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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Is DP Ruto Luhya community political enemy number one?

New political temperatures are building in Western Kenya as voter registration drive intensifies ahead of 2017 polls. This is after it emerged that political enemies of the community are out to sideline it for own political schemes and schemes.
The Luhya, Teso and Saboti communities battle for 6 million votes ahead of polls have gone a notch higher after the massive campaign ever kicked off in Western region.
The fast growing drive bringing together young legislators and professionals from the region is now taking its battle to the populous urban city of Nairobi.
The move comes after the association launched the drive in coastal city of Mombasa signalling a positive trajectory to the initiative progress.
“We are heading to Nairobi to target other millions of our vote basket comprising of Luhya, Teso and Saboti residing in the vast city suburbs,” said Lugari MP Ayub Savula.
He said that the March 1 drive will ensure that the communities under Lutesa umbrella register voters enmass to top up the target.
“We have lined up the drive activities in the key estates starting from Kawangware, Mathare, Kayole, Huruma, Satelite, Kangemi and Dandora among others,’’ he added.
He said plans are underway for the massive drive slated for this month.
Political activist Stanley Livondo is expected to join the group spearheading the drive with his contribution expected to spring the drive up due to his close touch with the city urban population.
Livondo is prominently known after he threw his weight for the Kibera seat in previous elections sparking fear in Raila Odinga camp. Pundits argue that his role in the city campaigns will be key to the drive.
The former Westland MP Fred Gumo is also expected to join the bandwagon.
“We are set for the day and people must watch the pace. This drive is unstoppable,’’ said Livondo.
Livondo added that skeptics have already cropped up criticising the drive but exhibited hope that the drive will yield fruits and attain its target.
“We can not gamble yet again in this election with a mere handful votes that can not take us any where. We must prepare for the battle with enough votes to spark meaningful competition in forthcoming presidential contests,’’ he said.
Savula earlier challenged presidential candidates flexing muscles for the top seat from the region to support the drive.
“This drive will benefit my brothers eyeing the top seat since I am not interested in it. They should join hands and support the movement,’’ he added.
He said UDF party leader Musalia Mudavadi, minority leader and Ford Kenya patron Moses Wetang’ula, former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo and New Ford Kenya leader Eugene Wamalwa will be the key beneficiaries of the initiative.
“I don’t want to be president but I want the senior politicians eyeeing the presidency to help us consolidate our votes to bargain for power,” Savula said.
The legislator spoke when he launched the voters’ drive in Western at Pan Paper Grounds in his backyard which saw residents throng the long queues to register as voters.
He said Mudavadi, Wetang’ula and Jirongo cannot make any meaningful impact on the presidency with the region’s 1.2 million registered voters.
“That will be an exercise in futility and the reason why this drive is paramount,’’ he said.
“Leaders have raised money to pay the Sh300 fines for late ID applicants who delayed to acquire the document at the right time,” Savula said.
He said the drive aims to enable a member of the Luhya community to ascend to power in 2017 or 2022.
The initiative was launched after a meeting in Kakamega last December bringing together MPs from the region majority of who are first timers in parliament.
Those who attended the Kakamega inaugural meeting were Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo), Sakwa Bunyasi (Nambale), Geoffrey Odanga (Matayos), Reginalda Wanyonyi (Bungoma County), Janet Nangabo (Trans Nzoia County), David Wafula (Saboti), Charles Gimose (Hamisi) and MCAs from the five western counties - Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga, Busia and Trans Nzoia.
Of late, the talk of Luhya unity has been on. Former National assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende wants the community to unite to be relevant.
Analysts say if the community can register in large numbers and be sensitised and vote as a block then they will have a bargain. Already, talk in the region is that the Luhya community has been marginalised by Jubilee, courtesy of deputy president William Ruto.
In fact, Ruto has earned a tag name of being the political enemy of the Luhyas by fighting its elites. He has blocked the appointment of politicians to plum government positions even after Uhuru Kenyatta giving a nod. Ruto enemies in Luhyaland list are endless. It has Musalia Mudavadi, Eugene Wamalwa, Soita Shitanda,Bonie Khalwale, Moses Wetang’ula, Noah Wekesa, Vincent M’maitsi, Jirongo, Francis Atwoli, Francis Chahonyo and Marende among others. He is said to be out to have Luhya professionals occupying strategic parastatals shown the door. In the sugar industry, Ruto’s name features in the wars between Butali Sugar and West Kenya.
To divide the community, Ruto has enlisted the support of new MPs in parliament mostly allied to UDF of Mudavadi. The move is to undermine the former deputy prime minister who he sees as the stumbling block to his bid to succeed Uhuru come 2017. Jirongo has no time for Ruto either.
Last year, Eugene, Ababu Namwamba,  Mudavadi, Wetang’ula, Musikari Kombo and Wekesa during the late VP Michael Wamalwa’s memorial in Milimani, Kitale, called for Luhya unity.
That Ruto is out to frustrate the community is well seen by Eugene factor. Uhuru had forwarded his name to be an envoy in one of the Western capitals. Uhuru allies had urgued that Wamalwa name was not on the presidential ballot. He was Uhuru’s running mate, and never contested a parliamentary or gubernatorial seat but instead threw his support behind Uhuru  and his Jubilee team.
To date, the former Justice minister has failed to land a state job owing to Ruto’s schemes. For Jirongo, together with Ruto, they were rebel Kanu politicians in Moi era and formed United Democratic Movement, has his troubles with the DP.
It is imperative to note as Mudavadi and Eugene were sidelined, Jubilee appointed Kambi Kazungu, Najib Balala and Chirau Mwakwere from the Coast and Charity Ngilu from Eastern into government. “You cannot compare Kambi with Wamalwa when it comes to performance of public duties,” a Wamalwa admirer.