Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Saturday, 08 Oct 2016 16:07 EAT
Mwingi Central MP Joel Mutambu of the Wiper Democratic Movement has beat a hasty retreat on his recent defection to the Jubilee Party. The MP, who announced his defection on live television during the ostentatious launch of the Jubilee Party at Kasarani Stadium last month, said at a television talk show this Tuesday that he had been ambushed by the announcement of his defection at the Jubilee launch.
The MP said at the K-24 talk show that on the day it was reported he had defected, he had only gone to Kasarani Stadium "to see what was happening". He claimed that he was still a member of Wiper Party on whose ticket he was elected in 2013, and that he had no intentions to defect to Jubilee.
Mr Mutambu, however, said that like any Kenyan he had the right to associate freely with any people or parties of his choice. He would continue to associate with Jubilee leaders as he wished, but his political party remains the Wiper Democratic Movement.
The MP's turnaround comes amid increased agitation by residents of the Ukambani region demanding that Wiper MPs who defected to Jubilee should relinquish their seats or be ejected by the party in accordance with legal requirements that defecting MPs seek fresh electoral mandate.
Last week, irate voters in Mwingi Central burnt Mr Mutambu's effigy, accusing him of betraying them and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka. Protests were held also in Mbooni, whose local MP Michael Munyao Kisoi also announced his defection to Jubilee during the party's launch. Smaller protests have been reported elsewhere in the region, but it was the demo in Mwingi Central that caught national attention, with a report on it by Citizen TV on September 22.
Mr Musyoka, the Wiper Party leader and his allies have piled pressure on the defectors by demanding that they resign from Parliament. At a rally in Kitengela Town yesterday, Mr Musyoka said the defectors had been "bought" by Jubilee against the wishes of their electorate.
The defectors have also faced hostile reception in their constituencies, with voters demanding that they seek fresh mandates on their new party. Demonstrations in Mwingi Central against Mr Mutambu's defection have fed perceptions that Mr Mutambu wouldn't win re-election at the next elections, leading to a number of aspirants declaring their interest in the seat.
So far, the seat has attracted the interest of strong aspirants, including former Law Society of Kenya president Eric Mutua and former Public Works PS Gideon Mulyungi. The two have emerged as the leading contenders, with the former LSK president said to enjoy the backing of Kitui Senator David Musila who is also the Wiper chairman, while Mulyungi has Wiper leader Musyoka’s blessings. Mulyungi has been traversing the constituency, urging voters to elect him. But Mutua said he is not interested in early campaigns.
At the K-24 interview, Mr Mutambu dared the party's leaders, who have initiated a process to discipline defectors from its ranks who announced their switch of allegiance to Jubilee, to make good their threats to call for by- elections. In a new angle to the evolving controversy, Mr Mutambu claimed that there had been many more members of the Wiper Party at the Jubilee launch than the MPs who have been threatened with disciplinary action.
“If they want to discipline people let them discipline every single Wiper affiliated leader who showed up at the Jubilee Party launch but not singling out members of the parliament,” he said. He was, however, ridiculed by Kibra MP Ken Okoth who also participated in the show telling him he is on the field with "a Wiper jersey playing for Jubilee," he should return the Wiper Jersey and get a Jubilee party shirt.