CORD: Wetang’ula and Khalwale spooked from comfort zones and cornered in political no-man’s land


23 Mar 2016 | by By Dan Okunyanyi
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CORD: Wetang’ula and Khalwale spooked from comfort zones and cornered in political no-man’s land

Senators Moses Wetangula of Bungoma and his sidekick Bonny Khalwale from Kakamega are drowning in the deep-end of political isolation after their soft underbelly was rapidly exposed by a combination of their own actions and machinations in their dalliance of convenience with Cord.

The senators are now looking for a soft landing in an increasingly hostile political wilderness after styling themselves as masters of the political chess game, but now find themselves outwitted, out maneuvered and outgunned. That the “chase game” can be turned so blindly against the two now fixed between a rock and hard place with the same dose of political conman ship being used against them, reveals they have been standing on quite fickle ground of rhetoric and their assumed mantle has been laying thin on substance.

Wetangula’s presumptuous presidential launch in Kakamega was roundly rejected by his ODM partners in the western region and had to be postponed twice last week with no certainty that it will ever take off. The excuse was the non-availability of Cord co-principals Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyioka whose presence was a subject of ridiculing the Senator for inviting competitors to his launch as if they would endorse him. However, it emerged last week that the headwinds were created by Wycliffe Oparanya, the ODM Deputy Party Leader and Governor of Kakamega who blocked the use of the Muliro Gardens venue.  Oparanya cannot stomach the idea that his arch-critic Senator Bonny Khalwale who has declared interest in his job is being propped by Ford-Kenya on his tuff. More accurately Cord principals asked Wetangula to shelve the event fearing the divisive upheaval the launch has attracted.  

As political alignments take shape, it appears no one wants to touch the two and they have turned to playing ‘political brokers” to try and please their uneasy puppeteers, or at worst seek accommodation by force into Musalia Mudavadi’s growing Amani National Congress (ANC). As would happen with jilted lovers in emotional second choices, the two birds have designed a scheme to improve their standing in Cord by raiding ANC officials to boost their bargaining power in Cord, but mainly to threaten Mudavadi onto a negotiating table where they assume they will browbeat him into surrendering specific strongholds to Ford-Kenya were it to affiliate with ANC. 

Weekly Citizen can disclose that whenever the duo troop to the Coast, they eventfully revel in nights of chicanery and partying at a joint owned by one of ANC national officials in Mombasa. The night club located in Nyali is where they go with tall stories about their prowess to receive hand-outs from business people.  They extort goodies from county officials under guise of offering them protection. In one such incident on their way to campaign in Malindi recently, they received ksh100,000 from a Mombasa county official to only boast of paying a ksh1,500 bill. Severally, our sources have busted the two in deep whispered discussions with the ANC official and can now reveal that he has been offered unattainable schemes which he has declined. It is revealed that in exchange for a direct nomination and guarantee for unopposed sailing as Nyali MP in the next elections, the official would then defect to F-K.

One just needs to look at the political players in Coast and Mombasa to know that Wetang’ula and Khalwale with their F-K have no influence and were selling the ANC official a fool’s errand of hot air which he rejected. F-K has only one elected MP Khatib Mwashetani of LungaLunga and F-K Deputy party leader who has since defected to Jubilee.  The Nyali seat is currently held by the boisterous Hezron Awiti who despite having won on a Wiper ticket is a Raila financier, confidant and has declared to challenge ODM Deputy Party leader Hassan Joho for Governor despite Joho also being a heavy Raila financier. Joho was able to extract the position of ODM deputy leader and that of secretary general  for Ababu Namwamba after the men in black fame bungled ODM national elections by dint of threatening to withdraw financial support.  How minors like Wetang’ula and Khalwale expect to snatch a lucrative Nyali seat from Raila’s financial backers is the story of two blind mice in a fool’s paradise. Interestingly, Joho and the ANC official are known good business friends and for the duo to imagine he can only gain access or support from Joho through their intervention convinced the ANC official he was dealing with desperados.

But back to their loneliness, desperado captures some image of lost sheep being swept away drowning in a torrential river. The mist the duo has found themselves in is self-inflicted; from marital turbulence to political arrogance. Wetang’ula was hit last week with a marital Tsunami that left him dump. Accusing his wife Ann of infidelity allegedly with somebody at the office of the Deputy President, the piqued Senator rained blows in the middle of the night on his second wife with whom he has sired two children. Despite his anti-Kikuyu rhetoric, Wetangula is married to their own Ann.

