Chirau Ali Mwakwere. (Photo: Willis Awandu/Standard)
Former High Commissioner to Tanzania Chirau Ali Mwakwere has denied joining Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) prior to moving to the Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) this week.
For close to two months, Mwakwere had been associated with the Orange party after appearing in photos with Raila and ODM deputy leader Ali Hassan Joho, who is also Mombasa Governor.
But when he suddenly announced he was moving to Wiper some Opposition leaders in Kwale and Coast felt betrayed. Mwakwere does not believe he has betrayed anyone because he never joined any party.
It appears he has worked out the ethnic numbers in Kwale, where the ethnic Kamba who are in Wiper (WDM) form the third largest voting bloc.
Some believe his gamble could aid Jubilee and Governor Salim Mvurya in August, while others believe he left ODM in a fury after failing to secure a direct nomination at the primaries. Speaking to The Standard on Saturday, Mwakwere said both Wiper and ODM are part of the National Super Alliance (NASA) and at no time has he ever claimed to be in ODM or Jubilee.
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“Those saying I ditched Jubilee or ODM for Wiper let them mention my membership number. I have never been to Jubilee… I went to Tanzania when I was in URP and came back when the party no longer existed. When I arrived I never said I was joining ODM but NASA,” said Mwakwere who lost the 2013 senatorial race to the late Boy Juma Boy after vying on a United Republican Party (URP) ticket. Now, the former Matuga MP says that prior to joining WDM he explained his calculation to all NASA principals.
It is unclear whether Joho, who is believed to be behind Mwakwere’s defection to the Opposition, was aware of Mwakwere’s move to Wiper. Joho has been in the US for the last two weeks.
He said in ODM he met party leader Raila and his deputy Joho, Kalonzo Musyoka (WDM), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya). “I told them of my willingness to join NASA and because politics is dynamic I chose Wiper after my own analysis and what was dictated to me by people of Kwale,” he added.
He said he has no problem with any of the principals and that his main goal is to clinch the gubernatorial seat from the incumbent Salim Mvurya.
He also said his moving to WDM is not in any way associated with him fearing ODM’s party primaries as alleged by critics. “What some people are saying is neither here nor there. Ask any one to do calculations and you will probably see why I picked Wiper,” he said.
His move has however not gone down well with a section of his competitors, who suspect he is scuttling chances for an ODM aspirant, Dr Issah Chipera of ODM who is Mwakwere and Mvurya’s main competitor. Dr Chipera said Mwakwere has no regard for a political party as an important institution in politics.
“He has moved because he sensed defeat after ODM leadership denied him direct party nomination. We will wait for him at the ballot box on August 8 and beat him hands down. Mwakwere’s time has expired. The move he is making is one of someone drowning,” said Chipera, who is currently in Ethiopia. His sentiments were supported by another gubernatorial aspirant, Nicholas Zani.
“He did not want to face us in the nomination and kept on knocking on party leaders’ offices to get an assurance that he will be given free nomination.
But they made it clear to him that he has to battle it out with others,” said Zani, who is also the ODM chairperson for Kwale County.
The Council of Imams and Scholars of Kenya Chairman Sheikh Hamis Banda said at no any time had Mwakwere uttered word about ODM.
He said that this showed that he was only after the party ticket and to get power but was never interested in its ideals. “During the burial of the late senator he was being told by Joho to say that he has joined ODM but he kept on saying he was in NASA. That tells you that he was not ready to be in ODM but some outside forces were only forcing him to our throats,” said Banda.
Zani now sees Mwakwere as a spoiler. Although he is from the Digo community, he says Mwakwere might bag Kamba votes that were firmly in ODM. This could give Mvurya a great chance of being re-elected.
“There is no way you can get Digo votes if you do not support Raila; therefore he will rely on the Kamba block, which might actually work against us,” added Zani.