Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Monday, 03 Oct 2016 21:20 EATdkiraka@kenyafreepress.com
A split seems to be emerging in the CORD coalition following increased calls by individual parties to back their own candidates for prime elective seats, in particular governorship of key contested counties. Over the weekend, the respective parties made autonomous forays into different parts of the country in a bid to popularize themselves.
Creating the immediate flashpoint is the campaign for the Mombasa governorship position over which the Wiper Party has emerged as an opponent of ODM's whose candidate is the incumbent Governor Hassan Joho. Wiper Party leader Kaloanzo Musyoka's visit to Mombasa last week revealed the deep fissures that analysts have warned can mark the unravelling of the coalition's recently-crafted power-sharing pact.
Musyoka said his visit was aimed at capturing the gubernatorial seat. Two Wiper members, Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar and Nyali MP Hezron Awiti, are running against Joho. Musyoka asked the two to work together noting that through cooperation, they will be able to beat Joho hands down. He said his team stands a better chance to change the state of the Mombasa, unlike ODM's Joho.
The party held a procession of roadshows in Changamwe, where the Kamba community dominates, a clear sign that Omar and Awiti were intent on creating a niche in some CORD communities. Awiti didn’t mince his words, saying Mombasa had been turned into an ODM zone. He said the current administration was partying at the expense of helping the poor.
Speaking at the events, Senator Omar said Joho was a dictator who does not deserve to lead Mombasa. "If you see people have absolute unity, I can point to you an absolute dictator. Don’t mistake absolute unity for democracy. Democracy is a divergence where people have separate and distinct vision of arriving to the same goal,” he said, claiming unity in CORD would amount to dictatorship by ODM.
On Sunday, ODM bigwigs were at Kirembe grounds in Kisumu where they said CORD should strive to strengthen individual parties within it first before agreeing on the coalition’s flagbearer, an indication that the party leader Raila Odinga is reluctant to back down from the race to State House.
The rally saw Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma put on a flamboyant display akin to the pompous display by Jubilee Party during its launch. The governor had a fleet of over 20 Prado vehicles branded with ODM colours along with portraits of him, Odinga and Joho.
It was a complete contrast to the Mombasa rakky, where Musyoka drummed up support for himself, declaring that he deserves to be the coalition’s flagbearer following the sacrifices he made in the year 2002 in the Narc alliance and in 2013, when he rallied behind Odinga.
Speaking to Changamwe residents, the former vice president declared that he would stand a better chance of beating President Uhuru Kenyatta if the other two principals gave up their ambition to back his bid. “We must employ sacrifice as a strategy to defeat Jubilee. I sacrificed in 2002 for Kibaki and 2013 for Raila Odinga: it is time Raila and Wetangula did the same (for me).”
However, he dismissed concerns that the coalition was breaking apart, saying it would be ‘self-deceiving’ for either of the parties to split and expect to beat Jubilee in next year’s election which is shaping up to be hotly-contested.
Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetangula, the third of the triumvirate, meanwhile, has cut a forlorn figure in recent times as news spread that he could be dropped in favour of ANC (Amani National Congress) chairman Musalia Mudavadi, who commands a larger following than the Bungoma senator.
In August, when reports emerged of a possible union between Mudavadi and Odinga, Wetangula’s allies cried foul, terming the move as unfair and ill-timed. While the truth of the reports have yet to be fully revealed, Wetangula remains the most docile of the three principals in CORD, with his presidential bid a shadow to the ambitions of his counterparts.
Wetangula took his campaign trails to Narok County in an attempt to popularize his party to the Maasai community. While addressing a rally at Ilmasharian in Narok North, Wetangula called on Raila to stop trying to be king and become the kingmaker instead. “He (Raila) should be a king maker and he will have a special place in CORD once we win. After all, the king maker is more important than the king himself.”
These rallies were taking place following a botched retreat slated for Saturday that was aimed at identifying CORD’s flagbearer, with the reasons for the failed event directed at the two principals, Musyoka and Wetangula’s efforts at adding meat to their presidential ambitions.
Following reports that ODM could be planning to go alone in the elections, Wiper took time to condemn the utterances, with Chairman David Musila taking time to condemn what he termed as ‘chest-thumping’ in the well-attended Tononoka rally.
“We are deeply concerned about the sentiments in the past few weeks by ODM leaders that the party is ready to go it alone. The kind of chest-thumping that it is the biggest party is not acceptable. I want to tell them that Wiper has options.”
The cross purposes driven by each party in the coalition seems to point towards a division in the four-year old outfit, with the leaders adamant that they are united telling of some antagonism smoldering below the surface. With ODM hinting at going alone, it remains to be seen how CORD will hold going into the elections next year.
Kiraka is a student of journalism at the Technical University of Kenya (TUK). His interests are business, politics, sports and media criticism.