Political realignments and schemes are taking shape in Machakos county in a bid to replace Governor Alfred Mutua who will be exiting the political scene as the first Machakos governor come 2022.
Mutua who is serving his final term has hinted on contesting the presidency as his next strategy. Already, candidates are lining up in the most crowded race expected in Ukambani. This time round, the race has attracted big political giants in the county with a number of MPs joining the fray. However, those following Machakos county politics say the race will likely narrow down to two camps.
The first camp will revolve around Kalonzo Musyoka and his Wiper party while the second will be the one fronted by the outgoing governor and his Maendeleo Chap Chap party.
Those jostling for the Wiper ticket include MPs Patrick Makau, (Mavoko)Robert Mbui, Kathiani, former assistant minister and Kathiani MP Wavinya Ndeti. The name of deputy head of service Nzioka Waita has also featured as a possible person who will fight for the ticket. Former senator Johnson Muthama is also said to be eyeing the seat. Senator Boniface Kabaka has also declared he will be shifting from his current position and try his luck in the governor’s position.
Kabaka is expected to fight for the seat through the CCU party where he is now the party leader. Sources told Weekly Citizen that the outgoing governor appears to have settled on his deputy Francis Maliti as his successor.
It is said the governor wants his political party which won the seat against a strong Wiper wave to retain the seat and maintain power as he seeks to check Wiper in the region.
It is against this backdrop that Mutua has settled on his deputy Maliti to take on the Wiper candidate in 2022. At Chap Chap camp, there is fear that an outsider will dismantle Mutua people and now the urgent need to rally behind the deputy whom they are now assured will protect their interests. The deputy, although yet to go public over his candidature, has set up a secretariat that is already working on his candidature. Maliti was picked from a team of technocrats who had served in government by Mutua in 2013 to help him kickstart devolution. Maliti who had served long in the ministry of Trade and Industrialisation at senior positions was appointed by Mutua to head
the water department in 2013 as the county executive and later picked as his running mate in 2017 when he fell out with the then deputy governor Bernard Kiala.
The water department was credited then with digging boreholes and dams for Machakos people. Apart from being the second in command, Mutua in his second term entrusted him with the crucial finance department where he is the current county executive in charge of finance and planning. The former vision 2030 director in former president Mwai Kibaki administration is considered loyal and moderate as opposed to Kiala whom Mutua accused of leaking information to his archrival Muthama who was then serving as senator.
Maliti comes from Yatta subcounty. The governor who is keen to have his party retain the seat has vowed to popularise his deputy to his supporters across the eight constituencies. He has also received endorsement from county workers who want the status quo to remain solid.
With Mutua camp having settled on Maliti, the big headache remains in Wiper where a multiple of candidates are jostling for Kalonzo’s attention. MPs Patrick Makau, Robert Mbui and Wavinya Ndeti will likely square it out in the primaries.
Wavinya who lost twice to Mutua is still optimistic that she will be handed the Wiper ticket. However, there is strong feeling amongst Wiper players that the party should try a fresh candidate to wrestle the sea from Maendeleo Chap Chap.
Those pushing for Wavinya say she has support across the county as opposed to new ones who are now doing introduction page in their political careers.
On his side, Makau has hit the ground and is busy assembling teams to propel him in his bid. The two term MP for Mavoko on a Wiper ticket is banking on his cosmopolitan constituency as a boost on his trial. Mavoko has the leading number of registered voters in the entire county and Makau hopes to use the numbers to his advantage.
The MP rose from a councillor in the defunct Mavoko municipality and later served as mayor before winning the Mavoko MP’s seat that was hived from Kathiani constituency. He is banking on the Wiper party to win the nominations.
The name of Kathiani MP Robert Mbui has also featured in the Mutua succession matrix. However, he is yet to go public on the matter unlike Makau. He is considered a loyal MP to Kalonzo and the party. Mbui is also the national organising secretary of the party, a fact that may give him a headstart in the competition.
His proximity to Kalonzo is also said to be an advantage but pundits say he has to brace himself for the combative and cunning Makau who is also eyeing the Wiper ticket. It remains unclear whether Muthama will run for the seat but he has been sending mixed signals to his supporters.
However, though, Weekly Citizen is privy to information that he is now pursuing a degree at a local university in readiness for 2022.
If he makes it to the ballot, he will present a formidable force due to his experience in politics and deep pockets. The current senator who is now at war with Governor Mutua has also declared interest for the seat.
Kabaka is demanding millions of shillings from the county after he won his case in court but the governor has refused to pay. Kabaka served as the county attorney from 2013 to 2017 where his law firm acted on behalf of the county in courts.
The two who worked closely to tame Muthama in the county have fallen out and are engaged in fierce political battle that has exploded of late. Mutua accuses Kabaka of falsifying claims to loot from the county and prepare a war chest for his 2022 ambitions.
On his side, the senator accuses Mutua of dangling with his payments as a ploy to silence him from doing his oversight role. Kabaka who comes from Mwala constituency but has a home in Masinga constituency has come out as Mutua bitter critic as 2022 game plan turns friends into foes.