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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Jubilee changes tactics in Gusii politics

Gusii politics is set for a major shake-up following the completion of a Jubilee friendly election line-up with a well crafted plot to plant cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i as Nyamira governor to replace ODM’s John Nyagarama.
In what appears to be a well orchestrated plot that to a large extent favours Uhuru Kenyatta’s party, The National Alliance against Deputy President William Ruto’s URP, Matiang’i an immigrant into Nyamira county from South Mugirango in Kisii county has been picked by Jubilee strategists to vie for the seat on a TNA ticket on the advice of former cabinet minister and Ford People leader Simeon Nyachae who happens to be his uncle.
Apart from Mzee Nyachae being his uncle, Matiang’i is a well known longserving top personal aide of the former minister and for many years, acted as his private secretary and political researcher. It is common knowledge that it is Mzee Nyachae who lobbied for Matiang’i.
Matiang’i’s expected entry into Nyamira county politics is aimed to complete Jubilee’s covetous pursuit of the entire Gusii vote which remains over 75pc in support of the opposition Cord; mainly Raila Odinga’s ODM and Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper.
For the last two years, both the president and his deputy have been making frantic forays into the vote rich Gusiiland trying to lure back the community from the strong grip of ODM. Much of their efforts have concentrated mainly in Kisii county where Mzee Nyachae has rendered a helping hand with speculation that his eldest son, Charles Nyachae, the chairman of the Constitution for the Implementation Commission – was being groomed to topple area governor James Ongwae of ODM.
However, in the latest development, it appears Governor Ongwae has played his cards  well that has left many guessing his future plans as he tries to reclaim his seat in 2017. The move is to forestall or parry off the Charles Nyachae onslaught and also to avoid a possible twin attack from his restless deputy governor Joash Maangi (also in ODM) but a known URP sympathiser and a close ally of Ruto.
The latest developments come at a time TNA financiers and Central Kenya controllers have drastically overhauled their Gusiiland team leadership following the dismal performance and non delivery during the 2013 general elections.
Among the former TNA leaders in Gusiiland discarded include former cabinet minister Professor Sam Ongeri (appointed ambassador), Kitutu-East MP Jimmy Ang’wenyi and former MPs Walter Nyambati and Richard Ombui. The group has been accused of having diverted hundreds of millions of shillings in campaign funds meant to win majority elective seats in both counties in 2013.
 However, a less financially endowed ODM team led by Chris Obure (ODM chairman - Kisii county) and Timothy Bosire (ODM chairman - Nyamira county) overwhelmingly  overran them, with Nyamira county returning almost 100pc victory for ODM. In Kisii county, only Jimmy Angwenyi won a parliamentary seat for TNA in controversial results. More recently, with government support, TNA and Ford People sneaked two victories in Kisii through: Richard Tong’i (Nyaribari Chache) and Charles Onyancha (Bomachoge).
Whereas indications have been that the Jubilee side has been gaining considerable ground in Kisii county with a section of the ODM leadership cracking and wavering notably - Richard Onyonka, Manson Nyamweya, Simeon Ogari, Janet Ong’era and women rep Jane Ottara, save for Senator Chris Obure, the governing coalition has had it difficult tackling Nyamira county and hence the ejection of hitherto TNA county boss  Nyambati who has hence gone into financial exile in the United States to be assisted by relatives.
Perhaps, afraid of ODM’s overwhelming grassroots control in Nyamira and Gusiiland, the government side has staged a twin assault to take over Nyamira county, with Matiang’i being detailed to lead the TNA wing while Agriculture Finance Corporation chairman Patrick Osero has been detailed to lead the URP assault and will be gunning for the Borabu parliamentary seat currently held by Wiper Democratic Party MP advocate Ben Momanyi.
Sources have disclosed that the Jubilee plotters have identified candidates to try and wrestle all key positions in Nyamira including the senatorial seat and West Mugirango parliamentary seat. In Kitutu Masaba, the Jubilee plotters are in deep uncertainty; whereas they prefer advocate Shadrack Mose, they are also toying with the possibility of fielding businessman Victor Ogeto. The two, together with Walter Nyambati, lost heavily in the 2013 elections.
Scheming to bag Nyamira county has become a desperate effort for Jubilee and has been worsened by the crushingly low prices of tea that is the main cash crop in the Gusii which has impacted negatively to many families. As a strategy to facilitate easy entry for Matiang’i and Osero, Jubilee political schemers in government have created a maneuver in which the two have organised to summon delegations of troubled tea farmers purporting to offer solutions to the tea income crisis. The first delegations were supposed to meet sometimes back. The aim is to portray the two as sensitive to the people’s plight thus should be voted for  come 2017 elections.
However, it is apparent that the Jubilee strategists are not ready to let go of the Gusii vote votes are a key plank to a slew of other strategic vote blocks they eye to cushion themselves from the danger of crashing out of power in the next general elections.
Apparently, their local and international consultants have warned them against relying heavily on the Kalenjin-Gema vote to retain power in 2017 after cracks began emerging with large portions of Kalenjins and mainstream Meru leaders constantly complaining of mistreatment by the Jubilee government. Another key vote block that Jubilee has been told in no uncertain terms that it could be gone for good is the Muslim (especially the Somali) vote due to the anti-terrorism campaign repercussions.
An initial dream combination of Gema-Kalenjin – Luhya block for 2017 got still born after parallel forays into Luhyaland and enticements by the president and deputy president failed to yield with majority of the community members snubbing them and sticking with Cord while even those who in 2013 elections had supported the Jubilee friendly UDF party of Musalia Mudavadi openly drifted to Cord, Bonny Khalwale and George Khaniri.
With political rejection by most of the Jubilee target communities looming large including futile efforts to win over the Mijikenda of the Coast region, only the Maasai vote block appears to be within sites. This is the reason why the struggle to win over Gusiiland has been intensified and there are reports it could be scaled up as the country nears the election campaigns season.