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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Is Mukhisa Kituyi About To Defect To ODM?

What would you think if you were told that a certain politicians’ allies (virtually the whole lot) have already defected to a certain party but that the senior politician in question (no less than a cabinet minister) in fact seems to be hesitant and undecided.

Seasoned analysts would tell you that it is only a matter of time before that politician joins his allies at the said political party.

Dr Mukisa Kituyi and his wife Ling Kituyi.

Trade and Industry Minister Mukhisa Kituyi who is also the member of parliament for Kimilili constituency in Bungoma district has watched as his close allies have all trooped into ODM. Meanwhile Kituyi (who was just the other day, the powerful chairman of Narc Kenya, defected to Soita Shitanda’s New Ford Kenya. Could this be a strategic move and a stepping stone to joining ODM? For weeks there have been whispers in the expansive Bukusuland that Hon Shitanda was headed for ODM with his entire splinter political party. But so far they have remained just rumours.

If this is true then it will complete an astounding and fascinating comedy of errors, Kenya style that has seen a leading politician dance his way round political parties right from President Kibaki’s government and sponsored Narc Kenya right into the heart of the opposition, joining former colleagues in the cabinet, John Koech and Charity Ngilu.

If this defection takes place, it will also be the biggest catch yet for ODM.

A close analysis of Bukusu politics on the ground in recent weeks clearly points to Hon Kituyi ending up in ODM. The Bukusu are one of the largest Luhya sub-tribes and boast of over 300,000 votes. Since the death of the community’s own former Ford Kenya chairman and immediate former Vice President of Kenya, Wamalwa Kijana, no politician has held complete sway over the Bukusu. This has been the reason behind the various controversies that saw the formation of a splinter New Ford Kenya party chaired by Housing Minister Soita Shitanda. But what is really fascinating is how this Luhya sub-tribe has so quickly rallied behind Raila Odinga’s presidential bid and ODM.

Other presidential candidates who have gone to the area to campaign in recent months like Kalonzo Musyoka and even President Kibaki have been met with chants of ODM or placards with the name of the party written boldly and clearly from a people who are clearly not prepared to listen from any other script.

Some political analysts say that one of the reasons why the Bukusu have been so totally seduced into ODM has been due to the strategy the party has used of cashing in on the infamous Elijah Masinde prophecy. The founder of Dini Ya Musambwa which was a thorn in the flesh of the colonial government issued a prophesy in the 60s that the leadership of the country would come to the Bukusu through Nyanza. This prophecy has been modified by ODM supporters and the word “Bukusu” has been convineintly replaced with the word “Luhya.” This is so as to accommodate Musalia Mudavadi, who is Raila’s running mate into the scheme of things.

Still there are those who point to the fact that the Bukusu have consistently voted for the opposition anyway and have in fact been anti-establishment since the colonial days.

But if truth be told, this reaction of the Bukusu has taken everybody, including the community itself by surprise. PNU strategists were heavily counting on the Bukusu to rally strongly behind President Kibaki’s re-election bid and it was not lost on observers that the president made two trips to Western Kenya is a very short space of time, apparently to consolidate his support there. It was not to be and as you read this, even die hard supporters of Ford Kenya’s Musikari Kombo are fidgeting and feeling very much out of place supporting PNU when everybody else in the district is solidly behind ODM.

Mukhisa Kituyi is a smart politician and above everything else, he wants to make into the 10th parliament. So chances are that he will choose the strongest and most effective “vehicle” to get him there. In Bungoma district there is no argument as to which vehicle that is. It is ODM.

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