The hostility that met former Cabinet Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere entry to ODM in Kwale could have forced him to shift to the Wiper Democratic Movement as he eyes the gubernatorial seat.
During a series of meetings in the county, ODM leaders had expressed unease over Mr Mwakwere’s shift to the party at the eleventh hour, at the time when they had invested their resources and energies ahead of the August polls.
Kwale ODM vice-chairman Nicholas Zani had told the Nation in an earlier interview that it emerged during a meeting to strategise on the party’s senatorial candidate following the death of Boy Juma Boy there was increasing rejection for “newcomers” to the party like Mr Mwakwere.
Mr Zani is a brother to ODM secretary general Agnes Zani who is interested in the senatorial seat.
Msambweni ODM sub-county chairlady Fatuma Juma had also warned: “We cannot accept projects to come here and get the party tickets at the expense of people who have been with the party and built it to its current strength and popularity today.”
Mr Mwakwere’s running mate, Mr Simeon Mkala who attended the meeting had vouched for every aspirant to be given equal chance in ODM. Mr Mkala who represented Mr Mwakwere at the meeting said that any form of “dictatorship” would spoil the party in the county which is seeking a united front to face Jubilee Party.
“We want anyone who feels they need to stand for any seat on ODM or Nasa be given equal opportunity. There should be no influence whatsoever because endorsing candidates will surely create problems for us,” he said.
During late Boy’s burial in Vanga, speakers including Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho had pressed Mr Mwakwere to state which party he belonged to but the former Kenya’s envoy to Tanzania only stated he was in National Super Alliance.
Earlier, Mr Mwakwere had leaned towards ODM and even met its top leaders including former Mr Raila Odinga and Mr Joho, a key political kingpin at the Coast.
“I want today to clear the air, I have quit Jubilee Party and now I am with my people in NASA,” Mr Mwakwere told ODM supporters during his homecoming in Kwale after resigning as Kenya’s ambassador to Tanzania.
He promised his commitment to the party and ensure NASA wins in Kwale in the August 8, vote.
Mr Mwakwere of the “Zipapa” fame jumped ship to Wiper on Thursday and was received by Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
Mr Mwakwere vied for the Kwale senatorial seat on a URP ticket in 2013 polls but lost to the late Boy who was on ODM.
Other aspirants seeking the ODM ticket to dethrone Governor Salim Mvurya are County Assembly Speaker Sammy Ruwa, former Permanent Secretary Mohammed Mwarapayo, Mr Zani, Mr Gereza Dena and Mr Issa Chipera.
ODM which still regarded as dominant party in Kwale was hit by the defection of Mr Mvurya and women representative Zainab Chidzuga to JP.
Some ODM aspirants in the county are said to have threatened to rally locals to back Mr Mvurya’s re-election if Mr Mwakwere was ‘imposed’ as ODM candidate for the governor’s seat.
Mr Mwakwere fell out with ODM diehards in the county in 2013 polls due to his heavy criticism of the party and Mr Odinga, a thing local pundits argue could also have made it difficult for the likes of Mr Joho to campaign for him.
On Thursday, Mr Zani said Mr Mwakwere had not “fully” associated with ODM and could have quit after realising he would not get ‘direct’ ticket.
The ex-Matuga MP, according to him, had demanded for direct ticket to join the party.
“We are six of us eyeing the gubernatorial seat on ODM ticket. Why should he think he is special to be given direct ticket?” Mr Zani asked.
He added, “Joining Wiper was a foregone conclusion but if Nasa holds joint nominations I don’t know what he will do.”
Mr Mwakwere’s move to decamp to Wiper could further fuel rivalry between Wiper and ODM aspirants in the Coast, a thing that could pave way to JP to penetrate the region.
In Mombasa, Mr Joho is facing a stiff challenge from Senator Hassan Omar and Nyali MP Hezron Awiti, both of Wiper with JP aspirant Suleiman Shahbal waiting to benefit from the spoils.
Nasa is still mulling over conducting joint nominations for its candidates to stand a better chance of beating JP.