The leadership of the Wiper Democratic Movement will next month hold a public meeting to counter the growing rebellion in Ukambani against its leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
The party wants to use the convention to take on the three governors - Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) - from the region who have caused panic within the party ranks owing to their plans to rally the community towards a different political direction.
Part of the agenda of the meeting, according to those involved in the planning, will be to prove to the country that Mr Musyoka’s support is intact, both at home and away, and to assure his supporters that the rebellion does not in any way threaten his quest for the presidency.
With several by-elections scheduled for April 5, among them Embakasi South where the party is keen to ensure that Mr Julius Mawathe recaptures the parliamentary seat, the split has piled more pressure on Mr Musyoka.
A section of party leaders are concerned that the Komarock meeting being pushed by former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama may trigger more political divisions and escalation of the rivalry that may cost the party the seat.
With ODM party, their partners in the Opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa), having declared that they’ll nominate former MP Irshad Sumra, the moderates in Wiper are urging Mr Musyoka to approach the rebellion by the governors with caution to avoid jeopardising the party’s chances in the by-election
If Dr Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap party nominates a candidate for Embakasi South, the populous Kamba vote which propelled Mr Mawathe to Parliament will be split in the ensuing campaigns.
Mr Muthama is expected to host the meeting at Kiamba Primary School near Koma market, Matungulu constituency, in Machakos County in early February.
According to Mr Muthama, the meeting will unveil Mr Musyoka’s key political pillars from other regions to prove that he commands support beyond the three counties, and that he, and not the three governors, is the community’s best chance of occupying State House.
The governors say that the community does not stand a chance of winning the presidency through Mr Musyoka based on past record.
“From today, these governors should brace themselves for political war. We’ll invite Kalonzo’s supporters from all the 47 counties to the meeting at Komarock to demonstrate to the world his presidential bid enjoys support, not just from within Ukambani but across the whole country,” Mr Muthama said.
He added that Wiper party would not take the rebellion lying down, hence ready to counter the narrative propagated by the three county chiefs that Mr Musyoka should retire from active politics after his two-decade political dominance of the region.
“I want to challenge Prof Kibwana and Dr Mutua to organise a rally at Tononoka in Mombasa or in Maasailand, if they manage to attract 1,000 people I’ll ask Kalonzo to quit politics in their favour.”
However, the former legislator appeared to blame his party boss for the rebellion, saying he warned Mr Musyoka against cooperating with the governors before the 2017 General Election.
Had the party heeded his advice, he said, Prof Kibwana would not have been allowed to defend his seat on a Wiper ticket.
“I disagreed with Mr Musyoka on working with them. These are our own blunders; had he listened to our caution we would not be dealing with this problem because they would not have won the elections,” he said.
Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu confirmed that the party is planning the convention but said the venue and the specific day had not been firmed up.
Mr Mulu said the party acknowledges the development issues being advanced by the governors but opposes their political stand.
“We want to be clear that on matters development we fully support the governors, but on condition that they don’t use their platforms to mislead the community and undermine our leader for selfish political gains,” Mr Mulu said.
His comments were echoed by Mwingi West MP Charles Nguna who said the party will not waver in demanding accountability, and that it is wrong to blame Mr Musyoka for their squabbles with county assemblies.
“Our party leader should not be used as a scapegoat whenever ward representatives demand answers from the governors. It is their work, which is clearly spelt out in the Constitution,” Mr Nguna told the Sunday Nation in response to claims that Mr Musyoka is behind the infighting in the counties.
The governors have said the Kamba community needs fresh leadership that is more focused on developing the region and negotiating strongly for national resources.
Since last week, they have held a series of strategy meetings and agreed to trade among themselves to cop development.
On the intra-trade agenda, the three agreed to buy all garments such as county staff uniforms for their respective hospitals from the newly established Kitui textiles factory (Kicotec), while Makueni Fruit Factory will process all the fruits produced in the region.
Primary and secondary schools in Makueni and Machakos will also be encouraged to buy uniforms from the Kitui factory, in the plan seeking to retain the more than Sh7 billion that parents in the region spend buying school uniforms from manufacturers in Nairobi.