Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Monday, 08 May 2017 11:01 EATjmwihaki@kenyafreepress.com
A week after its launch with much fanfare, the National Super Alliance (NASA) faces a major propaganda test as the credibility of its power sharing agreement comes under scrutiny. Two coalition top leaders (Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and Bungoma senator Moses Wetangula) are gunning for elective seats in their backyards, yet they have been designated as senior cabinet secretaries in the NASA administration.
From the weekend's news reports, Mr Wetangula is not even sure whether he is running for the Bungoma seat. While Bungoma Ford-Kenya secretary Peter Wakhuleka said on Sunday that Mr Wetang'ula would be defending his seat, he was quickly overruled by Mr Wetangula's deputy in the party, Bonny Khalwale, who said that Ford-Kenya had no candidate in the Bungoma senatorial election.
Seemingly, Mr Wetangula kept faith in his campaign as the Bungoma senator yet he had not been gazzeted by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as an aspirant for the seat within the set deadlines, hence Mr Khalwale's 'clarification' about the seat a couple of hours later.
On his part, Governor Ruto was questioned by Citizen TV about his re-elections campaign despite of his being designated as the senior principal in NASA. He could not answer the question satisfactorily, only saying he will make the decision on whether to take up a cabinet appointment after NASA wins the election.
According to Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, the two leaders are hedging their bets about the election, something that raises doubts about their confidence in NASA’s capacity to win the election. "I am telling Wetangula to run for his position. He should follow the example of Governor Ruto who has seen that NASA will never be in the government," the MP said yesterday. President Uhuru Kenyatta has also criticized the positions proposed by the NASA coalition, saying they are not in the constitution.
Where NASA leaders would like to project themselves as surefooted politicians, the fact that two of them are hoping for 'junior' offices from the election has been used to project the image of NASA as a weak coalition by Jubilee. In addition, the absence of strong NASA candidates for the Nairobi senatorial election has sent signals of a rudderless coalition.
The ODM party, the senior partner in NASA, is grappling with confusion over its nominee for the Nairobi senate seat. The party had issued an automatic ticket to a nondescript aspirant called Chapia Chapia and only over the weekend tried to withdraw Chapia’s nomination in favour of lawyer Edwin Sifuna.
Interestingly, the aspirant is fighting this attempt and has hired Jubilee-leaning lawyer Kibe Mungai, who is helping expose ODM poor planning for the upcoming election. The party should have known for months that it had never had a candidate for the Nairobi senatorial seat but did nothing to get someone who carry the day.
For months, it was speculated that ODM was appealing to senators Khalwale and Johnstone Muthama of Machakos, but these leaders apparently turned down the offers. Sometime in March, former National Assembly speaker Kenneth Marende toyed with the idea of running for the seat on an ODM ticket but withdrew.
Suddenly over the weekend, after party leader Raila Odinga himself had given the ticket to Chapia in a highly-publicised event, the former PM called the aspirant to a meeting and asked him to step down for lawyer Edwin Sifuna, who had failed in his bid for the Kanduyi parliamentary nomination.
"ODM primaries in Bungoma took place much earlier than Nairobi ones. How it escaped our leadership that a gap existed of a weak candidate beats logic but is a cool reminder that we need to apportion responsibility for certain things within the party. Someone in charge of political affairs is sleeping on the job," wrote ODM supporter Hesbon Omollo.
Away from the candidatures of its leaders, NASA also got itself on the defensive when it was reported that Mr Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo had lined up their relatives for election as members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
The reports showed that Mr Odinga had recommended his brother Oburu Odinga, 74, just a week after the ageing nominated MP lost in the primaries to represent the Bondo constituency in the National Assembly. Mr Musyoka had reportedly named his son Kennedy, who has no political experience, to represent the Wiper party in the regional parliament.
Kenyans rose in unison to condemn the proposals, forcing ODM to release a statement that Dr Oburu Odinga had rejected the party's suggestion that he be appointed to EALA. The damage, however, was already done, with social media commentators lamenting Mr Odinga's deterimination to put his kin in positions of authority, deserved or otherwise.