Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Hon. Wamalwa will come to bad end

The intended rally headlined by Eugene Wamalwa and Maina Njenga at Kamukunji raises more questions than it answers. Hon. Wamalwa, brother to the late Michael Christopher Kijana Wamalwa and his political successor in Saboti Constituency, has over the past year laid claim to the presidency on the basis that his brother had been promised the chance to succeed Mwai Kibaki 'when the time was right'. Mr. Njenga spent years behind bars, convicted of the unlawful possession of a firearm, while also awaiting trial on charges of murder and attempted murder. He was later released after the State was unable to proceed with his prosecution. 

During his incarceration at Naivasha GK Prison, it was variously alleged that Mr. Njenga continued to helm what was authoritatively claimed to be a pan-national, quasi-religious, organised-crime organisation that had and continues to have tentacles in the transport sector, narcotics, gun and human trafficking, and that even from behind bars, he was responsible for murders that were traced back to the proscribed Mungiki sect. 

Since his release from prison once the prosecution on the capital offences ceased, Mr. Njenga was at various times linked to national politicians, including the Prime Minister (who apparently, had quietly recommended his release) and various politicians and businessmen in Central Kenya and the Rift Valley. Before the Yes campaign kicked off in earnest, Mr. Njenga shared a dais with President Moi at a 'peace rally' in the Rift Valley. He was a stalwart supporter of the Yes campaign, though it remains unknown how much money he contributed to the effort. 

His wife, who was murdered while Mr. Njenga was in prison, was buried in an ostentatious ceremony attended and officiated by religious leaders of no mean repute, including Bishop (Dr.) Margaret Wanjiru, who, coincidentally, was the one who 'counselled' him on religious matters while in prison and baptised him after he was released from prison. He demonstrated his Christian penance by leading over 3,000 ex-Mungiki youth to join the Jesus is Alive Ministries.

This long introduction is meant to demonstrate the relative strengths and weaknesses of Hon. Wamalwa and Mr. Njenga, for one is the leader and the other the acolyte. All that Hon. Wamalwa has going for him is a political lineage that is inherited from his more charismatic late brother. He has no famous (or infamous) Bills to his name in Parliament. He is not associated with a national movement or programme to address some specific national issue. His only claim to the presidency is that his brother would have been Kibaki's natural successor had he not died prematurely. Hon. Wamalwa, unlike his late brother, is a lightweight political actor without a credible political, economic or professional constituency to his name. 

Mr. Njenga on the other hand, despite his incarceration in prison for five years, still allegedly controls one of the most effective organisations in the country. It is capable of mobilising youth in the tens of thousands. It is capable of organising them into either an unruly mob or a disciplined crowd. It is capable of generating staggering amounts of cash and it is more than capable of laundering it in imaginative ways. He commands, if not the respect, the acknowledgment of other players on the national political scene. Mr. Njenga is a heavyweight capable of engaging in political action at the national level with other national politicians as an equal.

The Kamukunji rally, according to the ads placed in the Star, convey the impression that it is the 'youth' who are being encouraged to take a more active role in political activity in Kenya, and that Mr. Njenga believes that Hon. Wamalwa is best-placed to lead the way. It is clear that Mr. Njenga is the one calling the shots. Only he can mobilise the thousands who will attend the rally, perhaps, even, tens of thousands. Only he can command them to remain peaceful. And only he will determine whether or not they accept Hon. Wamalwa as their standard-bearer.

Comparisons with the Mwai Kibaki-Kijana Wamalwa union of 2002 miss a crucial point. When it was formed in mid-2002, the alliance was a political recognition that disunity in the top ranks of the Opposition had gifted President Moi electoral victories in 1992 and 1997, despite KANU's share of the total vote declining with each multi-party election. Mr. Njenga's and Hon. Wamalwa's alliance is a tribal alliance that is taking a cynical approach to political gamesmanship. Hon. Wamalwa stands to lose regardless of the outcome of the alliance; Mr. Njenga can only gain, especially from the legitimacy conferred by association with the novice politician, with limited political and professional qualifications (and successes) who is seen as a no-hopper come the 2012 presidential contest. Is this the reason why Hon. Wamalwa will come to a bad end?

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