The Luhya community is once again heading into a General Election without a clear sense of direction and purpose despite unending calls by local leaders to forge a united front in the upcoming political contest.
Since the demise of Michael Wamalwa Kijana in 2002, the Mulembe nation has been struggling to get the right leadership to fit in the shoes.
While other regions have de facto leaders who have generally been accepted by the people and given the power to speak and represent them at the national level, the Luhya nation is still lagging behind.
With more than three potential presidential hopefuls, the vote-rich region is, without doubt, heading into the 2022 General Election more divided than ever.
Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has announced his bid and is traversing the country to seek the support of other communities.
FORD Kenya boss and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula has also hinted at contesting for the top seat in 2022 and has been trying to put his house in order.
Former United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi has also declared his bid.
Another presidential aspirant from the Western region is Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is seeking the ODM party ticket, a Raila Odinga-led outfit.
Wetang’ula and Mudavadi have been working together through the One Kenya Alliance, alongside Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Gideon Moi (KANU).
However, Wetang’ula has lately been linked to a cooperation deal with Deputy President William Ruto, a development his close allies have not shied away from.
On Saturday, June 4, a newly Elected Kabuchai MP Majimbo Kalasinga (FORD Kenya) took the greetings of the second in command to his constituents in a very uncharacteristic manner.
n his speech, the charming and charismatic youthful lawmaker told the residents of Chwele market that he had been sent by his party to pass the greetings of Wetang’ula, Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka and Ruto.
Lusaka is deemed a close ally of the DP and is working to reclaim the Bungoma gubernatorial seat in 2022.
In 2013, and in the run-up to the 2017 General Election, the Senate Speaker and the Bungoma senator were arch-rivals and could not see each other eye to eye. Today, the two have mended walls are often seen together in funerals and other public functions.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, an ally of Ruto, has also been traversing parts of Bungoma County in the company of Wetang’ula and Lusaka.
Other allies of the DP who have started coalescing around Wetang’ula include Sirisia MP John Waluke and Webuye West’s Dan Wanyama.
On the other hand, Oparanya is considered Raila’s point man in Western politics; political analysts argue that his bid to vie for the presidency using ODM is a mere passing cloud.
“Governor Oparanya stands no chance of beating Raila Odinga whichever formula one may want to use, and he knows that. He is just bargaining for something bigger in the party and the best way to do that is to scale up his ambitions to reach those of his leader, but at the same time remaining careful not to break ranks,” argued Herman Manyora, a lecturer and political analyst.
Similarly, Kituyi, who joined the race recently, has been coalescing around Raila’s camp and has severally held talks with the former premier regarding 2022 politics.
Although he was seen as a man who could provide alternative leadership, the former Kimilili MP’s presidential bid has failed to blossom and is suddenly crumbling into pieces and doses of embarrassment.
COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli is another political heavyweight from the Luyha nation vouching for a Raila presidency, alongside Edwin Sifuna, the firebrand ODM secretary-general.
Mudavadi is likely to be left alone. He appears to have stood his ground and is ready to face off with other presidential aspirants on the ballot.
However, with the possibility of Wetang’ula backing Ruto and Oparanya’s team rallying behind Raila playing out in the open, his chances of getting significant votes from Western Kenya are likely to be badly punctuated.
Unlike previously when leaders from the Mulembe house were divided into two factions, this time around, they are likely to be split into three; the Mudavadi camp, the Raila team and Ruto’s Tanga Tanga faction.
However, analysts argue Raila is likely to have an edge over his competitors, especially if he keeps his Kakamega and Busia strongholds intact.
According to the IEBC database of 2017, Kakamega county had the highest number of registered voters (743,736), followed by Bungoma (559,850), then Busia (351, 048) and Vihiga (272,409).
With Oparanya calling shots in Kakamega and governors Sospeter Ojaamong and Wilber Otichillo in charge of Vihiga and Busia counties, Raila still stands a chance in Western politics.
Bungoma will mainly vote for whoever Wetang’ula will back while Vihiga will overwhelmingly support Mudavadi.
Mudavadi also enjoys significant support in Kakamega and parts of Trans Nzioa county.
Should Ruto manage to get the backing of Wetang’ula, coupled up with the likes of Boni Khalwale and other youthful MPs, the Mulembe vote will, without doubt, be divided into three baskets of almost equal size.