July 25th 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

With a party aimed at Luyias, Namwamba has entered familiar, crowded territory

But in forming ‘a Luyia party’ Hon. Namwamba will have to contend with better competitors. Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetangula, Cyrus Jirongo and Kenneth Marende already have political outfits they are using to rally the Luyia community's unity.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 23 Sep 2016 13:04 EAT

Hon. Namwamba (centre) is flanked by his party officials Julia Ojiambo (left) and David Makali (right) during the launch of LPK last night.

The relaunch of the Labour Party of Kenya last night by Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba has sent the blogosphere marveling at the deep depths the former ODM secretary general has sunk.

Hon. Namwamba’s big launch turned to be a disappointing anticlimax for a person who was once seen as a rising star in national politics. He assembled what most analysts have described as a village party at the Mamba Village, the venue of the launch.

Perhaps reflecting the MP’s dwindling political stock, there were no parliamentary colleagues to give him company on what was obviously one of the biggest days of his life. While the MP had promised to launch a big “Third Force” to take on CORD and Jubilee, the announced lineup of his new party consists mainly of political rejects or nonentities.

What’s more, the party leadership comprised of people from only Busia and Bungoma counties, both being in Western Kenya. Members of the Luyia community were incensed that Hon. Namwamba, once a promising politician, was continuing through the launch to perpetuate the notion that Luyia politicians don’t have national ambitions.

Hon. Namwamba is the party leader, though his personal assistant Clara Mayaka will be holding brief until he shall have officially defected from ODM once Parliament dissolves for the 2017 elections. The party’s chairperson is Julia Ojiambo and its organizing secretary is Peter Kubebea, both being residents of Busia County like Namwamba.

Only the secretary general, David Makali, is the outsider, but he comes from the neighbouring Bungoma. Ms Ojiambo, Kubebea and Makali have contested political offices in recent years as also-rans. It was evident that Hon. Namwamba wanted the party to be seen as belonging to the Luyia community, in the spirit of ‘Mulembe Consciousness” that he has championed in recent months.

But in forming ‘a Luyia party’ Hon. Namwamba will have to contend with better competitors. Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) has been championed as the political home of the community. The former vice president, as party leader, and his secretary general is Godfrey Osotsi, who both comes from Vihiga County have usually rallied the Luyia community to unite under the ANC.

Similarly, the United Democratic Party was recently formed by former Speaker Kenneth Marende and former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo. The two held several rallies in the region to have Luyias coalese under the party.

Even CORD co-principal Moses Wetangula’s Ford-Kenya has the same ambitions of being the party for the Luyia nation. With Wetangula as party leader, the Eseli Simiyu as secretary general and Bonny Khalwale as the deputy party leader, Ford-Kenya is fighting a cold war in CORD to have the coalition zone Western Kenya for its candidates in the next elections.

At the launch event, Hon. Namwamba criticised both CORD and Jubilee coalitions, accusing them of promoting a political culture of personality cults revolving around the key coalition leaders Raila Odinga on the CORD side and Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto on the Jubilee side.

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