KEGODE: Natembeya and the power of Tawe movement

According to Emmanuel Waswa, a political adviser, the governor is yearning for transformational leadership.

In Summary
  • To Natembeya, the National Assembly Speaker was seen to be contradicting the President who vehemently had issued the directive for the eviction of the grabbers from prison land.
  • The Office of the President has not communicated on the emerging stands for both sides.
Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya.
TAWE MOVEMENT: Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya.
Image: FILE

Tribalism - Tawe! Poverty - Tawe! Hunger - Tawe! Favouritism - Tawe!Sycophancy - Tawe! Ford-Kenya -Tawe! Wetang’ula - Taweeeeee!

This has become the traditional chorus punctuating every speech of Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya in public rallies as he strengthens his crusade against National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula. He is campaigning to identify the Kingpin within the Luhiya Mulembe Nation ahead of the 2027 General Elections

The crusade is gradually attracting like-minded individuals and groups across the country and the diaspora as well. Tawe is a Luhyia word meaning a vigorous ‘No’!


Though the chorus does not mentioned Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, Nate as the Trans Nzoia boss is fondly referred to lumps the PCS among top community leaders who failed the community. Failed from ascending to national corridors of power and effectively bargaining for their share in recognition of their numerical strength, second after the Kikuyus.

Nate is increasingly scaling up this battle against Wetang’ula and Mudavadi as his DAP-K Party leader Eugene Wamalwa calls for sobriety while the community seeks a common solution and adequately prepares their people for the 2027 polls. Nate is the DAP-K deputy party leader.

Two DAP-K MPs Kakai Bisau of Kiminini and his Cherangany counterpart Patrick Simiyu have found themselves between a rock and a hard place. They have been accompanying Wetang’ula to most of his public functions, suggesting the duo opposes Nate’s stand against the speaker of the National Assembly

Both MPs once worked with Wetang’ula as members of before shifting goals as political temperatures change the terrain to suit bthe demands of their supporters. It not lost on anyone that Bisau was among President William Ruto’s strategists within the UDA Party before he moved to DAP-K to seek election as an MP in 2022.

DAP-K has yet to release an official statement regarding the flirting of the two MPs with their political rivals but it is safe to say the lawmakers are agitating for Wetang’ula’s camp. They are taking advantage of the party not calling for consultative meeting among its leaders.

It is no longer a secret that Bisau was using his election as lawmaker as a springboard to the Trans Nzoia 2027 governor’s race, which he lost in 2013 and 2017 to Patrick Khaemba formerly allied to Ford Kenya.

The Kiminini MP could be designing a Plan B after it became apparent Wetang’ula was grooming Health CS Susan Nakhumicha to run against Natembeya.

It started as simple support for Nate when President William Ruto ordered evictions of grabbers from the Kitale Prison Farm to pave way for the Kenya Kwanza government Programme of Affordable Housing. This has been amplified by the opposing two groups into the politics of survival and supremacy.

The Trans Nzoia boss has stood firm that he has nothing to do with the proposed evictions of grabbers of the 3,000 acres from the Kitale Prison Farm. He says this was the mandate of the national government. Wetang’ula at one point went ahead to host some of the alleged allottees at the Kitale Club pledging to take up the matter with to the Head of State. The matter has since gone silent..

To Natembeya, the Speaker of the National of Assembly was seen to be contradicting President Ruto who vehemently had issued the directive for the eviction of the grabbers from Prison land. The Office of the President has not communicated on the emerging stands for both sides.

The differences between the two protagonists have since escalated into full–blown out war where recently rival supporters engaged in physical exchanges at a burial ceremony in Trans-Nzoia as the two principals sat and watched pensively the drama. During the melee, Nate’s jeans trousers were torn and blamed it on the rowdy FK youths.

The fracas have now crept into the Trans Nzoia county Assembly with the emergence of  two splinter groups; one led by the Minority Leader Eric Wafula for Natembeya and the other one headed by three-time nominated MCA Margaret Wanjala for Wetang’ula. Nate’s group include the Majority Leader Edwin Koech and deputy Speaker Obed Mwale.

While Natembeya’s group of MCAs drawn mainly from the Opposition have vowed to resist an attempt to undermine the smooth leadership of the county, their counterparts are accusing the governor of lacking respect for ‘’his seniors’’ and have declared to teach a political lesson.

In the MCA Wanjala’s group which visited Wetang’ula at his Bungoma residence include the Member of Chepsiro/Tuigoin Birir Kipchumba who is embroiled in court and political part tribunal battles to unseat Koech as the Majority Leader. .   

Tribulations of Weta did start yesterday but way back to the run–up to the 2022 General polls where his only F-K Governor Patrick Khaemba had decamped to President Ruto’s UDA at a ceremony in Nairobi before the eyes of the FK boss.

This had to cost the party the governor’s seat where with its candidate Dr. Chris Wamalwa fell way back of Nate’s victory with a margin 50.2% votes. Natembeya polled 158, 919 votes against Wamalwa’s 79,020 votes was subsequently replaced as the party’s General Secretary with the Tongaren MP Murumba Chikati as Weta declined to relinquish the position of the party’s leader after elected as the Speaker of the NA.

