A silent revolt is brewing in Taita-Taveta County after the Kamba Council of Elders endorsed a Democratic Alliance Party-Kenya (DAP-K) gubernatorial candidate barely a week after Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka toured the region and asked the community to vote for a Wiper Candidate.
A week ago, former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka toured the region accompanied by former Senator Dan Mwazo who is flying the Wiper gubernatorial flag in the region.
In his tours, Kalonzo engaged the members of the populous Kamba community and asked them to vote for Wiper candidates who would strengthen the party networks in the region.
However, in what appears to be open defiance to Kalonzo, the community on Thursday endorsed Mr. George Mwadembo vying for the governor’s post under the DAP-K party.
The endorsement event was held at Nakuruto village in Taveta sub-County on Thursday and attended by dozens of representatives of the Kamba community from the four sub-counties of Voi, Mwatate, Wundanyi and Taveta.
Mr. Japheth Mutungi, the representative of the community, said they had decided to support the DAP-K candidate because he had engaged them directly and took time to address their concerns as a community.
He added that Mr. Mwadembo had reached out to the community in his individual capacity several times in the past making him the most suitable candidate.
“We have decided that as a community living in this county, we will chart our own path and make an independent decision on whom we want to vote for as governor. We will not be influenced by anyone,” he said.
He added that the Wiper gubernatorial candidate was a ‘stranger’ to them who had not bothered to engage the community and understand their wishes. He pointed out that despite having started his campaigns early, Dan Mwazo kept away from engaging the community and was waiting for endorsement from the Wiper leader.
“The candidate never came to engage us. He was brought to us, but we do not know him. We have decided to back the candidate who best represents our interests,” said the elder.
The elder however said that they would support Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga to the last man adding that he was the best suited to lead the country.
The move to embrace a DAP-K candidate even after Kalonzo’s entreaties to the second-largest community in Taita-Taveta County points to a disconnect between the party leaders and the voters in the region. The community has complained of being sidelined in governance after voting in 2017.
Mutungi explained that a few weeks before the 2017 general election, Kalonzo Musyoka went around the county with the current Taita-Taveta Governor Granton Samboja who was vying under the Wiper ticket. Kalonzo asked the locals to vote for Samboja assuring them they will form part of the government.
After overwhelmingly voting for the Wiper Candidate, the community says it did not benefit and instead was pushed to the periphery with the only substantial appointment being a member of County Public Service Board.
“We respect the Wiper leader as an elder. We voted for the governor he told us to do who sidelined us. This time, we have decided to chart our own path on the governor’s post. For president, we are fully behind Kalonzo,” said the elder.
The meeting was also attended by representatives from Maasai, Kisii and Taita community who had come to witness the endorsement.
There are plans to host a major endorsement rally next month where members of the community will formally crown the DAP-K candidate as their preferred aspirant. The rally will also bring on board other communities that are supporting Mwadembo.
Speaking after the event, Mwadembo termed it as an honor to be picked by the elders as their candidate and promised to work closely with them. He added that he has been keeping in touch with the community and has engaged them in several areas as part of his duties as a leader.
“We have engaged for a long time and before I started my campaigns, I came to ask for their blessings. I have promised proper inclusion of all communities in this county to make them all feel they belong,” said Mwadembo.