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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 24 August 2014


Even as Cord leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula launched a campaign drive for the collection of one million signatures across the country to support their bid for a national referendum, the ruling Jubilee coalition is now dangling carrots to a number of opposition MPs to woo them to its side and scuttle the push for a referendum.

It was the Deputy President William Ruto who once told off Raila that his referendum call was bound to fail and said as a ruling coalition, they have a strategy that they will unleash at the appropriate time. Could the buying out of opposition MPs be the strategy Ruto talked about?

And as Raila warns Jubilee under Uhuru Kenyatta to prepare for a tough battle at the proposed Cord referendum, Uhuru is said to be working on an elaborate plan to stifle the referendum at the initial stages and is now said to have sent out his damage control team to reach out to opposition allied MPs with favours, even financial pledges, should they oppose the referendum calls.

After Jubilee’s plot to lure opposition MPs leaked out, Raila in a hard hitting statement to Cord MPs cautioned them to be wary of the government’s trickery and goodies to woo them to quit the referendum train.

Apart from compromising the opposition MPs, the government is also said to be exploring a raft of options to scuttle the looming contest which the opposition has now termed as a popularity contest between Uhuru and Raila.

And in another twist, MCAs at their convention at Bomas of Kenya on Saturday, appeared divided on the issue with Nairobi county speaker Alex Ole Magelo warning that with the trend the debate on the referendum was going was like “courting a revolution in the country”.

Last week, Uhuru dismissed the push for the referendum, terming it a waste of taxpayers’ money and an unnecessary venture. National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale is also on record saying they are working on a counter attack plot that will see only a handful of opposition MPs remain in support for the referendum process being agitated by the opposition Cord. The plot is to isolate Raila and to clip his political wings.

In Kericho, a section of Rift Valley MPs went to the extent of threatening to reopen the impeachment talk on Bomet governor Isaac Ruto if he insists on pushing for the referendum. Led by Senator Charles Keter, MPs Benjamin Langat of Ainamoi, Eric Keter of Belgut, Joseph Limo of Kipkelion East, Jackson Rop of Kipkelion West, Justice Kemei of Sigowet Soin and Leonard Sang of Buret, they said Governor Ruto was speaking for himself alone when he recently said Bomet is for referendum. The area MCAs also disassociated themselves from Governor Ruto and accused him of being anti-development for preoccupying himself with rhetoric instead of tangible projects with a direct positive impact on voters.

As for Uhuru, unlike before when he dismissed calls for national dialogue, the reality has now sunk that if Cord wins a referendum, it can be interpreted as a no confidence in the government but if it wins, it is an affirmation of the Jubilee government in the throne of power. It is against this background that Uhuru is now taking the matter seriously and wants to do away with Raila once and for all by handing him a humiliating second defeat in as many years.

Towards that end, business tycoons who supported Uhuru’s presidential bid in 2013 have been approached to finance the Jubilee anti-referendum campaigns.
The strategy of compromising the opposition MPs with huge financial handouts is to thwart any contest between Raila and Uhuru that may give the opposition leader a launch pad for his 2017 presidential bid he announced recently. If Cord wins the referendum, it will use it as a campaign tool ahead of 2017 elections.

Initially, Uhuru had thought that Kenyans were against holding referendum but has now come to the reality that it is gaining momentum by day in certain corners.
It is for this reason that Jubilee operatives have vowed to fight tooth and nail to make sure the referendum call is defeated even before it starts. According to political analysts, Cord stands to benefit from the referendum more than Jubilee if it wins since going by the ethnic and political party affiliations, it will hardly be about voting on the issues or questions at hand but either a support or rejection of the government of the day.

Analysts further say that for Cord to come up with the referendum calls and knowing well that Jubilee has a greater financial muscle to bankroll the referendum campaigns, the plot is just to test their popularity against Uhuru and Jubilee and secondly, it is a game plan to keep them relevant by intoxicating the gullible masses with politics as it waits for 2017 general elections.

Jubilee’s main worry is that apart from being able to collect more than the one million signatures required, Cord controls 24 counties and could easily influence their governors to get even more than one million signatures from other counties just to make a political show of might.

Already there is discontent among opposition MPs especially from Coast who are said to have one foot in Cord and the other one in Jubilee. Jubilee is now said to have allocated billions of shillings for development in Coast region. The calculation here is that because Cord comes empty-handed, the advantage will be on Jubilee.

Among the MPs Jubilee has succeeded in dealing with include Badi Twalib (Jomvu), Rashid Bezimba (Kisauni), Abdulswamad Shariff (Mvita), Awiti Bolo (Nyali), Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi North), Mustaffa Iddi (Kilifi South), Peter Shehe (Ganze, FPK), Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate), Omar Mwinyi (Changamwe),  Suleiman Dori (Msambweni), Khatibu Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Salim Mvurya (Matuga), Gunga Mwinga (Kaloleni, Kadu-Asili), William Kamoti (Rabai), Dan Kazungu (Malindi), Julius Kariuki (Lamu East), Ali Shariff Athman (Lamu East, UDF), Thomas Mwadegu (Wundanyi), Jones Mlolwa (Voi). Also playing ball are women reps Zainab Chidzuga Kalekye (Kwale), Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi), Halima Were (Tana-River), Shakila Abdallah (Lamu) and Joyce Wanjala of Taita-Taveta.