Dr. Wamalwa is among those proposed for the CAS jobs, an act he says came up with personal dalliance with the KK government.

All expectations were that Weta would propose his insider the Bungoma Senator Wafula Wakoli to ‘warm’ his the FK leadership as was the case for Mudavadi who handed his ANC to Lamu Governor Issa Timamy.

Since then, Weta as the defacto FK leader and Speaker has been hopping, stepping and jumping in the fight to stop Nate from growing to regional and national limelight. This has raised uproars among some parliamentarians wanting Weta to either to stick to National Assembly as the Speaker or to FK as it official leader.

The talk on Mudavadi owning up to pressure and to fold his ANC party and join the KK affiliate UDA which he himself has disowned has led to the increasing fear of the Prime Cabinet Minister being confirmed as an errand boy of President Ruto in 2027; denying the Luhyia community space on the presidential ballot.

However, Wetang’ula’s firm stand against the winds of folding FK has reignited the community’s hopes of having their party on which they can dictate power-sharing should the push come to the shove.

At the 2022 polls, it also emerged that F-K was threatened with the loss of its second governor seat in Bungoma held by then Wycliffe Wangamati before former Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka jumped ship to the party from the defunct New Ford Kenya which had amalgamated into Jubilee Coalition in 2017.

Together with ex-CS Eugene Wamalwa, Nate teamed up with the Azimio la Umoja Coalition to fend off Kenya Kwanza’s Presidential candidate William Ruto who garned 116,372 votes against Azimio’s Raila Odinga’s 132,404 votes in the last General Election.

For the first time in a record of two General Elections, FK garned only 5 parliamentary seats in  2022 as opposed to 17 in 2013 and 24 when the party was headed by the late VP Kijana Wamalwa. In the last Senate, the party had only 2 elected Members.

 During the same polls, ANC had no elected MPs in Trans-Nzoia and Bungoma Counties, both the battle grounds on which the Luhyia Kingpin is being fought for by Wetang’ula and Natembeya factions.

Saboti MP Caleb Amisi is the only ODM lawmaker in Trans-Nzoia with 1 ANC MCA Obed Mahanga – Matisi Ward – who is being touted for the Senator’s seat in 2027 against the incumbent UDA’s Allan Chesang’.

But what chances does Papa wa Roma as Weta is fondly called, have in winning the battle against Weta and remain at the 3rdI-ranked position of the country’s leadership and at the time as the potential spokesman of Western Region?

According to pundits, no single Speaker of the National Assembly has had a smooth landing after retiring from the August House.

For example, former Speakers Hassan Ole Kamwaro has had to be appointed as a commissioner to government agencies while his successor Kenneth Marende has on several occasions tried to make political come-backs in vein.

Justin Muturi was facing the same ill only to be saved and proposed to the AG’s job as a partner in the KK coalition as of Democratic Party DP. Both Weta, 67, and Mudavadi in his early 60s could reached their pinnacles should Ruto go for the second term.

But enjoying upper political experience, Wetang’ula will fighting be a war that he is aware can either catapult him to a higher office or bring him down  and this is why he is prepared to release his all arsenals to avoid shame of defeat against a newcomer in the stature of Nate.

Denying that he was not targeting individuals and for the supremacy of the Luhyia Nation, Weta has always been insecure without having in hand elected leaders in Trans-Nzoia and Bungoma- two bedrocks of FK. He has been blamed for the fall of politicians such Dr Chris Wamalwa and former MPs Dr Simiyu Eseli and Wafula Wamunyinyi.

All sitting FK MPs have stood with him; suffice to say he will leave nothing to chance as he seeks to recover the Trans-Nzoia governor’s office and MCA seats which he lost to both to UDA and DAP–K in 2022. The party managed only one MP – Ferdinand Wanyonyi of Kwanza and three MCA’s Furaha Lusweti (Waitaluk), Joshua Amwai (Kiminini) and Geoffrey Kisiangani (Machewa)

So determined Weta is to snatch the seat from Natembeya that he introduces CS Nakhumicha to every public forum he presides over, raising eye brows from the both political divide. As the Speaker, he is limited to hosting delegation indoors.

Wetang’ula’s troops both in Trans Nzoia and Bungoma counties aver that FK as the second oldest party after KANU was going nowhere adding that it should be respected by Luhyia leaders including Natembeya.

Led by the party’s spokesperson MP Chikati, the officials who included busineman Tony Muyoti from Kiminini said Wetangula currently stood high chance as the community supremo who could guide the people from Western Kenya to the country’s higher political echelons and therefore should be accorded the opportunity to scale up the campaign.

But Natembeya is adamant: ‘Wetangula must go! The Likuvi (barren Woman) Ford–Kenya party must go! Imposed leadership and dictatorship must go! We should not be kneeling before leaders and singing their songs so that we can be indentified”

He adds: “What has he done (Wetangula) for 30 years he has been leadership? What is he going to do for the more years you will be giving him?”

