• Wetang’ula removal influenced by his failure to join the handshake team and speculation that he was having night meetings with DP William Ruto.
• Coup plotters accuse him of dividing the party and ruling it with an iron fist
The bad blood between President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto could have been a factor in the removal of Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula as Ford Kenya leader.
Uhuru’s partner Raila Odinga, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa and Cotu boss Francis Atwoli were all allegedly involved and supported the purge of Ruto’s allies. There are also reports Wetang’ula was meeting Ruto at night.
Wetang’ula appears to have been on the ‘wrong’ side and says he was replaced to find a puppet.
The Star has established that key coup plotters included Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati, a political student of Wetang’ula; Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu, a long-time Wetang’ula confident; Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi, a close friend of the senator and his longt ime rival Wamalwa, CS for Devolution.
Another is Atwoli, who has publicly lashed out at Wetang’ula for allegedly meeting DP Ruto at night. Atwoli, known for his deep pockets, also helped bankroll the scheme to remove the Ford Kenya leader, the Star has learnt.
Wetang’ula has been in the forefront of rebuking Atwoli whom he has described as an “errant old man who thinks he has control of the Luhya community for his personal interests”.
The plotters had met ODM leader Raila at his Capitol Hill office, together with Simiyu, Wamunyinyi and Wamalwa.
Photos of the meeting were circulated on social media and described as consultation about the development of the community.
At that meeting Raila is reported to have expressed his frustrations with Wetang’ula, a fellow principal in Nasa, for ‘blowing hot and cold’.
ODM, through secretary general Edwin Sifuna, has distanced the party leader from the coup, saying ODM was not involved in any way.
Sifuna congratulated the plotters, however, describing them as great political achievers.
“Governor Wangamati, Hon Wamunyinyi and Hon Simiyu Eseli, who, having been Ford Kenya secretary general for such a long time, must have had a prime ringside seat to watch the failure and utter ineptitude of Moses Wetang’ula,” he said.
The leaders then went to meet Atwoli, where the deal was cemented for Wetang’ula’s removal, the Star has been told.
Atwoli is said to have chartered planes for delegates from Western, North Rift and parts of Nyanza who are said to have paid handsomely for their seats.
While Wetang’ula has blamed Raila and Atwoli for his woes, some observers familiar with Ford Kenya affairs say his fall originated with his fight with Wangamati.
“It is clear that when he [Wetang’ula] started publicly pointing out corruption, this did not augur well and Wangamati had no option but to work with his enemies,” political commentator Isaac Wanjekeche said.
He observed that Simiyu and Wamunyinyi have been close business associates of Wangamati and they had no option but to abandon Wetang’ula.
Initially the group had proposed Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka for party leader but Wetang’ula called the MP and pleaded with him not to accept the offer.
The group then decided on Wangamati who declined, saying he was too busy with Bungoma affairs and taking on the Ford Kenya position would compromise his delivery of services.
It finally settled on Wamunyinyi after last-minute consultations.
Onyonka later abandoned the Simiyu-led group and switched off his phone after meeting Wetang’ula at his Karen home.
Simiyu blamed Wetang’ula for what he called dictatorial tendencies and failure to unite the party.
He further blamed Wetang’ula for the party’s dwindling fortunes, saying the party had failed to demonstrate a national presence and take a position on the political ongoing in the country.
“In the recent past, he [Wetang’ula] had failed to give the party directions and was more interested in his personal gain through brokering deals,” Simiyu said.
The Bungoma senator has denied the claims and said the plot was planned by the leader of a Nasa party to remove an independent-minded leader of another Nasa party – an apparent reference to Raila. He said what was wanted was a yes-man others could manipulate.
Wamunyinyi promised to lead the party with openness, saying it was a public entity, not personal property.
“It is unfortunate this party has been led like someone’s personal property where the opinions of others never count. We are going to change that and ensure we revamp the party to its former state,” Wamunyinyi said.
While Wetang’ula is said to be still fighting to remain at the helm of Ford Kenya, those in the know say the coup plotters already had an assurance from the Registrar of Political Parties.
“This thing is sealed and done. We are the bona fide party officials and Wetang’ula should forget about the party,” Wamunyinyi said.
Analyst Wanjekeche said if Wetang’ula loses control of the party, he will take his war back to his Bungoma turf where he will give Wamunyinyi and Wangamati a run for their money.
“I think it is too early for them celebrate because Wetang’ula will be left with no option but to seek public sympathy and his first casualty will be Bungoma Governor Wangamati,” he said.
(Edited by V. Graham)