Former Kakamega senator Bonnie Khalwale is destined to be the major casualty under the fast changing political dynamics in Western following hints of possible coalition between Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and William Ruto ahead of 2022 general elections.
Once considered the highly-prized Hustler nation point-man in Western region, Khalwale is slowly and steadily being edged out of the team ostensibly to create room for Oparanya. Also targeted in the game-plan is Kakamega senator Cleophas Malala who is coming as a package with Oparanya to Ruto’s side. Malala has dismissed the claims. Sources briefed Weekly Citizen of developing political talks that are likely to see Oparanya ditching Raila Odinga’s ODM party to become the party leader of the People’s Democratic Party.
Oparanya will defect from ODM to PDP to bargain his political future after he fails to get ODM presidential ticket on grounds he will be rigged out. In fact a decision by ODM to advertise for those eyeing presidency on party ticket was reached after discovery, Oparanya was planning to defect. Further, to fix the governor, the party imposed in Matungu by-election David Were to be the flag-bearer knowing well he is not popular on the ground.
Oparanya is coordinating the by-election campaigns and his team in the race has already thrown in the towel arguing ANC candidate Peter Nabulindo was his favoured candidate but ODM luminaries refused to clear him. PDP leader is Omingo Magara who has openly backed Ruto’s presidential candidature. Plotters of the highly guarded scheme, according to pundits, have poisoned the mind of Oparanya beyond repair convincing him how Raila was the main person behind his dim political star.
Oparanya’s camp is concerned that despite his years as a senior ODM official, two term governor coupled with his prestigious position as the Council of Governors chairman, his influence still could not match that of ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford-Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula. According to highly placed sources, Oparanya has several times expressed frustrations within ODM despite what he terms as years of loyalty to his party boss.
On the contrary, some of his accusers portrayed Oparanya’s support to Raila’s party as lukewarm and never shown interest in ODM delivering seats in the last general elections but instead funded Jubilee candidates. Sources privy to the new arrangement told Weekly Citizen that Oparanya tabled a host of demands before working openly with Ruto and which included Khalwale being dropped from the team since he was not comfortable with the theatrics former senator.
Plans to bring Oparanya and Ruto together have been a matter of hushed tone discussions but two major events raised eyebrows among keen observes. First scenario unfolded during the burial of the late MP for Matungu Justus Murunga when Ruto ally Rashid Echesa threw a bombshell by asking Raila to accept Oparanya to hammer a deal with Ruto to run on one ticket for 2022 presidential election. It is also not lost to keen observers that such loaded message that caught Raila off-guard has resulted into a number of follow-up meetings to discuss the idea.
What raised more suspicions was a recent secret meeting hosted by Migori governor Okoth Obado at his Migori home and also attended by Oparanya and Magara. Instructively, it was during the meeting that Magara went ahead and asked Oparanya to decamp to PDP and even easily accepted to pave way for him as the new party leader. To confuse enemies, the meeting was disguised as a moment to condole with Obado who had just buried his mother. However, after the hidden details of the meeting leaked, Oparanya did not hesitate to acknowledge the existence of the meeting but was quick to deny that it had anything to do with operation on how to upstage Raila in Western region.
According to sources well-versed with the plan, it was only a matter of right political moment before the newfound relationship between Oparanya and Ruto exploded on the public arena. But well aware of the scheme to isolate him, Khalwale in attempts to test waters, openly countered Ruto with a scathing warning not to take Luhya community for granted, in reactions to the DP’s remarks that the community was taking advantage of his goodies but deny him votes.
Khalwale felt targeted by such remarks and in a furious tweet told Ruto that the Luhyas are not in his camp because of his money and food retaliating that the community was hardworking with plenty of food. It first dawned on Khalwale that he was unwanted in DP’s camp, when during the burial of former Matungu MP also attended by Ruto and other dignitaries, Echesa who is DP operative embarrassingly exposed Khalwale as a con who demanded Sh200,000 from the late MP’s widows.
Those in the know say it was Oparanya who facilitated the hard tackle which was aimed at sowing maximum discord between the controversial former senator and the DP. Coincidentally, as Khalwale frustrations mount within Ruto camp, Malala has balanced his attacks on Ruto to mild and in most occasions has made it a new normal to openly and freely associate with the DP allies. Tellingly, during a recent football tournament Malala organised in Kakamega, the main guests were Elgeyo Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Kericho counterpart Senator Aaron Cheruiot.
The two Ruto allies were forced to lead an impromptu harambee after it emerged that Malala was at pain to honour Sh1 million cash prize for the winning teams. It later emerged that out of the expected Sh1 million, only a paltry Sh100,000 was handed to the winners of the much-hyped Cleo Mala tournament much to the chagrin of players, organisers and other stakeholders who had gathered at the Mumias Sports Complex for the finals. In the event of Khalwale out and Malala in, observers’ point that Ruto will still need to deploy stringent measures in ensuring that his monetary goodies meant for the locals are accounted for.
In any case the allegations are true, then it beats logic how one would organise a tournament, announce the prize money and then turn around to shortchange the same teams that battled hard to participate. But as far as race for Kakamega gubernatorial seat is concerned, many informed voters shudder at the prospects of both Khalawale and Malala given that whereas the former is known of his reckless approach and lack of managerial skills, the later has ostensibly proved his penchant for money. It is still fresh in the minds of many how during the BBI meeting at Bukhungu, the youth from across the county were abandoned at the stadium. According to reports, this was despite the fact that the ODM leader gave Malala Sh5 million to cater for the youth.