June 28th 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Wambora, Kivuti accused of polarising voters in tough Embu governor's contest

Mr Musyimi takes a different view, saying that national government representatives, the local provincial administration, the National Land Commission, and Lands cabinet secretary Jacob Kaimenyi had joined Mr Wambora and Kivuti in dispossessing some landowners.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 20 Dec 2016 16:46 EAT

Governor Wambora with Senator Lenny Kivuti. (Photo: Courtesy/The Star).

Campaigning for the Embu County gubernatorial position has turned messy following a developing controversy over plans to evict some settlers from the Mwea Settlement Scheme. The Scheme has a multi-ethnic community comprising of people from the Embu, Tharaka, Mbeere and Kamba communities. However, Governor Martin Wambora and Senator Lenny Kivuti say that recent settlers have been living illegally in the scheme and should be evicted.

The governor and senator are locked in a yet-unpredictable four-way contest for the gubernatorial seat, with Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire and management consultant Kithinji Kiragu being the other challengers. Ms Mbarire and Mr Kiragu oppose the suggestion to have some settlers removed from the scheme, saying Mr Wambora and Mr Kivuti are trying to polarise voters along ethnic lines in order to win the votes of the majority Embu and Mbeere tribes.

As the matter has become emotive, it is emerging as the central issue of the 2017 elections in Embu County seats. Jubilee Party officials are deeply divided over the matter, with local leaders taking the sides either with Wambora and Kivuti or choosing to run against the grain with the two main communities. Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has been enjoined in the emerging tensions when he recently received politicians from Jubilee Party who defected in part due to the divisiveness of local party leaders.

As he received the defectors, Mr Musyoka urged the local authorities not to evict the settlers when he received over 200 Jubilee Party members who joined his Wiper Democratic Movement protesting the skewed way the scheme was being allocated. Mbeere South MP Mutava Musyimi has also launched a campaign against Wambora and Kivuti for allegedly messing up the land distribution of the scheme.

Speaking to thousands of squatters at Gikuru Shopping Center, Mr Musyimi said the problem that has led to distribution of the land into 7,232 parcels mostly to outsiders was being used by some politicians politically, hence the need for a political solution to it. “The problem we are facing in Mwea is political. Governor Wambora and Senator Kivuti are driving a negative message, and they have to be told to stop it so the problem can be addressed politically,” the MP said.

Mr Musyimi, who campaigned for Mr Wambora in 2013, said he regrets his contribution to the governor's election. He said that Wambora, Kivuti and other local politicians have over the years messed up with the land issue by bringing in politics, saying that only Ms Mbarire and Mr Kiragu can provide the dispassionate leadership required to address the challenges.

During the recent Jamhuri Day events, Mr Wambora and Mr Kivuti were emphatic that the process in which the land was distributed was overboard, and they accused squatters who were left out of staging the recent protests. Mr Musyimi takes a different view, saying that national government representatives, the local provincial administration, the National Land Commission, and Lands cabinet secretary Jacob Kaimenyi had joined Mr Wambora and Kivuti in dispossessing some landowners.

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