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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 16 February 2015

Third force to control Gusii votes born in Nairobi

A new political pact between Kisii governor James Ongwae and the top leadership of the People’s Democratic Party to  use the party to take over of Gusiiland politically is creating heat in the county.
Though elected on the ODM party ticket, Governor Ongwae has secretly forged a political alliance with PDP party leader Omingo Magara, to revive and energise the fringe party to overrun ODM. They plan to strike in the next general elections.
In a carefully planned maneuver, the two plot to use the clan factor, in a twin strategy, to vanquish the ODM brigade in Kisii county led by Senator Chris Obure and the Jubilee project in Gusiiland led by CIC chairman Charles Nyachae, who is reviving his father’s party, Ford People, in readiness for the 2017 polls.
Curiously, though Governor Ongwae landed his current position courtesy of team work that included senator Obure, his deputy Joash Maangi and assembly speaker Kerosi Ondieki, he has opted to ditch the camp ahead of the 2017 campaigns with hope of crafting a new partnership that will see Magara carry the senatorial flag.
During the 2013 general elections, Magara posted a strong third finish in the senatorial race behind Obure and Sam Ongeri who finished second.
The decision to resort to build the party was arrived at two weeks ago during a meeting between Ongwae and Magara in the governor’s private office at the basement of Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
Sources who attended the highly secretive meeting disclosed that the governor agreed to the proposition following pressure from Magara who is the chairman of the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy  and who argued that PDP requires a huge amount of money to be able to field sufficient candidates across Kisii from MCAs, women representative, MPs, senator to governor.
In the deal, the governor has to help pro-PDP candidates in getting supplies and contracts to be financially stable. In the arrangement, Ongwae has promised to embark on the task immediately and to ensure it prevails for the next three years to raise enough funds for the party.
Sources add that the two believe that a combined force of Ongwae’s Bagetutu clans of Kisii county and Magara’s Bagirango clans in the same county will just need a little addition to overrun any groupings that may be conjured up by Senator Obure and Nyachae of the Nyaribari clans who, on their own, are minorities.
Although they have been assured the support of ODM nominated senator Janet Ong’era who is eyeing the women representative position under the PDP wing, the plot is the more intriguing as it is not clear whether they have roped in other ODM rebels Richard Onyonka, Manson Nyamweya and Simeon Ogari.
The Jubilee coalition on its side had preferred to help repackage Ford People under the leadership of Nyachae to invade Kisii in the 2017 elections to snatch area elective seats from Cord.
Those already identified and deployed to start working the ground for Jubilee include legislators Richard Tong’i, Zebedeo Opore and old horse Jimmy Angwenyi.
Surprisingly, even as Jubilee top leaders merge URP and TNA into Jubilee Alliance Party of Kenya for 2017 elections with promises of joining all Jubilee coalition parties and communities for purposes of unity, secretly, they have agreed to allow and sponsor Ford People to win them the crucial Abagusii votes after they realised that any attempt to try it direct as Jubilee will lead to a resounding defeat by the opposition like last time.
Critics in Gusiiland warn that the Jubilee leaders could be tricking the community to use Nyachae’s party to sway their vote in their favour but immediately after the elections, to do away with the party.
The surprise  move by Ongwae and Ong’era could be a blow to the dominant ODM party in Kisii county but it is yet to be seen whether they will manage to sway the opposition party’s base and strength in the populous county which has the majority youth who have made sure that the area is 75pc ODM to date.
It is still too early to tell whether Obure who is credited for crafting the winning ODM lineup in the 2013 general elections, will weather the defection storm and quickly assemble a new strong team again to parry the twin onslaught from PDP and Ford P.
The game plan of Jubilee stalwart Ongeri going into 2017 elections is yet to be known. He is yet to speak out about his future political plans or whether he will quit politics after leaving his current posting as Kenya’s envoy to the UN-Habitat in Nairobi.
The latest developments come at a time of heightened efforts by the Jubilee leadership to wrestle the Abagusii community from the opposition, a Cord stranglehold.
The ruling coalition’s efforts are informed by past history where the community was known to always side with and support the ruling elite. It was the case under founding President Jomo Kenyatta and his successor Daniel Moi. Even after standing in the 2002 general elections against Narc’s Mwai Kibaki, Simeon Nyachae whom the community voted for to the last man quickly shifted his support to the Kibaki regime and even served as minister for Roads.
The Jubilee leadership with the help of Mzee Nyachae and other conservatives like Ongeri, and Ang’wenyi is determined to reclaim the community from the opposition and have convinced Uhru Kenyattan and William Ruto to facilitate the campaign in full.
Initially, Ongwae was a favoured bride of Jubilee leaders who even tried to lure him to defect to the government side. With him and his deputy, Maangi, were frequently invited to State House where they were lavished by the very top.
However, things changed when the Ford P group entered the fray following quick intervention by Mzee Nyachae who pleaded with Uhuru to help his son Charles join politics to help sustain the family name to be like those of his peers in public life who have their sons in influential positions in the national politics.
Sources close to both Ongwae and Magara have revealed that the coming together of the two leaders could be partly out of experience and expediency since the entry of Charles has threatened Ongwae’s re-election while Magara has been floating precariously after he was dumped by Ruto and later Uhuru who caught him failing to account for funds they used to give him to carry out various Jubilee political functions in Kisii.
Senator Ong’era’s motive remains unclear but she is known to be close to the deputy president, thus she could be the Trojan horse to add weight to the PDP group to enable it contribute effectively to the dismembering of the Gusii vote so as not to benefit Cord in 2017.