Kenya's Most Authoritative Political Newspaper

Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Uhuru makes inroads into Raila backyard

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s appointment of parastatal chiefs and board members from Luo Nyanza and other parts of the country has elicited mixed feelings amongst area residents. But whereas it has been praised and rejected in equal measure, the one million dollar question is whether the appointments will last to live the test of time.
     Analysts say Uhuru was in a deliberate move to appease grumbling among political power losers and raid the opposition stronghold of Luo Nyanza in a strategy aimed at giving a lifeline to scores of politicians whose backing he could be counting on for his re-election in 2017.
     Of late, Uhuru has been on a fishing expedition in Luo Nyanza. Just barely a week before the appointments, he had visited Kisumu where he received a rousing welcome during the opening of the Governors’ Conference where he pledged to work closely with the Luo community.
     But what analysts are now asking is whether by starting the clean-up project in Kisumu’s Nyalenda, Kondele  and  Manyatta slums and appointment of the Luos to various boards will make the Luo community abandon Cord leader Raila Odinga and vote for Uhuru to show their appreciation.
      It is now said that although Uhuru did well to make such appointments, it is likely not to change the voting pattern of the community. Whereas a majority has hailed Uhuru for remembering the community which voted against him almost 100pc in last general elections, top Luo leaders claim that the people Uhuru appointed cannot add any value to his political schemes.
     Despite the region being a Cord stronghold, Uhuru has cast his net in search of votes by appointing not only his allies in the region but also from those perceived to be from families opposed to his administration.
      But even as the Odinga family accepts and welcomes Akinyi Wenwa’s appointment, ODM national chairman John Mbandi dismissed the appointments and urged those appointed from Luo Nyanza to reject them.
Mbandi accused the Jubilee administration of recycling failed politicians to key parastatals, a move he said would not help reform government.
       According to Mbandi, the appointment of failed politicians and bureaucrats will not in any way help reform those agencies as promised by Jubilee. But Oburu in a quick rejoinder has however said the appointment should not be seen as a favour to the Odinga family since Akinyi is qualified to hold the position.
         A section of ODM leaders now claim that Uhuru has used the old way of doing things by recycling political losers which does not add any value to government. The appointment of Akinyi to the board of Kemri is being viewed as a means to appease the Odinga family. Sources say Uhuru had through emissaries consulted with the Odinga family before making the announcement. It is for this reason that nominated MP Oburu Odinga came out strongly supporting the appointment. However, Raila is yet to come out to comment on Akinyi’s appointment but sources say he approved of it.
      Before the appointment, Akinyi had served as consul general in Los Angeles but was recalled in June 2013 immediately Uhuru took over from Mwai Kibaki. Her appointment was allegedly influenced by Raila who at that time was the prime minister in the coalition government.
     Another appointment is that of lawyer Ambrose Weda to chair the South Nyanza Sugar Company board. He is a lawyer by profession who in 2013 worked closely with Uhuru and TNA. He is also a well-known Raila critic and his appointment is being seen as a way of rewarding anti-Raila forces.
     Another appointment is that of Penina Obudho who has been appointed to chair the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute. She is the deputy vice chancellor,  Academic and Research, at Karatina University.
      Former Kisumu mayor Francisca Auma has been appointed board member of women Enterprise Fund Advisory Board as well as Robert Otieno. She lost in ODM nominations and has been in political oblivion since 2007.
Another Uhuru ally appointed is Benson Owiti to the board of Chemelil Sugar Company and interestingly also secured membership to the board at Nyayo Tea Zone. He is a former Ramogi FM radio presenter who was kicked out aatfter he allegedly run negative story on ODM and Raila.
During the 2013 elections, he contested the Migori gubernatorial seat on TNA ticket and lost to Okoth Obado of PDP.  In the same board is Irene Odhiambo.
Another politician named in the list is Hillary Alila. He was an independent candidate during the Homa Bay senatorial by-election having defected from ODM after he realized that ODM had identified Moses Kajwang’ as the party’s flag bearer.
Still in the South Nyanza region, former President Daniel Moi’s point man in South Nyanza is among the beneficiaries of the placements. Seventy-five-year-old politician Elisha Akech Chieng’ was selected to the Rural Electrification Authority board.
During the Moi era, Chieng’ was regarded as one of the most charismatic and vocal politicians in South Nyanza. He held various posts, among them vice chairman of the then ruling party in the region, deputising the late Okiki Amayo. Chieng’ was later consigned to political oblivion after unsuccessfully vying for the Ndhiwa parliamentary seat in 1992. He lost it to the late Orwa Ojode.
Ndhiwa politician Rosemary Rumo was also appointed to the board of Lake Victoria Water Services board while Susan Wakiaga was appointed to the board of Agricultural Development Corporation.
     The appointment of Eric Nyamunga as commissioner of the Energy Regulatory Commission has also elicited mixed reactions. Nyamunga is a former Nyando MP who lost in 2007 elections to Fred Outa.
     During the 2013 elections, he did not however, contest but his wife, Rose Nyamunga, the Kisumu women rep vied for on ODM ticket and won. Nyamunga has been in political oblivion since 2007 and sources say he has been concentrating on family business.
      By the time of the appointment, sources say he had secretly reached out to top TNA operatives to give him a job as he prepares to make another stab at the parliamentary slot. Sources further say Nyamunga was to contest the Nyando seat in 2017 after indications were rife that his wife had fallen out with the electorate as she was being seen as a sympathiser of Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma. 
      The appointment of a number of Luos to various boards comes in the wake of claims by ODM leaders led by Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo that Uhuru had targeted the Luo community by sacking them from government jobs.
      Jakoyo had accused Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto of weeding out civil servants from communities that were considered Cord strongholds. But even as Jakoyo and section of ODM leadership cried foul, Uhuru went out of his way and donated slots in the cabinet for Luos.
    He appointed Rachel Omamo as the Defence cabinet secretary. She is the daughter of former Bondo MP and former minister Odongo Omamo, who comes from Raila’s home area of Bondo.
    Another appointee from the region is Colleta Suda who was appointed as principal secretary for Science and Technology. Uhuru also appointed Major Jeoff Otieno ambassador to Egypt.
      Immediate former Alego Usonga MP Edwin Yinda was also given a political lifeline by Uhuru after he was appointed the ICT Authority chairman while TNA secretary general Onyango Oloo was appointed chairman of Lake Basin Development Authority.