New political alignments are emerging in Kisii County, with leaders holding strategy meetings ahead of next year’s General Election.
For the last few months, the leaders have been criss-crossing the county preaching the importance of community unity but quietly plotting how to capture and retain various seats.
Of note is Senator Chris Obure, who is leading a band of leaders, including MPs, from the region in what is seen as a clandestine push to wrestle Governor James Ongwae’s seat through so-called “community unity rallies”.
In a recent interview with the Saturday Nation, Mr Obure said all he wants is to be is a “change agent that will redeem the county from inept leadership”.
“All I am seeing is a compromised leadership that has failed to develop the county despite the huge resources. The roads are pathetic and the health system is headed for the morgue. Surely we can do better,” said Mr Obure, who on Thursday took a group of MPs to State House to ‘‘discuss development issues in the region”.
“If I vie (for the governor’s seat), I will do so because of the poor development,” said the senator adding: “Many people have been calling me in the dead of night complaining about the slow pace of development in the region.”
If he joins the race, Mr Obure will also have to contend with South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya. Businessman Lumumba Nyaberi is also expected to throw in his hat for the second time.
Mr Nyamweya has said his bid for the governorship is “unstoppable’’ and described his competitors as ‘‘lacking substance’’.
He has even urged Mr Obure to retire from politics. “He has not achieved anything meaningful for the community in the last 40 years … what else does he thinks he can do as governor?” he asked.
Mr Nyamweya said he has settled on the Kenyan National Congress (KNC) for his ticket and picked Amasago Secondary School deputy principal Innocent Mogunde as his running mate, in what he calls the Third Force.
He says defecting to KNC was due to “lack of fairness in ODM’s nomination process”.
“I have had ugly run-ins during the party’s nominations and clinging to it will be a foolhardy,” Mr Nyamweya said.
His concerns are shared by Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka, who has also shifted allegiance from the Orange party.
Mr Onyonka is in the Obure camp that many think will eventually join a party that may be sympathetic to the ruling coalition.
Despite his confidence, Mr Nyamweya will face an uphill task to defeat Mr Obure and Mr Ongwae, who is sure to get the Orange party ticket. Mr Obure says the unity rallies will continue.
“We are unstoppable and whoever thinks they will block us is gravely mistaken. You cannot challenge positive politics,” he said.
He rebuffed claims that the meetings were scheming to deny Governor Ongwae a chance in the elections.
“This is where you media people get it all wrong. All communities around us are coalitions and we should not be viewed with exception,” he said adding: “We have invited Governor Ongwae and others that are heading in the wrong direction.”
Rattled by the tide of the ‘‘unity bid’’ caucus, the Kisii governor is said to be setting up a parallel team to counter the Obure camp.
Last week, he is said to have met former Nyaribari Masaba MP Prof Sam Ongeri and Nominated Senator Janet Ongera, among others, to counter the Kisii unity caucus.
The group is also said to be roping in former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara.
Mr Ongwae, however, told the Saturday Nation he has not attended the unity rallies because “I have not been invited”.
He also reads political mischief in the meetings. “Are you sure these meetings are any good? If they are for unity then they should invite leaders across the divide. Personally I am waiting for one,” Mr Ongwae said.
He says his administration had achieved a lot in the county. Among his major successes, he says, are in the health sector, improved water supply and street lighting, which has spurred a 24-hour economy in the county’s 42 market centres.
He says his impressive development record, will give him a head start in his quest to recapture the seat.