It is whispered in the corridors of power that it was through contacts of the Kikuyu lady in government that helped the Senator overcome the threat of being deregistered as a voter by IEBC. It was indeed interesting to observers how casually IEBC avoided penalizing the Senator despite the Supreme Court affirming that he committed a criminal electoral offence of bribery. However, in the wake of bribery claims that corruption taints Judiciary, the IEBC is even more vulnerable to manipulation and intimidation given the Chickengate scandal. Besides, commissioners desire to stay in office beyond their term this year makes them easy prey for government using tyranny of numbers that can decide their fate.  

In return for the IEBC favour, Wetang’ula is expected sooner rather than latter to defect to Jubilee with assurance he would be made the western kingpin to determine Jubilee candidates and be supported for Governor. This is because ODM die-hards have told Raila in no uncertain terms that they don’t recognize Wetangula’s position as co-principal of Cord that he uses to lord over them in Western region. Thus Wetang’ula knows he has outlived his usefulness in Cord given the Raila-Kalonzo MOU removes him from Cord aspirant and must find largesse elsewhere. Indeed, close associates quote the senator as conceding that unlike Raila whom Mt. Kenya powerbrokers have vowed never to allow him become president on account fear of revenge, Wetang’ula is distasted because he’s too erratic, unpredictable and with ambitions that know no bounds.

It is indeed becoming obvious that whenever Raila hosts Wetangula, the trio of Deputy ODM party leader Wycliffe Oparanya, Secretary General Ababu Namwamba and Vice-Chairman Paul Otuoma give the events a wide berth and never been comfortable with such dalliance. The same applies to Joho who kept him at arm’s length throughout the Malindi by-election on account of his penchant for financial pleas.

The spectacle of the trio of Oparanya, Ababu and Otuoma warming up to ANC Musalia Mudavadi with Oparanya and Ababu approving his candidature and Otuoma taking the bold step of accompanying Mudavadi to ANC functions are symptoms of ODM’s rank-and-file discontent against Wetang’ula. It is in realization of the divisive presence of Wetangula in western that Raila took the unprecedented swipe at the Senator in his own backyard of Bungoma. Raila invited him to an ODM function in February and told Wetangula to his face to stop dreaming about the presidency as if the previous chorus by Luo MPs against Wetang’ula’s announced launch of his candidature on Cord had not been enough.

To illustrate further how Wetang’ula is viewed derisively by Luo ODM MPs as a nuisance and irritant, the debate in Parliament on amendments to the Political Parties Act last week took an ominous turn when they launched a veiled attack on the flimsiness of Wetang’ula in accounting for party funds donated by ODM. Disguising support for amendments by shrill Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, Wetang’ula’s lone sidekick in the National Assembly, Raila confidants Suba MP and ODM National chairman John Mbadi, ideologue Ugunja MP Wandayi and Raila’s cousin Jakoyo Midiwo of Gem took turns at Wetang’ula saying the threshold to access political party funding should be lowered to enable each party directly account for funds because ODM was suffering credibility problems in accounting after sharing its portion with coalition partners.

The Luo MPs have never forgiven Wetang’ula for riding on Raila to give tickets to ODM defectors in the 2013 elections. Some of the defectors went defeated ODM candidates and have entitled Wetang’ula to ODM funds despite performing poorly in western. “Mr. Speaker, after sharing our funds with our partners, the blame on accountability is left to ODM to shoulder alone”, cried Wandayi confirming rumuored discontent at Orange House about petty invoices by Wetang’ula.

To rein in his other disciple, Raila maneuvered Khalwale removal from the powerful Public Accounts and Investments Committee (PAIC) to appease governors, especially so Oparanya against whom the prickly senator had waged a relentless war of wearing him away on corruption allegations. When Raila met ODM governors in Kisumu, they warned him that with Khalwale at PAIC, they had no way of pilfering funds in support of ODM activities. On the other hand, Oparanya circles claim Khalwale war is a disguised revenge mission after the governor declined to appoint the senator’s preferred names as county ministers thus denying him lucrative tenders.

The fact that Raila has set Khalwale to rain on his deputy party leader to the extent of being encouraged to challenge for governor in 2017 has irked Oparanya who resorted to illegally appointing his county officers as ODM county officials as a safeguard against Raila denying him the party ticket in favour of the senator. Illegally because state and civil servants officers like his chief of staff Nabii Nabwera are denied holding elective political party positions by law. However, the altercation also arises from fear on insistence by ODM that Kakamega County has been zoned off as an ODM zone where no Cord partner should field candidates hence the combative Khalwale and his closeness to Raila.  For Oparanya, failsafe position would be to pull out of ODM with the whole county ODM structure and leave Raila gasping for survival were he to pick Khalwale for governor. 

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