Party rebellions and realignments are taking the centre stage ahead of 2022.
With this, political temperature is rising barely 16 months after the August 8 General Election.
Although Tuesday’s terror attack at 14 Riverside Drive quelled down the political heat and brought the political leadership together — noticeably ODM’s Raila Odinga and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka — infighting and rebellion in various parties are soon likely to resume.
Just like the popular HBO TV Series Game of Thrones, politicians are tactfully positioning themselves on different sides across the political divide in their quest for power and lay claim to the “Iron Throne” during the ‘winter’ of 2022.
In the process, they are going against their parties or/and leaders.
— TANGATANGA VS KIELEWEKE
The ruling Jubilee Party, once a formidable outfit that started as an alliance and dissolved parties to retain power in 2017 appears to be staggering towards its deathbed, reminiscent of the biblical house that was built on sand.
Despite party leader President Uhuru Kenyatta and deputy party leader William Ruto showing brave faces, it is no secret Jubilee is split down the middle and the crack is widening.
On one side is Team Tangatanga and on the other, Team Kieleweke.
The former, allied to DP Ruto is affiliated to the likes of MPs Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), John Waluke (Sirisia), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati), Oscar Sudi (Kapseret), Sylvanus Osoro (South Mugirango), Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) and Senator Samson
They have firmly coalesced around the DP, and they accompany him to Harambees and political meetings. They have been accused of early campaigns, which informed their name: Campaigning every weekend.
Team Kieleweke, which was coined by Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, is seen as the troop that has remained loyal to Uhuru, and is calling for a stop to 2022 politicking, and instead for elected leaders to focus on development and deliver the Big Four agenda.
Ngunjiri started a storm in January last year when he posted on Facebook,” My vote in 2022 will go to a leader who was committed to ensuring President Kenyatta's legacy is secured and one who promotes national unity and guaranteed Kenyans the right to live anywhere in the country.”
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria responded saying, “I want to tell Wambugu that we [Mt Kenya] are not being forced to elect Ruto as the next President. It is our will since Ruto stood with President Kenyatta when everybody had abandoned him.”
He spoke in Kingongo, Nyeri County.
Wambugu has maintained 2022 politics are disrespectful to the President.
And the President has as well expressed himself on the matter.
In October last year during a clean up in at Uhuru market, Nairobi, the President said politicians should desist from talking about 2022 and instead bring development to Kenyans.
"Jameni, tunajua kila miaka tano, tuna uchaguzi... si tugonje jameni miaka tano ifike ndio tuanze siasa ya uchaguzi huo mwingine?" he posed.
(We know that every five years we have elections, why don't we wait for 2022 so that we start politics).
He would repeat this on November 1 in a harsh tone saying, “When the right time comes, I will tell people that leaders who spent most of their time dwelling on baseless talk should go home. They don’t deserve any leadership position.
“That is why I am saying to leaders, at the national and local level, to stop useless politics and concentrate on nation-building,” the President said in Nyeri.
The New Year started on a higher momentum, after the then Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe said Ruto — the apparent heir to Uhuru, or so it was thought — was not fit to be President, and that he would push to stop him vying in 2022.
The backlash resulted in his resignation, which some analysts say marked the final blow to the party.
Murathe is said to represent or speak for other silent but disgruntled leaders in the party, who may be uneasy and opposed to a Ruto presidency.
Wambugu, former Kanu nominated Senator Paul Njoroge and ex-Kiambu governor William Kabogo have gone on record telling the DP that he is not assured of Central Kenya support in 2022.
Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth who lost the Nairobi Jubilee Party ticket also appears to be against a Ruto Presidency.
Like Kabogo, Kenneth sees the DP as the mastermind behind his woes and his failed governor bid in Nairobi. He recently led some politicians from Mt Kenya region to defend the President from Kuria and Ngunjiri.
The disgruntled lot is faced with two options — to openly rebel and try to take control of the party from Ruto or decamp altogether and forge alliances with other ‘like-minded’ leaders.
Murathe said he will work with ‘others’ to form a coalition that will form an inclusive government in 2022.
Last Christmas, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi hosted Murathe, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and CS Eugene Wamalwa at his Mululu home.
The invite came just a month after Murathe hosted Mudavadi in his Gatanga home.
