The enemy within: Why ‘friendly fire’ could be NASA’s Achilles heel

NASA leaders led by flag bearer Raila Odinga wave to the crowd at Kapsabet showground in Nandi County during a political rally.04-06-2017. PHOTO BY: KEVIN TUNOI

The NASA top rank led by presidential candidate Raila Odinga have put on a brave face, holding charged rallies as they focus on chipping away President Uhuru Kenyatta’s chances of re-election despite simmering tensions in the alliance.

But behind the scenes lies an enemy within that is causing tensions and anxiety that could put Jubilee in a position to pick a few valuable seats in NASA’s strongholds of Ukambani, Coast, Nyanza and Western.

Then there is the murky business of candidates from NASA affiliate parties — ODM, ANC, Wiper and Ford Kenya — who are pitted against each other.

Nasty fights

Sticky issues in NASA include the unending feud between Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and his erstwhile key pillar in Ukambani Johnstone Muthama to the nasty fight between nominated ODM party candidates and independents in Nyanza.

The violence that erupted in Kisumu yesterday is a pointer to how bad things are in Nyanza. Nyando MP Fred Outa, who is vying for the Kisumu senatorial seat on the ODM ticket, was forced to fire in the air to scare a hostile crowd baying for his blood accusing him of rigging party primaries.

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The chaos was a culmination of tension that had been building between supporters of ODM and those of Independendent candidates.

In the Ukambani duel, a leaked audio in circulation has raised tension between Kalonzo and Muthama’s supporters while at the Coast, Governor Hassan Joho is engaged in a battle with Senator Hassan Omar, who is running on a Wiper ticket, as the principals watch without meddling. Nyali MP Awiti Bollo, another notable stable member who also bolted from Wiper, is running as an independent and has mounted a spirited campaign against Joho.

With the three going for each other, rank outsider Suleiman Shahbal whose Jubilee Party is fairing badly the region, could be in with a shout.

In Western, Dr Bonny Khalwale, who is contesting for position of governor in Kakamega, yesterday asked Raila to leave candidates in the region to sort each other out at the ballot.

“He should leave us alone to do our politics because we are all supporting his presidential candidature,” said Khalwale in reference to Raila’s call asking voters to elect a six-piece lineup that will see ODM sweep all available positions in the area.

In Nyanza, National Assembly Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo, MP Nicholas Gumbo and Woman Representative aspirant Florence Aluodo have told Raila to concentrate on his presidential campaigns and let the people chose county leaders.

“I do not mind Raila’s message on six-piece voting because he is campaigning for his party, but he should not forget that voters know what happened during the nominations and will vote for the independent candidates,” said Midiwo.

In Nairobi, candidates are wondering why Raila has not intervened in places like Makadara where former Mayor George Aladwa and former MP Reuben Ndolo are locked in a tough fight. This situation transcends Makadara and into other city constituencies.

All these as President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee puts its house in order (See separate story on Page 20).

The most damaging row, however, is between Kalonzo and Senator Muthama. This feud is rearing its ugly head once again, a few weeks after Raila told Muthama to stop attacking Kalonzo.

The pompous senator has been captured on audio recording sounding a death knell for the Wiper party and its leader. An affidavit sworn by Muthama was used by IEBC to kick out Wiper’s Machakos governor candidate Wavinya Ndeti for allegedly being a member of two parties against the provisions of the Political Parties Act. Mrs Ndeti has since appealed against the decision in the High Court on Friday.

In the leaked audio recording, which is in our possession, a bitter Muthama, believed to be speaking to a Kalonzo confidante named Dominic, says that it is due to “frustrations and disrespect” that he chose to ditch Wiper and abandon his senatorial seat.

Muthama revisits the manner in which Wiper entered into coalition agreements with Muungano Party and Chama Cha Uzalendo (CCU) bringing on board Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana and the then CCU leader Wavinya Ndeti.

Vowing to bring down Kalonzo, the senator says the Wiper leader entered into those agreements without consulting “senior party members” such as himself and Kitui Senator David Musila. In April, Musila resigned as Wiper chairman after he was defeated by Kitui Governor Julius Malombe in party primaries.

But Muthama sounds more irked by the manner in which Mrs Ndeti was torpedoed to higher echelons of Wiper politics, clouding the scene for Deputy Governor Bernard Kiala whom he prefers as candidate.

“Just the other day, he chose defector Wavinya and Mathuki yet he knows I’m against such things…and he can’t consult me even if he disrespects me because I know he disrespects me…the same way he shamelessly picked Kivutha (Kibwana, in Makueni) without consulting any of us),” Muthama laments.

He accuses Kalonzo of making disparaging remarks against him and alludes to an alleged phone call in which the former VP called Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula on the eve of the unveiling of NASA presidential candidate at Uhuru Park.

‘Bad character’

According to Muthama, Wetang’ula accidentally placed Kalonzo’s call on loud speaker.
“He told Wetangula ‘Muthama is a bad character and I will do whatever I can to stop this man. His (Muthama’s) problem is because he never went to school properly, otherwise he would not do the things he is doing,” Muthama quotes Kalonzo as saying.

“So I asked Wetang’ula, why would I go to Uhuru Park where I know I will be given a chance to speak and I will not mention him (Kalonzo)? That is why I did not show up,” Muthama says, adding that since then, the Wiper leader has been setting people against him.

The senator says over the years he has sacrificed a lot for the community and was bitter at how Kalonzo was taking him for a ride. He claimed by sacrificing his political ambitions for the sake of the community, he had become more popular than Kalonzo.

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