Raila, Kalonzo defy Uhuru unity bid

Raila, Kalonzo fights play out in public 

The political tension in Nasa played out yesterday when ODM leader Raila Odinga declined to speak in a meeting that was addressed by former vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka in what could undermine efforts by President Kenyatta to craft a winning coalition in 2022.

Mr Musyoka and Mr Odinga have been trading barbs this week over cash that Wiper said ODM should remit, but the former prime minister said the Orange party does not owe them any money. Mr Kenyatta has been trying to keep the coalition together to counter-check Mr Ruto.

And yesterday, Mr Odinga left his fans in Makueni County guessing when he turned down an invitation to address them at Thwake Dam where he had accompanied President Uhuru Kenyatta to inspect the progress of the Sh42 billion dam project.

A brief ceremony which preceded the actual inspection of the project, was addressed by Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, who invited Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana to address politicians drawn from the region, administrators and dozens of police officers.

Mr Musyoka told the gathering that he was surprised that Odinga was part of the President’s delegation.

“Thank you for coming. We did not expect you here but God has enabled you to come to Ukambani,” Mr Musyoka told Mr Odinga who flew in shortly after the President had landed. The former Prime Minister stood pensively beside the President and other dignitaries.

Mr Kalonzo had earlier denied reports that he had met Mr Odinga this week at the invitation of the President and said there no talks between Wiper and ODM over the 2022 elections.

“Such talks are just a creation of people out there,” Mr Musyoka said.

When Mr Musyoka attempted to pass the microphone to Prof Kibwana, the governor indicated that he was supposed to pass it over to Mr Odinga instead. Governor Kibwana welcomed Mr Odinga to speak but the former Prime minister shook his head, signalling he does not want to speak.

When the President took to the podium, he signalled Mr Odinga to speak and he declined by shaking his head. The President smiled and then gave his speech.

Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) with other political leaders during an inspection tour of Thwake Dam in Makueni on July 9, 2021./PSCU

In what was interpreted as a dig at Deputy President William Ruto’s hustlers’ ideology, the President castigated the politics of tokenism and praised Mr Odinga and Kalonzo for their support of infrastructure projects.

“When you hear Raila speaking, he is focused on infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure, he understands what is needed, Kalonzo, too. It is not just about speaking because you want to tarnish the thoughts of the youth. You must have a plan, but you cannot have a plan without thinking the needs that will in the long term help the citizens to fend for themselves. The citizens do not want to be given tokens, they should be empowered to seek for themselves and fend for themselves. That is the country that you can say has proud citizens who are happy with their country. I will not say much, today was a day of bringing development,” added the President.

Later, while touring Konza Raila spoke and invited the President to Nasa.

“I am not giving Steve (Kalonzo Musyoka) conditions. We’re talking and we’re going to talk and we’re going to be together. Your Excellency, we’re going to come together as Nasa and we also invite you, to become a member of Nasa,”  he said.

President Kenyatta has rallied the leaders in a coalition that is expected to be transformed into a super alliance ahead of the 2022 polls.

Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula and Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) leader Isaac Ruto —who has since defected to Dr Ruto’s camp — formed Nasa in 2017 on whose ticket Mr Odinga contested against President Kenyatta. Mr Musyoka, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula together with Kanu chairman Gideon Moi have since opened talks under the One Kenya Alliance (OKA).

Mr Musyoka last month said he would not support Mr Odinga’s presidential bid in next year’s elections.

“It will be unthinkable to support Mr Odinga for the third time. I will be the most stupid person to once again support his bid without a measure of reciprocity,” Mr Musyoka declared.

On Thursday, Mr Odinga confirmed the talks to find an amicable solution to the concerns raised by his partners.

Vision 2030 flagship project

“[Mr] Odinga and the parties in the Nasa coalition are in talks with a view to resolving all outstanding issues. Everything is on the table, including the matter of sharing of finances,” Mr Odinga said through his spokesperson Dennis Onyango.

In yesterday’s meeting, governor Kibwana asked the President to protect him from Mr Musyoka whose party has asked him to appear before its disciplinary committee for failing to submit monthly fees and opposing the Wiper candidate during the Kitise/Kithuki Ward by-election in Makueni County.

The President laughed at Prof Kibwana’s request and went ahead extolling Thwake Dam, a Vision 2030 flagship project.

He pledged the government’s commitment to cleaning River Athi which is heavily polluted mainly by open sewers and unscrupulous factories in Kajiado, Kiambu, Machakos and Nairobi counties.

“We shall do whatever it takes to ensure that the pollution on River Athi, which takes place upstream and ends up exposing communities downstream to polluted water, is sorted because it is the right of every Kenyan to access clean water,” President Kenyatta said when he inspected the ongoing works at the Sh 42 billion project site.

The multi-purpose embankment dam sits on 9,127 acres in Kitui and Makueni counties. It is expected to provide water for domestic use and irrigation, and inject 20 megawatts of electricity into the national grid upon its completion.

More than 60 per cent of the water that will be collected in the dam will be pumped to run Konza TechnoCity, a smart city the government is setting up at the boundary of Machakos and Makueni counties.

The dam project, which is being undertaken by China Gezhouba Group Company, is 56 per cent complete, according to Samuel Alima, the project’s lead engineer. Although the water reservoir, the main component of the dam project, is expected to be completed in November next year, Mr Alima said plans are underway to ensure it is completed five months earlier.

“Thanks to this dam, the Ukambani region will soon become one of the country’s food baskets,”  the President said. His visit to the dam comes barely a week after the Auditor-General, Nancy Gathungu, said the dam water was unfit for human consumption.

But Water Cabinet Secretary, Cicily Kariuki downplayed the report. However, she admitted that the water coming in from Nairobi River and the Athi River were polluted owing to several reasons including land degradation, informal settlements and sewage being directed to the rivers, CS Kariuki said plans were underway to ensure clean water reached the residents.

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