Shakeup in Wiper under Kivutha Kibwana's leadership

Saturday December 23 2017

wiper party

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana (left) chats with Kitui Senator Enock Wambua at Lee Funeral Home where they had gone to view the body of former Kitui West MP Francis Nyenze, on December 6, 2017. Prof Kibwana is the new Wiper national chairman and acting party leader. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

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Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana has assumed the leadership of Wiper Democratic Movement as part of internal restructuring to fix political cracks suffered during the August 8 General Election that saw top key officials quit after suffering poll defeat.

Prof Kibwana, who was re-elected as governor on a Wiper party ticket after ditching his Muungano Party, is the new national chairman and acting party leader.

He assumed leadership on October 11 when party leader Kalonzo Musyoka left the country for Germany to attend to his ailing wife, who is undergoing specialised treatment.

Prof Kibwana’s first transaction in Mr Musyoka’s absence was to discuss and ratify a post-election coalition agreement with Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu’s Narc Party, as Wiper prepares to restart an outreach programme.

He has also been the face of Wiper party, representing Mr Musyoka in engagements with affiliate parties in the National Super Alliance (Nasa) coalition.

Prof Kibwana has been assuring supporters that the party will ensure Mr Musyoka doesn’t play second fiddle a third time in the 2022 elections.

“Wiper party is on the dance floor seeking potential suitors.

"We haven’t abandoned our political ambitions and we’ll continue preparing for the next elections,” Prof Kibwana said during the burial of Kitui West MP Francis Nyenze this week.

Before the August elections, Mr Musyoka had reached out to Mrs Ngilu, his long-time political rival in Ukambani, alongside other politicians like Prof Kibwana, Mutua Katuku and Wavinya Ndeti, who had opposed his leadership.

However, Mrs Ngilu declined to dissolve her party, which she used to successfully vie for Kitui governorship, saying Wiper already had a candidate in incumbent governor Julius Malombe.

In the new deal, Wiper party will help Mrs Ngilu deliver on her manifesto in Kitui County, where her party has minority numbers in the county assembly.

And she will help Mr Musyoka reach out to other regions.

The new agreement may see Mrs Ngilu seek a second term in office in 2022 on Mr Musyoka’s party, just like Prof Kibwana and Ms Ndeti did when they left their parties, Muungano and Chama Cha Uzalendo, respectively, and were handed Wiper tickets.   

According to Wiper executive director Jared Siso, the partnership will benefit both parties in smooth running of counties, and advance Nasa’s agenda and Mr Musyoka’s 2022 presidential bid.

“We have signed a preliminary agreement. The broader aspects of the deal are being worked on because the parties are in Nasa and both Mr Musyoka and Mrs Ngilu are national leaders,” he said.

Dr Siso said it was on the basis of this pact that Governor Ngilu and Governor Kibwana took charge of the Nasa campaign to boycott the repeat presidential election in the absence of Mr Musyoka.

Party leaders have been meeting under the chairmanship of Prof Kibwana to discuss the restructuring programme and how to fill vacant positions occasioned by the resignation of former senators Hassan Omar (Mombasa) and David Musila (Kitui).

Mr Omar resigned as secretary general last month while Mr Musila, who was the party’s national chairman, quit after losing the Wiper nomination to Dr Malombe in Kitui in April.

Both have since joined President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.

Former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, who had earlier broken ranks with Mr Kalonzo and declined to defend his seat, said that he was back in Wiper.

Mr Muthama said it was wrong for Mr Musila to abandon the party because of internal differences.

A recent Wiper retreat discussed the party’s performance in the last elections, Nasa’s resistance agenda and the political strategies to adopt in growing party membership outside Ukambani.

According to Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua, the party’s National Executive Council and parliamentary group met to evaluate the overall electoral performance and how to deal with several issues going forward.

However, there has been disquiet among supporters of Mrs Ngilu that her cooperation with Mr Musyoka is not being appreciated fully since the party has “sponsored” an election petition against her.

The petition was filed by Dr Malombe. Miambani MCA Alex Nganga and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior said Dr Malombe should be prevailed upon to drop the petition.