Saturday, March 20, 2010


Prime Minister Raila Odinga continued his weekend charm offensive tours, this time visiting the home turf of his political nemesis, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka.

And as would be expected, local leaders turned the tour into a forum to talk succession politics.

Speakers said Raila was the best bet for the presidency come 2012, and revisited the 2007 bungled presidential election between Raila and President Kibaki, and whose end result was unprecedented bloodshed.

The leaders claimed Raila was robbed of the presidency in the heavily contested election, whose outcome even then Electoral Commission Chairman Samuel Kivuitu claimed not to know.

In what seems to be his strategy, Raila has been visiting several regions where he meets local leaders.

Among areas he has visited is Western, Nyanza and Central Provinces.

On Saturday, the PM will be heading to Meru where he would be hosted by Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara. He also plans to visit the North Rift, the hometown of his political ally-turned-critic William Ruto.

Whereas the tours have been mostly political, Raila has also taken the advantage to inspect Government works to project himself as a development conscious leader.

On Friday, it was Water Minister Charity Ngilu, a firm Raila ally and the only woman in the ODM Pentagon, who set the political tempo when she said Raila was a tested leader and Ukambani should read the mood of the rest of the country come 2012.

"If it was not for Raila, Ukambani could not be having the ministerial position that I hold. We as a community are grateful to Raila and we will certainly throw our weight behind him," said Ngilu.

Raila received a heroic welcome as his convoy snaked the streets of Machakos town, the political headquarters of Ukambani.

Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo and his Nyando counterpart Fred Outa said the writing was on the wall and Raila’s march to State House was unstoppable.

Business in Machakos town came to a standstill as the entourage made a lap of honour before descending at the historic Mulu Mutisya Grounds for a mammoth rally.

Accompanying Raila was Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, Cabinet ministers Joseph Nyagah, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, Assistant Minister Wavinya Ndeti and Elizabeth Masha.

Others were MPs Charles Kilonzo, Victor Munyaka and former MPs Daudi Mwanzia, Agnes Ndetei, Kalembe Ndile, Francis Nyenze, Alphonce Musyoki and Grace Mwewa.

The public booed Munyaka, the Machakos town MP, out of the dais when he started highlighting the achievements of his party ODM-Kenya and leader Kalonzo.

Ngilu said Raila’s tour of Ukambani was historic and a pointer of good things to come.

She said the PM was a reliable politician who did not practice politics of ethnicity and was a firm crusader against corruption.

"The PM has stood firm against all corruption networks and has not been intimidated by them. He is a fighter and deserves a higher calling come 2012," said Ngilu.

In what was seen as a stab against her Cabinet colleague Kalonzo, and a continuation of supremacy wars in the region, Ngilu urged the community to rally behind Raila as some of the regions leaders eyeing the top seat were "unreliable".

Nyagah said Eastern Province was now embracing politics of change, and urged Kenyans to support the enactment of a new a constitution.

Kalonzo and Ngilu have in the past decade fought for political supremacy in Ukambani, and have for several times unsuccessfully buried the hatchet. Ngilu braved the ODM-Kenya wave in 2007 despite massive odds and managed to retain her Kitui Central seat on a Narc ticket.

Raila told the mammoth crowd at Mulu Mutisya Grounds that the country would get a new constitution.

He said together with President Kibaki, they would meet MPs to seal a final deal on the constitution that has been elusive for two decades.

"Kenyans will get the constitution they want. MPs must rise above personal, party and political interests and give us a document that will enhance good governance," said Raila.

He added that the realisation of a new constitution would help correct many historical injustices.

The PM added that the noise Kenyans were hearing among the political leaders was the process of enacting a new constitution.

Raila said he was committed to reforming Government institutions as the country’s mood was that of reforms.

The PM asked Kenyans to be in the forefront fighting corruption and tribalism.

He said the Government would punish individuals who had stolen funds of shareholders of the controversial Malili Ranch.

Earlier, Raila addressed impromptu rallies of enthusiastic crowds at Mlolongo, Athi River and Chumvi towns.

Raila officially opened the Machakos Turn off–Masii Road, a project he said he initiated when he was the Roads minister.

Ndeti said the era when Ukambani was led by unfocused leaders should become a thing of the past.

She said residents of Athi River and Mlolongo towns had suffered much owing to lack of title deeds for their parcels of land.

Raila assured Ndeti that Lands Minister James Orengo would address the issue.

The PM added that the Government would also address the issue of pollution in Athi River town.

Ndile received a standing ovation when he said he had decided to work with Raila after he was used and dumped by his friends in PNU in the last elections.

"I worked hard for them but I was given a donkey kick. I now will work with Raila for the good of the Kamba community," said Ndile.


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