The cordial relations between the two and the eventual resignation of Murathe raised eyebrows and questions on whether a Kikuyu-Luhya union was in the offing.
Mudavadi has already declared he will be on the ballot in 2022 and has fronted himself as the face of the opposition after the handshake.
However, the ANC leader’s quest to the presidency will largely be determined by the ever-elusive Luhya unity, which Cotu boss Francis Atwoli has desperately been rooting for.
To achieve this, Mudavadi has to win the support of Ford Kenya leader and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula who has also declared his presidential ambition as well.
And even before he wins over Wetang’ula, he has to ensure his MPs — Godfrey Ototsi (nominated) and Cleophas Malala (Senator, Kakamega) — are firmly behind him after last year’s rebellion.
Soon after the handshake, the two first-time legislators attacked their party boss, Mudavadi, when he failed to attend NASA leader Raila Odinga’s mock swearing-in at Uhuru Park.
They also opposed calls for Luhya community to rally behind Mudavadi and Wetang’ula ahead of 2022.
And when they were told to toe the line, Ototsi tweeted on April 29, “Someone tell @MusaliaMudavadi & his lazy & clueless paid idlers that I & @Cleophas_Malala are not intimidated by their ANC faction's latest veiled threat 2 "expel" us & stiffle divergent views.Their malicious & myopic plans via a fake NEC will miserably & embarrassingly crumble.”
Wetang’ula, as well, has his own internal problems within Ford-K whose members have been calling for an injection of new blood in the once dominant party, which was a headache to Kanu in the 90s.
And although the Bungoma Senator yielded to pressure last week and announced the party would hold grassroots elections, his deputy party leader started another problem.
The former Kakamega Senator, Boni Khalwale, accused Wetang’ula of insincerity and pretending during the day that he does not back Ruto’s presidential bid.
This is after Ford-K delegates met in Bungoma town and called for disciplinary action against Khalwale for his dalliance with Ruto. They warned that they would not allow members to support presidential aspirants from rival parties.
“Asking and consulting is not a weakness. We need to speak in one voice. Rushing to support others is the highest degree of indiscipline,” Wetang’ula said.
In the last few weeks, the man from Tseikuru is facing a juggernaut from the three governors in Ukambani.
The 10th and last Vice President, Kalonzo Musyoka has unselfishly played second fiddle twice to Raila Odinga — 2013 and 2017 — as the running mate.
Arguably, 2022 is likely to be his last shot at the presidency. However, governors Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) this week ganged up against him and formed the People’s Empowerment Movement.
The three accused Kalonzo of poor leadership and being behind the poor development record in Ukambani, despite being high positions of power for many years.
However, the main man at the heart of Kenya’s politics and who is keeping his cards close to the chest is AU Infrastructure envoy and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
The 2022 arithmetic will largely depend on whether will go for the presidency for the fifth time, or the candidate he will endorse.
His engineered handshake has left many guessing.
His party is however facing rebellion, especially in the Coast.
Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa and her Msambweni counterpart Suleiman Dori and 7 other MCAs have rebelled and are on the verge of being expelled from the party. They have said they will back Ruto in 2022.
ODM chairman John Mbadi in a letter to Jumwa accused her of uttering words “that are against the party values”.
“I have a contract with the people of Malindi of five years. I have a contract with ODM for five years. When those years elapse, let no one ask me where I will go,” Jumwa said.
Watching these political wrangles silently and from a distance is Kanu chairman Gideon Moi whose name has always popped up whenever the 2022 succession is mentioned.
Though he has not openly declared his candidature, the Baringo Senator is seen as one of the persons likely to have an impact in a post-Uhuru presidency.
Gideon is seen as a threat to Ruto’s dominance in the vote-rich Rift Valley region and the relationship between the two is far from cordial.
The scion to former President Daniel Moi has lately warmed up to Raila and thrown his weight behind the handshake deal, insisting the unity deal is a plus for Kenyans.
Gideon last year made several visits to Western, Central and Nyanza regions, a move seen as marketing himself and endearing himself to the rest of the Kenyan electorate.
In October last year, a group of ODM MPs in Karachuonyo pledged support for a Raila-Gideon partnership.
Antony Oluoch (Mathare), Ong’ondo Were (Kasipul), Lillian Gogo (Rangwe) and Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay woman representative) said that Gideon would succeed in his political ambitions if he teamed up with Raila.