When Wiper chairman Kivutha Kibwana likened dissenters with young he-goats learning the mating ropes and, as such, discouraged party loyalists from admonishing them, he sparked laughter and grumbling in equal measure among the audience.
“Nthenge yi wia wayo wa kwongela mbui kyuuni. Lakini ila nthenge ikwika wia usu wayo veo tuthenge tungi twithwaa vau utee natwo tuyenda okwika undu usu. Indi tuthenge tu tuyuwaawa,” he said in Kamba.
(The work of a he-goat is to increase the number of goats in a pen. While at it, however, the he-goat will often encounter young he-goats who are learning to mate. These young he-goats are not supposed to be killed),”
Prof Kibwana made the remarks at Komarock in Machakos County in April during a meeting called to urge Kamba unity in the wake of the March 9 reconciliation between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Ukambani — which had voted overwhelmingly for the opposition coalition Nasa — was smarting from last year’s election loss and what was seen as the departure of Mr Odinga from Nasa, and was grappling with a real need to chart a new political path.
Those who spoke at the event called for Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka to emulate Mr Odinga and to move with speed to enter into a post-election deal with President Kenyatta to keep his presidential ambition alive.
Prof Kibwana’s call to Mr Musyoka to put his house in order first by wooing and accommodating dissenters received a huge backing on social media.
It is this call which made the two leaders disagree, the effect of which has been differences which have been playing out in the open ever since.
This week, Prof Kibwana hit out at Mr Musyoka again, in the clearest pointer yet to the widening rift between the two leaders in the wake of simmering disquiet in the largest political party in Ukambani.
The Makueni governor is among Wiper leaders who have questioned a deal Mr Musyoka has struck with President Kenyatta saying that it is not designed to benefit the Kamba community because it is structurally wanting, and that, as such, it sounds a death knell to the community's development dream.
"To what extent have we as regional political leaders helped the South Eastern people to access holistic national development? Even when we got a chance to visit State House recently, we did not prepare adequately to engage the President in a development dialogue the way the NASA leader is currently doing," he said in a statement.
The sentiments came days after Mr Musyoka openly spoke about his deal with President Kenyatta for the first time.
The deal has seen Mr Musyoka land a lucrative envoy job, the restoration of his security detail, and the employment of a handful of his supporters in government agencies.
Shortly before he declared that he would work for President Kenyatta, Mr Musyoka had rallied Wiper MPs to State House where he presented a controversial list of 9 projects he wished the government would undertake in Ukambani.
STATE HOUSE MEETING
Wiper MPs who spoke to Sunday Nation after the State House meeting decried the fact that they were not consulted in coming up with the list.
“MPs have complained severally that the listed projects are not evenly distributed across Ukambani,” a Makueni MP told Sunday Nation in confidence.
Mr Musyoka told a rally at Nguni Primary School in Kitui County last Friday that he had agreed to work with President Kenyatta "to boost his fight against corruption, while ensuring a cohesive and peaceful country".
This explanation — which was preceded by virulent attacks by Wiper MPs who had accompanied him at the event and which were directed to those questioning the deal — spoiled Mr Musyoka’s chance of persuading, among others, Prof Kibwana who was once seen as his confidant and his adviser.
Convinced that Mr Musyoka’s deal has little to offer for Ukambani, Prof Kibwana has even joined elites questioning the former vice president's commitment to developing the region.
"Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka has been in office since 1985, (Charity) Ngilu since 1992, (Kivutha) Kibwana since 2002 and (Alfred) Mutua since 2013. May be it is time for the community to summon us including (former Machakos Senator Johnstone) Muthama to account for our past work and future vision on behalf of our people," he said.