Tigania East MP Mpuri Apuri and his Central counterpart Cyprian Kubai recently declared that they were not going to back Raila on the referendum issue.
The only two ODM MPs from Jubilee’s stronghold Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama and his Laikipia North counterpart Mathew Lembakue are also daring the party on its referendum push.

The two have openly stated their stand and have has lashed out at Raila, accusing him of pushing Kenyans to a referendum they do not need. Arama said he is ready to lose his ODM parliamentary seat for speaking the truth about Raila.

Also targeted are Protus Ewesit Akuja (Loima), Nixon Ngikolong (Turkana East), Samuel Moroto (Pokot), Ferdinand Wanyonyi (Kwanza) and David Wafula (Saboti) and Hellen Sambili (Mogotio).

Kajiado Central MP Joseph Nkaissery and his counterpart Juda Katoo are also being talked to by Jubilee. Nkaissery is on record for telling Cord not to plunge the country into an election mood by calling for a referendum but instead wait for the next general election in 2017. He has of late been more close to Jubilee than Cord.

In Raila’s backyard of Nyanza, a number of MPs have declared they are not going to support the referendum. Simon Ogari (Bomachoge), Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache),  Aluoch Olago (Kisumu West), Oyugi Magwanga (Kasipul), James Rege (Karachuonyo), Dalmas Otieno (Rongo), Stephen Kengere (Bobasi), Elijah Musomi (Nyaribari Masaba), Chris Bichage Nyaribari Chache), Momaima Onyonka ( Kitutu Chache South), Timothy Bosire ( Kitutu Masaba), James Ondicho (West Mugirango)  and Charles Makuti (North Mugirango) are said to on Jubilee’s sights.

From Western region, those  targeted are among those who had publicly declared that they are not for the referendum. They are Ababu Namwamba (Budalangi), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), Ayub Savula (Lugari), Enoch Kibuguchi (Likuyani), Raphael Otaalo (Lurambi), Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo), Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), Andrew Toboso (Butere), Benjamin Andola (Khwisero), Silvestre Lisamula (Shinyalu), Shinali Bernard (Ikolomani) and Yusuf Chanzu (Vihiga).

Others being targeted are Alfred Agoi (Sabatia), Charles Gimose (Hamisi), John Waluke (Sirisia), Alfred Sambu (Webuye), Otsiula Boniface (Bumula), Dan Wanyama (Webuye West), John Bunyasi (Nambale), Geofrey Odaga (Matayos) and Michael Onyura (Butula), Chris Omulele (Luanda), Wilbur Otichillo ( Emuhaya).

In Nairobi County, Jubilee is said to be working overnight to bring on board  Simba Arati (Dagoretti North) and Mohammed Sumra (Embakasi North), There are also whispers that there are attempts to lure the recently elected Mathare MP, Stephen Kariuki.

In the North Eastern region, majority leader Aden Duale is the man tasked with the duty of ensuring MPs abandon Raila. They are Abdikadir Omar (Balambala), Mohamed Dahir (Dadaab), Ahmed Abbas (Ijara), Ibrahim  Saley (Wajir north), Mohamed Ibrahim (Tarbaj), Abdikadir Ore (Wajir West) Adan Keynan (Eldas), Ruba Duba (Moyale), Abdulahi Zirie (Wajir South), Chachu Ganya (North Horr)  and Joseph Lekuton of Laisamis.

In the Kalonzo’s political backyard, MPs have declared that they are not going to back referendum. They include John Munuve (Mwingi North), Benard Kitunge (Mwingi West), John Mutambu (Mwingi Central), Charles Nyamai (Kitui Rural), Makali Mulu (Kitui Central), Mutua Muluri (Kitui East), Benson Mbai (Masinga), Francis Mwangangi (Yatta), Stephen Mutinda (Mutungulu), Robert Mbui (Kathainai) and Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town).

Others are Michael Kisoi (Mbooni), Vincent Musyoka (Mwala), Regina Ndambuki (Kilome), Richard Katemi (Kaiti), Daniel Kitonga (Makueni) and Jessica Nduku (Kibwezi East). It is to be remembered that Ukambani was mainly No in the last referendum due to the clergy factor and legislators are still waiting to see which way the church will go this time round.

Apart from MPs, Jubilee is said to have also made attempts to reach out to opposition women reps to help them shoot down the referendum calls. Among them are Fatuma Ibrahim (Wajir), Nasra Ibrahim (Marsabit), Nyiva Mwendwa (Kitui), Susan Musyoka (Machakos), Rose Museo (Makueni), Janet Nangabo (Trans Nzoia), Rachel Amolo (Kakamega), Dorcas Kedogo (Vihiga), Reginalda Wanyonyi (Bungoma), Florence Mwikali (Busia), Mary Otara (Kisii) and Alice Chae of Nyamira county.

Although it is assumed that those close to Raila and Kalonzo can not easily fall into the Jubilee trap, it is said that Cord chief whip Francis Nyenze and his deputy Jakoyo Midiwo are frequent midnight vistors to State House.

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