The second Trans-Nzoia governor who  prior to be elected had an accredited and outstanding career in provincial administrative rising to the Rift Valley Region Commissioner also chides the Interior Cabinet Secretary Prof. Kithure Kindiki for threatening to arrest those heckling in public meetings.

Said he in an interview with a national radio station. “Heckling is one way of expressing disappointment. How would you know whether or not your people are with you? Even in the US, Obama (Baraka) and Trump (Donald) were heckled and this is how  democracy is defined. How many people will you arrest for heckling?

‘’They will be brought to count and freed on bonds. Heckling is a way of sending information to the government where their representatives have challenges of passing it.  As servants, you must listen to them’’.

Natembeya says Mt. Kenya region have their spokesman in the names of DP Rigathi Gachagua as well at the Kalenjin’s in President William Ruto as Nyanza in Opposition leader Raila Odinga. ‘’Where is our as Luhyia?’’. Nil.’’, he said.

"For us Luhyias who have about 45 MPs, who is our King? If Wetang’ula is sacked today, we have no one to complain to. As second to Mt. Kenya in population, where is our cake? The Tonje (Daudi) Rules have manipulated to extent that no Luhyia soldier will ascend to top army positions in the near future. We have no commander in the Administration Police and as well a Director in the State department of Education’’.

He said his objective was for the Luhyias to unite and fight for their rights as a community. ‘’We have reached appoint where brains of other people should not be washed away and make them not to question their loyalty’’.

On violence, he said security was not a monopoly of any individual adding protection for Kenyans was enshrined in the constitution. Asked if he would travel beyond Trans-Nzoia to sell his Tawe Movement, Natembeya said he was born in Bungoma County 53 years ago, only to transfer to Trans-Nzoia where he had worked a civil servant and finally choosing to settle there as a resident.

“We need to go to Kakamega, Vihiga and Busia with a message of unity”, he added. But how long does Natembeya expect the Mulembe Nation to have resolved and acknowledged the message of Tawe?

“We need to be focused and move forward before 2027’, he added. After the escorting of  his estranged deputy governor Philomena Kapkory back in the office with the intervention of some Senators, perhaps Natembeya will now be able fly outside the county for his first foreign trips with his head above alongside his slogan Tunatembea na Natembeya.

According to Emmanuel Waswa, a political adviser in Natembeya’s office, what the governor was yearning for is transformational leadership that is ‘’people-centered’’ with leaders akin to the voters as opposed to the FK style where it is ‘’leader-centred’ adding that this was in line in to awaken the community to realize the value of elections.

Waswa, immediate former Minority Leader in the Trans County Assembly and the prospective DAP-K candidate against FK’s incumbent Ferdinand Wanyonyi said : ‘’ The TAWE movement is meant to introduce a new political order for our people to make their decision without coercion and intimidation’’. Waswa was the runners-up to Wanyonyi in 2022.polls.

And Kenyans working and staying in the diaspora have urged Natembeya not to relent but strive to open more branches in the entire Western Kenya arguing that the movement was not just a two-man show but one geared to open eyes of the Luhyias to act politically independently since Independence.

One Jackton Ambuka from the Pennsville State of America says in his Face Book account that he had met ten Kenyans in several states of US and agreed to invite the Trans Nzoia governor to the US to spread the movement’s gospel beyond frontiers. He alleges he comes from Emuhaya in Vihiga County.  

All Natembeya opponents have taken back seats with only Dr Chris Wamalwa being seen as the only remaining serious contender but having his stars spread between FK and DAP–K. The ex-Kiminini lawmaker has not been seeing eye to eye with Wetang’ula since his removal as the SG of FK and the appointment of CS Nakhumicha to the Cabinet, a seat that had been seen to be his reserve for having campaigned vigorously both for the party and presidential votes in 2022

CS Nakhumicha vied for the Trans Nzoia WR seat on the FK ticket but lost to the incumbent Lilian Siyoi allied to UDA and the CS is seen as the right hand person of the Speaker of the NA in matters politics in Trans Nzoia and to a wide extent of Bungoma County. However questions were bound when Wetangula was invited to grace a football tournament sponsored by the Health CS in Endebess constituency with the distribution of kits and equipment branded with name of the CS. The occasion that was also used as a health public awareness forum on the new SHIF was attended and supported by the area MP Dr Robert Pukose who is also the chairperson of the Parliamentary committee on health.

But it is definite that whether or not DAP will be the ticket he will ride on for the attempt for the second run, Nate who has been engrossed with the electorate within the first year in office is destined to go far. Suggestions were being made as whether the TAWE movement could be transformed into a political party in attempt to bring the community under one umbrella.

For Eugene Wamalwa as DAP–K boss,, the former CS has had his plan known by declaring to go for the presidency in 2027 while the fate of both Mudavadi of Weta lies in the hands President Ruto. In another five-year period, the dou will have community advisers just like phased-out politicians and remnants of former governments Fred Gumo, Musikari Kombo and Dr Noah Wekesa; awaiting to be led by the upcoming new generation of leaders. Period.

The writer is a Kitale-based freelance journalist

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