DOROTHY JEBET: Will the Ukambani fallout hold to ’22?

A file photo of Wiper chief Kalonzo Musyoka with Narc leader Charity Ngilu at English Point Marina in Mombasa. /JOHN CHESOLI
A file photo of Wiper chief Kalonzo Musyoka with Narc leader Charity Ngilu at English Point Marina in Mombasa. /JOHN CHESOLI

On April 2 last year Ukambani political leaders, with the exception of Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and the three Jubilee MPs, attended a meeting at Kiamba Primary School.

They were all smiles as the leaders stood clapping and cheering. And for good reason: Kamba kingpin and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka had buried the hatchet with his political nemesis, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu. Former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana watched with glee and satisfaction.

Ngilu pledged her unwavering support to Kalonzo for his 2022 presidential bid. “Don’t worry about votes at home. Your responsibility is to hunt for votes from other regions as I vouch for you here at home,” she told him.

This closing of ranks brought so much hope in the region that at last, the ever-quarrelling seniormost politicians were indeed ready to work for the good of their people. Wrong thought!

Barely nine months later, the hatchet has been brandished and sharpened. This time round Kalonzo’s homegrown enemies have doubled, nay, tripled.

Ngilu has made a 180-degree turn against the same man she vowed to support in 2022. She has instead decided to “work together with like-minded politicians”. In her circle now are Kibwana and Mutua.

It is easy to pinpoint why Mutua almost broke his legs trying to embrace Ngilu. For the past few years, the doctor and the Wiper founder have not seen eye to eye over the running of Machakos county. The other factor that drove a wedge between Mutua and Kalonzo is the claim of former Kathiani MP Wavinya Ndeti to the governor’s position. After several appeals and counter appeals, Mutua’s victory was upheld by the courts.

Last August the two leaders put aside their differences and agreed to support President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda in the spirit of the March 9, 2018, handshake between the head of state and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Professor Kivutha had been a good friend of Kalonzo until the latter publicly pleaded with Uhuru to let him be his “mtu wa mkono (errand boy)” now that the Building Bridges Initiative is bearing fruit.

Kalonzo’s plea drove Kivutha into the Ngilu-Mutua axis. In retrospect, Ngilu could have been pushed out and into the hands of Kivutha and Mutua after Kalonzo ally Senator Enoch Wambua stirred up the hornet’s nest by questioning Ngilu’s use of public funds in Kitui county.

Ngilu sees Wambua’s opposition as a ploy to snatch the governorship from her in 2022.

Whatever the case, you don’t break an agreement just because someone’s friend wronged you. Where is the joy in burying and exhuming hatchets? Does it mean Ngilu and Mutua can easily be swayed to betray a cause they had sworn to defend? What kind of leaders are these who cannot keep a promise?

Going forward, the trio’s efforts to ‘overthrow’ Kalonzo as Ukambani kingpin will surely face tsunamis and hurricanes.

The people of Lower Eastern have since the ’90s held Kalonzo in high esteem, despite his poor development record. The Kamba people see Kalonzo as a unifying factor, just the way the Luos do Raila.

It is not enough for the three governors to hawk their development records as a certificate to grab leadership from the former Vice President. Will the falling out persist until 2022?