Kenya politics of corruption: Old guard gearing up to return to the political arena
Posted by African Press International on August 14, 2016
JUSTUS WANGA -1 | Jumapili, Agosti 14, 2016
The country is about to witness a significant return of political “dinosaurs”.
These are individuals who dominated the public arena for a period of 20 years or more and are now going for lucrative county jobs.
It is a rich list comprising former Tinderet MP and ODM chairman Henry Kosgey, former ministers Noah Wekesa, Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Ramadhan Kajembe and one time powerful Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia among others.
While there is no guarantee they will all be elected, the very fact that they will be running is causing most youthful contenders sleepless nights owing to their bigger war chests.
Dr Wekesa, 80, who was trounced in the 2013 polls by Mr Patrick Khaemba in the Trans Nzoia governor’s seat race, says he still has a lot to offer the county claiming the incumbent has failed to impress.
He acknowledges that his advancing age will be a campaign factor.
His opponents say he has had his day and it is high time he gave younger politicians a chance.
“They used it (age) last time against me. If, indeed, age affects one’s ability to lead, how come President Kenyatta saw it as an asset when he appointed me to co-chair the merger of parties affiliated to Jubilee alliance? It is immaterial. A lot of money has been stolen in Trans Nzoia, has age got to do with it?” he posed.
Dr Wekesa and Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi chaired a committee that midwifed the merging of the political parties into one Jubilee party unveiled by Mr Kenyatta at State House on Tuesday.
Mr Murungi also wants to unseat Meru Governor Peter Munya. The former Kwanza MP said he has a lot in store for the people.
“I have a record of being meticulous with government funding. Our county needs a manager, it is one of the richest but if you visit, you would think it is the poorest,” he said.
REPRESENT PEOPLE OF MOMBASA
Mr Kajembe, recently appointed Kenya Ferry Services chairman by President Kenyatta, said he will be trying for yet another time to represent the people of Mombasa in the Senate.
“For now let me focus on Kenya Ferry Services but at the end of the year, I will be launching my senate bid,” he said.
Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, who has his eyes trained on the governor’s seat, defeated him on a Wiper party ticket in 2013. He belonged to ODM then but his loyalty is now with the ruling coalition, Jubilee.
And with other long-serving politicians most of whom are currently in the Senate like James Orengo (Siaya), Chris Obure (Kisii), Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), David Musila (Kitui) and former Lands Minister Charity Ngilu angling for the same position, the next Council of Governors could possibly be dominated by former ministers in the Moi and Kibaki administrations.
Dr Mutakha Kangu, the chairman of the Task Force on Devolved Government, sees their interest on county seats as a sign of realisation of the power balance brought about by the devolved system.
“Does this suggest a failed youth leadership so that people would be running back to the old guard? It is a question the outcome of next polls will answer,” he said.
Mr Mwakwere has expressed interest in the Kwale governor’s seat and Mr Kosgey is interested in the same seat in Nandi County.
A majority appear keen to root out most of those elected as governors in the last polls with the immense resources in counties under devolved structures being cited as the main attraction.
Some like Mr Musila served as Provincial Commissioner under President Daniel Moi in the late 80s while others were towering figures in the Kibaki regime but it appears, they are not calling it quits any time soon.
Mr Franklin Bett, other than being State House Comptroller in the Moi era, also served as Roads minister in the grand coalition government. He is torn between the senate and governor’s seat in Kericho.
He unsuccessfully sought the Jubilee party’s ticket in March ahead of a senatorial by-election following the elevation of Mr Charles Keter to the cabinet.
The former Tinderet lawmaker was among those punished by voters for not reading the public mood appropriately.
They now seem to have aligned themselves ready to go for the kill.
Mr Kosgey, who stuck with Cord leader Raila Odinga at a time Deputy President William Ruto led a revolt in the Rift Valley that saw them join forces with Mr Kenyatta to form the Jubilee alliance, has since “seen the light” and will be seeking a Jubilee ticket.
He declined to comment about his renewed ambition.
CONTEND WITH YOUNGER POLITICIANS
He will, however, have to contend with younger politicians around the DP who are reportedly not comfortable with his resurgence.
They fear he may either upstage or regain his former clout in the regional politics to the point of creating another centre of power around him, in the process eroding the DP’s influence.
An alliance of Mr Kosgey, were fears of Mr Ruto’s ally to come true and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto who has a jerky relationship with the DP, would upset the power balance in the Rift Valley region.
He will, therefore, have to work extra hard to convince those in Jubilee, especially the younger ones, that he comes in peace.
Dr Kangu says that while the old politicians allied to Jubilee have every right to run for the various seats, their tickets will put President Kenyatta and his deputy on the spot, having ridden on a youth platform to State House.
“Has Uhuru and Ruto abandoned their cry that they stand for youth to bring back the older politicians? It is something that must disturb their conscience even as this happens,” he said.
The former Industrialisation minister had been dragged to the International Criminal Court alongside President Kenyatta, his deputy and three others on accusations that they had a hand in the post-election violence that rocked the country after the disputed presidential election result in 2007. The charges were later dropped.
Most of the old guard are downplaying the possibility that their opponents could succeed in unleashing the age-card.
Some of them may be motivated by a genuine drive to make things right arising from wanton looting going on in some of the counties.
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