BY BEN KARUGA
Let us start by referring to the good book the Bible. John 8:7, “But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
This is the challenge I pose to every politician in this country and to the electorate who vote based on monies distributed and Harambee contributions and not on sound quality leadership.
Fred Chesebe Kapondi, former Mt. Elgon MP, made history for winning the 2007 elections without campaigning and being voted in while behind bars. The will of the people of Mt. Elgon was respected and their man went ahead to Chair the Parliamentary Security and defense committee. (Welcome to Kenya).
In the March 4th 2013 General Elections, Hon.Moses Masika Wetangula trounced Hon. Musikari Kombo and Hon. Mukhisa Kituyi. This was a battle of the Titans. A battle of siblings’ rivalry to determine who is first among equals. The three were considered brothers and political orphans of the Late. Vice President Kijana Wamalwa.
After Wamalwa snr. demise, Wetangula threw his lot behind Kombo in the Chairmanship battle of Ford Kenya in which Kombo trounced Mukhisa. By 2007 Wetangula was on the sideline watching bemusedly as Kombo and Mukhisa cannibalized each other leading to both losing their respective parliamentary seats.
Even with Kombo nomination to Parliament, it was common knowledge who had emerged supreme in this triumvirate battle which Wetangula was involved in but with kid gloves. In the 17 member cabinet formed by Kibaki and Kalonzo after the 2017 elections, he was appointed to the powerful position of Minister Foreign Affairs, a position he retained even with the formation of the coalition government.
By 2013 General elections, it was all system go for this man Wetangula, only this time kids gloves had been discarded and it was all bare knuckles. The battlefront was the Bungoma senatorial elections. Mukhisa was no longer the main threat to Kombos supremacy but it was Wetangula and as proved by the election results, he emerged Victorious.
The Bungoma High Court nullified his election on 30 September 2013 and the Speaker of the Senate declared the seat vacant on 16 October 2013. In a by-election held on 19 December 2013, Moses Wetangula recaptured his Bungoma senatorial seat with a landslide win after garnering 149,458 votes against his main contender Musikari Kombo, who got about a half of the votes.
This time, the people of Bungoma had spoken resoundingly and clearly than even in the March 2013 general elections.
It is not my place to determine whether Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission(IEBC) has credibility issues or not.
But with Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro having gazetted court findings that Senator Wetangula bribed voters,opening the way for the (IEBC) to deregister him as a voter, effectively knocking him out of elective politics in 2017, am sure the IEBC was not looking forward to such prospects baring Wetangulas political standing both as Senate minority leader and Cord co-principal.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court appeal that had barred the senator from contesting in the 2017 general elections but accordingly instructed that a report on commission of election offences be forwarded to the IEBC, senate speaker and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) office.
The IEBC is thus required by law to consider whether to deregister Senator Wetangula. A difficult position this IEBC has been placed. One area the senator and his supporters are having hope on, is the fact that the supreme court report was forwarded to the DPP office and therefore one area the IEBC should rely on in their “shall consider” murky business is the DPP report on the bribery allegations.
The legal issues and procedures in this particular case aside, those who have had an opportunity to go through the litany of offences and their attendant punishments in “The Elections Offences Act, Chapter 66” will dare not point an accusing finger on senator Wetangula.
All those in the political class have committed one and mostly more of the offences therein from the enumerated corrupt practices like personation, undue influence and bribery to illegal practices like certain expenditures and propaganda.
Maybe senator Wetangula hand was caught in the jar, maybe not, the DPP office might be in a better position to expound on that but the realities of the Kenyan situation during electioneering period does not warrant someone being locked out through a legal process where the political stakes are this high and the beneficiary of this single act are strewn all over the political landscape called Kenya.
To begin with, could Kombo have finally found the most effective way to fix his brother and now political nemesis once and for all? This time not through an open political contest where Wetangula has outsmarted him twice recently but through a legal process? Whether by his design or not, Kombo is definitely a sure beneficiary of Wetangula deregistration. Whether this can transform to votes come 2017 is another matter altogether.
Secondly we have the Jubilee mandarins who see Wetangula as the stumbling block to their penetration to vote rich Bungoma county and the Luhya nation at large. Might they be hoping that locking out Wetangula will give them an easy ride to the land of “mulembe”? This might actually backfire on them as it is definitely creating resentment on the ground and our son is under siege mentality among the Luhyas just going by the demonstration witnessed in Bungoma town last week. Pray me that Jubilees hand is nowhere near this. In any case, they should try save their brother. Their relationship with Wetangula under Kibaki second regime was healthy for the one half of the Jubilee coalition.
Lastly could some in Cord leadership and membership be shedding crocodile tears? 1st there is the issue of Cord 2017 flagbearer, could Wetangula be posing a serious threat to Cord suprema Raila Odinga? This is highly in doubt, for as long as Raila offers his candidature for Presidency. But when it comes to the question of running mate, Wetangula is definitely causing some headaches in some quarters. When it comes to numbers, for as long Wetangula can consolidate the “mulembe” vote, here Kalonzos No. 2 position will definitely be his to take if no shenanigans are at play.
Still with Cord, Wetangula exit will be of direct benefit to the ODM secretary General. The eloquent and ambitious (without ambition you have no business in politics) Ababu Namwamba. It is argued that the “mole” rumors and allegations are meant to tame the youthful politician from eclipsing co-principal Wetangula in Cord politics. Then again, who knows, politics is all about perception.
One thing that is clearly developing is that the Wetangula bribery issue is making people start to develop parallels with Uhuru-Ruto ICC case. What with the planned Wetangula Prayer meetings, demonstrations by Wetangula supporters with or without his knowledge and consent.
More importantly parallels are being developed between the Wetangulas case and Uhuru-Ruto eligibility case in the High court of Kenya prior to 2013 elections. The court ruled that they had no jurisdiction as the IEBC is the one mandated to review and clear the eligibility of people seeking elective positions.The Judgement was hailed by politicians from opposing camps as being politically correct as it ensured no disenfranchisement of the voters.
This ruling ensured that the fate of Uhuru-Ruto politically was dependent on the people of Kenya. Come 4thMarch 2013, the people of Kenya and not the courts spoke. To IEBC, let the people of Bungoma County speak come 2017 and if Wetangula is nominated as a Presidential candidate to any political party or coalition of parties, let the people of Kenya once again speak. It is their place.
I can imagine a situation where God forbid, Wetangula transits to the next world and all politicians regardless of political divide will descent to Bungoma in their choppers eulogizing how Bungoma and the Nation has lost such a leader never to be replaced. Spare us the theatrics, let Wetangula be, for as long there is breath in him and he is willing to offer himself, his fate lies with the people of Bungoma and the Nation to determine.
Ben Karuga Is Consultant On Governance Issues