Internal differences within the Wiper Party on how to contain simmering political rebellion by three Ukambani governors has forced its leader Kalonzo Musyoka to convene a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.
Mr Musyoka’s party is split between two camps, with one hardliner group pushing for expulsion of party national chairman Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana while the other, consisting of moderate MPs, calling for dialogue and reconciliation.
The hardliners, who include former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua and Mwingi Central MP Gideon Mulyungi, want Prof Kibwana forced out and have even publicly dared the governor to seek fresh mandate using another political party.
On the other hand, the moderates who include MPs Makali Mulu (Kitui Central), Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi east), Charles Nguna (Mwingi west) and Dr Irene Kasalu (Women rep Kitui) among others have called for dialogue, saying the party should listen to Governor Kibwana and his colleagues.
This split informed a decision to lock out the media from Tuesday’s meeting which the former vice president convened at his Yatta farm in Machakos County.
On Monday evening, one of Mr Musyoka’s aides placed calls to several journalists in the region asking them individually to stay away from the party meeting to allow MPs and MCAs to deliberate their issues privately.
The meeting — a belated New Year goat-eating party bringing together Wiper MPs and MCAs — is expected to discuss how to deal with their party chairman who was not invited to the meeting.
It is not clear which camp will carry the day but sources indicated that Mr Musyoka favours the moderates and has tasked some elders to mediate their differences.
Prof Kibwana told the Nation that he was shocked and saddened by the extend of abuses hurled against him by some party MPs in public for speaking up his mind.
“I’ll not attend that meeting because I wasn’t invited, but if Wiper leadership thinks they can intimidate us into supporting a certain political narrative, they are deeply mistaken because Kenya has changed and grown in democracy terms,” he said.
The rebellion by governors, the handshake deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga and the upcoming Embakasi South by-election have all stirred Mr Musyoka to action.
Tuesday’s meeting will also discuss political wrangling between governors in Ukambani region and their respective county assemblies, widely blamed on Wiper which commands a majority of the ward representatives.
Mr Kibwana and his colleagues Dr Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui) have caused panic within Wiper ranks with their plans to rally the community towards a different political direction.
The Governors addressed several public meetings two weeks ago where they said the Kamba community doesn’t stand a chance of winning the presidency through Mr Musyoka because his three consecutive bids have been unsuccessful.
Dr Mutua’s party, Maendeleo Chap Chap, has nominated Mr Alexander Mutisya Mulatya to run for the Embakasi South seat against Wiper’s Julius Mawathe.
The party fronted Mr Mulatya, a former member of Nairobi County Assembly for Mukuru Kwa Njenga ward, to split Mr Mawathe’s support base and halt his bid to retain the seat.
With Orange Democratic Movement, Wiper’s partner in the National Super Alliance (Nasa), having declared that it will nominate a candidate for the seat, party insiders are worried about splitting the populous Kamba vote in Embakasi South during the April 4 mini poll.
Mr Mulatya rejects the notion that his candidacy will spoil chances for the Wiper, saying every candidate has an equal right under the law.
“If my candidacy is spoiling for somebody that person is also spoiling for me. We are in this race to win,” Mr Mulatya said in a telephone interview.
On his part, Mr Mawathe whose victory was nullified by the Supreme Court, says he’s aware of the possible threat posed by such candidates but said he wasn’t worried about losing the election.