Western leaders seek elusive unity ahead of 2027 and 2032

Talks have gained momentum aimed at maximising the influence of the Luhya community.

In Summary

• Spearheaded by Wetang’ula, movement brings together heavyweights, signalling a pivotal moment in region.

• Tensions threaten to scuttle unity process, notably between Trans Nzoia Governor Natembeya and Wetang’ula.

Image: National Assembly speaker Moses Wetangula with some of the leaders from the Luhya community in a meeting at Keekorok lodge, Maasai mara in Narok in January, 2024.

Western politics is undergoing a seismic shift as leaders embark on  concerted efforts to consolidate the region's votes.

The talks that have gained momentum are aimed at maximising the influence of the Luhya community.

The focus, it has emerged, is 2032 where they intend to front one strong candidate for the presidential seat.

But, prior to that, they are rallying behind a unified front ahead of the 2027 general election. 

Spearheaded by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, this movement has brought together a spectrum of political heavyweights, signalling a pivotal moment in regional politics.

Wetang’ula has orchestrated a coalition encompassing MPs, governors, and senators.

At a recent meeting held at Kholera ward in Matungu, Wetang’ula underscored the historical significance of the Luhya unity, noting that it has had a ripple effect on the economic status of the region.

He cited the establishment of Masinde Muliro and Kibabii universities, which have bolstered the economic landscape of Kakamega and Bungoma towns respectively.

“The journey has started getting recognition. I am happy that governors have also joined the move. Leaders who were there before us like Masinde Muliro, Moses Mudavadi and Kijana Wamalwa expect us to walk together,” Wetang’ula said.

The meeting followed an inaugural consultative forum held in January at Keekorok Lodge Maasai Mara in which Wetang’ula was present.

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa emphasised the importance of unity among leaders, highlighting the collective aspiration of clinching the presidency in 2032 while strategically positioning for success in 2027.

“Tomorrow’s journey begins today. As Mulembe nation, we should stop reading the book of Lamentations and instead read from the book of Revelation. We want to walk the journey together to be in government in 2027 as we prepare for the presidency in 2032,” he said.

Lugari MP Nabii Nabwera, who is the Western MPs' caucus secretary general, said despite having existed for a short period, the legislators from the region have made great strides in forging a common front.

The caucus brings together lawmakers from several parties including ODM, ANC, Ford Kenya, and UDA among several others.

“When you see us coming together, just know we are ready to face whatever that comes. Most MPs especially from Kakamega are in ODM but we come from somewhere before we become ODM members and that is Mulembe nation,” Nabwera said.

Dagoretti North MP Beatrice Elachi called on leaders at the regional event to unite and ignore tribal lines and their counties of origin.

Elachi, who is a first-term MP in Nairobi, asked senior leaders, including Speaker Wetang’ula, Prime CS Musalia Mudavadi and ODM deputy party leader Wycliffe Oparanya to develop tolerance for the community and the whole nation.

"Politics is about interest and not love. If you see people walking together, don’t start asking which county they come from, all Luhyas are the same. When you come to the negotiating table, then look past the language you speak or the county you come from,” Elachi said.

However, underlying tensions within the region as illustrated by the discord between Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya and Wetang’ula are threatening to scuttle the unity process.

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale is also at loggerheads with Governor Barasa.

Natembeya has expressed reservations regarding the direction of the Luhya community's political trajectory, citing longstanding divisions and marginalisation within the political landscape.

"I have some reservations about the direction our community is taking. The Speaker's position has been granted to the community for almost 30 years, but the Luhya still remains divided. There is no unity. When it comes to government positions, the Luhya community is left behind," he insisted.

In response, Wetang’ula warned him against the continued attacks, noting the divisions he was creating would cause more harm for the Luhya community come 2027.

“As a region, we want to be somewhere come 2027 but it will be impossible to even convince other communities to support us if we continue fighting among each other. We want the community to speak in one voice,” he said.

Natembeya is currently fronting the Tawe movement in the region.

Responding to this, Roots party leader George Wajackoyah urged leaders from the region to address internal conflicts, recognising the detrimental impact of internal strife on the broader unity agenda.

“We should sit with Natembeya and tell him not to castigate fellow leaders in public. There is a lot of war here, so Wetang’ula, if you want the presidency, start by uniting leaders fighting amongst themselves,” he said.

Wetang’ula has maintained he is not fighting anyone but uniting leaders.

The caucus has more than 40 leaders from Kakamega, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Nairobi, Taita Taveta, Mombasa and Busia counties.

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