinga’s running mate in the last two presidential elections but they have been drifting apart since 2018.
In addition, the Wiper leader's support for Ford Kenya’s candidate is providing a fresh headache as he navigates a tricky political path both in Ukambani and on the national stage.
He said it was in return for the support Mr Wetang'ula gave Wiper in the Embakasi South by-election earlier this year.
Dr Mutua seems determined to capitalise on any opportunity to take the political battle to Mr Musyoka’s doorstep, having declared that he will vie for the presidency come the 2022 general election.
According to political scientist Prof Charles Nzioka, the tapping of Dr Mutua by the ODM leader is an acknowledgement of his growing political influence.
Prof Nzioka, who teaches sociology at the University of Nairobi, said Governor Mutua has emerged as a dependable leader in national politics.
He further said that in view of the disagreements in opposition coalition, his new-found ties with Mr Odinga put Mr Musyoka in an "awkward position".
“The Kibra by-election comes soon after Maendeleo Chap Chap snatched a ward in Kitui from Wiper. It may provide a perfect moment for Governor Mutua to emerge and elbow Kalonzo Musyoka out of the national political table."
Like Mr Musyoka’s Wiper party, Dr Mutua’s did not field a candidate in Kibra but the ODM candidate is being rated higher than the Ford Kenya candidate.
Wiper MPs have largely avoided campaigning in Kibra for Mr Musyoka's preferred candidate but most of them declined to discuss the new developments.
However Mwingi West MP Charles Nguna defended Mr Musyoka saying all parties are competing for political power and that the disagreements in Nasa are not unusual.
“Wiper doesn’t have a candidate in Kibra but it’s obvious that ODM and other parties will use all the tricks in the book, including maligning their partners in Nasa, in pursuit of a win for their candidate. That’s the nature of politics."
Mr Sifuna said their partners in Nasa undermined the spirit of the alliance by fielding candidates to compete with Mr Okoth.
He said ODM will build new coalitions with those who support its quest to recapture the seat left vacant following the death of MP Ken Okoth in July. Imran is the late MP Okoth's brother.
In reference to ANC and Ford-Kenya, Mr Sifuna said, “We have friends from Nasa who want to use the opportunity to formalise their divorce from the coalition."
“Out of this by-election, we are going to count our friends and enemies. New alliances will be formed. We are counting friends such as Maina Kamanda (Jubilee), Cleophas Malala (ANC) and Geoffrey Osotsi (ANC) in this election."