Jubilee candidates in Ukambani are trading accusations with a party lobby group over low key campaigns to marshal support for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election in the opposition stronghold.
With less than 10 days to the polls, a team of top professionals from the region assembled to spearhead Jubilee campaigns is yet to hold a single rally or voter mobilisation, prompting party parliamentary candidates to accuse them of letting down the President.
In an attempt to enhance his vote numbers in the region that voted overwhelmingly for Cord in 2013 polls, President Kenyatta had roped in prominent figures from Kitui, Machakos and Makueni counties to complement the campaigns by elected MPs.
However, with the campaigns already on the homestretch, the team, known as Woni group, is yet to hit the ground and is still wrangling with candidates over ineffective Jubilee campaigns.
Jubilee candidates led by Mbooni MP Kisoi Munyao accuse the group of “political naivety by running their show from the comfort of their offices in Nairobi and expecting to deliver tangible results for the President”.
Mr Munyao said the group, which includes people who have benefitted from presidential appointments to head key State corporations, only shows up during President Kenyatta’s tours in the region.
“These guys claim to be in charge of Jubilee campaigns in Ukambani but we only see them whenever the President and his deputy William Ruto are around, after that they vanish back to Nairobi,” Mr Munyao told the Sunday Nation.
Ukambani is the home turf of Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, the running mate of Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga.
In 2013, the Jubilee pair garnered 89,064 votes across the three counties against Mr Odinga’s and Mr Musyoka’s 768,025 votes.
Mr Munyao accused the Woni team, headed by Embu University Chancellor Paul Musili Wambua, of trying to take credit for other people’s campaign efforts.
Key figures in the team include Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, Deputy Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita, principal secretaries Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), Mutua Kilaka (Treasury) and Victor Kyalo (ICT).
Others are parastatal bosses: Dr Isaac Kalua of Kenya Water Towers Agency, Mr Kennedy Mulwa, who chairs Mumias Sugar Company Board, Mr Fred Muteti of Sports Kenya, former Chief of General Staff Jeremiah Kianga, who chairs Kenya Railways Board, tycoon Peter Muthoka and former anti-graft boss Mumo Matemu, among others.
Mr Munyao’s sentiments were shared by Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu who dismissed the group as “influence peddlers who had lost touch with the reality of Ukambani politics”.
Mr Mutambu said there is no contribution from Woni group for whatever votes the President will get in Ukambani and that they better keep off to avoid bringing confusion.
“Who are these other people purporting to help the President at this late hour?
“Where were they when we were called all sorts of names including betrayers of the Kamba community?” Mr Mutambu asked.
However, the two MPs singled out Mr Muthoka for his contribution in financing and coordinating Jubilee campaigns.