The Powerful Hands of Party Leaders’ Wives in 2017 Primaries

The wives of leading political parties in the country have become powerful behind the scenes power brokers who are determining and destroying the political ambitions and futures of many personalities.

TOP: Raila & Ida . BELOW: Tessie & Mudavadi

This state of affairs clearly emerged during the recently concluded sham and mess that were the political parties’ primaries to nominate Members of the County Assemblies, the National Assembly, the Senate, the gubernatorial and Presidential positions in preparation for the August general elections.

The power of these women may not have been evident overtly but its manifestation expressed itself covertly with devastating consequences to the aspirants for some of these positions who were not in their favour.

It cut across virtually all the leading or most popular political parties across the country starting with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Jubilee, the Amani National Congress (ANC), Wiper, and Ford Kenya among others.

What has clearly emerged is that political parties have become mere tools to make colossal amounts of cash and powerful whips to hammer personalities who are not in the favour of their owners or controllers hence the emergence of their wives as powerful power brokers.

In the end throwing into total complete shambles the very basic principles of democracy and the will of the people whose consequences are the un-precedented huge number of aspirants seeking elective office opting out to contest as independent candidates – a phenomenon that had never been witnessed in the country’s history.

The most prominent manifestation came out in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) led by Raila Odinga the National Super Alliance (NASA) nominee presidential flag bearer whose wife Ida Odinga’s force was felt in certain counties whose classic example we want to document here.

This was followed by the ANC led by Musalia Mudavadi whose wife Tessie Mudavadi’s force was clearly manifested in some of the party’s nomination processes where she had interests with specific candidates in her favour.

In jubilee’s equally messy primaries, the question of a female powerful hand calling shots cannot be ruled out, the first lady may not have manifestly exercised that power, but at least the party leader President Uhuru Kenyatta’s mother Mama Ngina is publicly known to have done so at least for her son.

Though Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s wife Pauline Musyoka is not a high profile public figure just like Tessie including that of Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula’s wife Anne Ngugi Wetangula it cannot be under estimated the political force they may be quietly wielding behind their husbands.

The force of Mudavadi’s wife Tessie clearly emerged during the ANC’s Dagorreti North constituency’s primaries in Nairobi where her reportedly favourite candidate for the party’s ticket Bernard Shilibwa was badly trounced coming third among the five contestants for the party’s ticket.

The May 4th primaries saw the former cabinet minister and Westlands legislator Fred Gumo’s son Magero Gumo emerging the winner with 9, 800 votes against Shilibwa’s 3800 who came a distant third after Babandege Wandiri who came second garnereing 7, 900 while Hardly Machayo came fourth with 1800 votes.

Having not officially launched any complain officially, Shilibwa who is known to be Tessie’s favourite stormed the ANC headquarters demanding to be granted the party’s nomination certificate with arrogant impunity and from there the drama begun that quickly landed in court which ordered on Monday May 15th for a repeat within 72 hours.

That gave Shilibwa and the ANC secretariat and Mudavadi who was under immense pressure from Tessie a chance to quickly organize for a sham repeat nominations process presided over by Shilibwa’s henchmen on May 17th with the other contestants being given a very short notice of the exercise. Indeed they boycotted and went back to court to contest the sham primaries.

Indeed despite spirited appeals by the aggrieved contestants who boycotted the sham repeats on Wednesday May 17th, Mudavadi kept a loud silence on the whole business as the party headquarters had declined for un-known reasons to release its nominations certificate to Gumo.

Ida’s force on the other hand reportedly erupted in the Busia County gubernatorial nomination exercise in which her favourite candidate the incumbent governor Sospeter Ojaamong was clearly losing out to his opponent Funyula legislator Paul Otuoma in the ODM primaries.

The results showed that Otuoma was leading Ojaamong by huge margins in five sub-counties of the county only for things to turn around only in two sub-counties of Teso North and South whose results were delayed for hours on end only for it to emerge that they are the only ones where the incumbent led.

That was yet the beginning of another drama where the force of Ida’s hand was implicated, though the ODM secretariat which announced the results ordered a repeat only in the two sub-counties, Otuoma in a huff quit and went for a certificate to contest as an independent candidate against Ojaamong at the August general elections.

What has clearly emerged is the fact that the governor has had close filial relationship with the Odingas family for many decades, particularly since the death of his father Ojamaa Ojaamong who was once the Member of Parliament for the then Amogoro constituency.

Previously Otuoma had fallen out with the ODM leader Raila Odinga with one of the key reasons being his (Raila’s) family’s being highly favourable to Ojaamong who he was already gunning to oust within ODM but fearing the Odinga’s influence in the exercise.

The powerful force of the women’s influence in politics in Kenya is perhaps crowned by the former first lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta who is known to have played powerful role in influencing her son President Kenyatta into politics.

Notwithstanding the fact that at the last general election she indeed played a critical role in fighting for her son to win the Presidency, otherwise previously a highly private personality in the recent past she was at it again to obviously fight for her son to get a second term.

That was when she paid retired President Daniel Arap Moi a private visit at his private home in Kabarnet late last year when the retired President’s senator Gideon appeared to be a major threat to cut down the Uhuru vote or support during this year’s elections in the expansive former Rift Valley province because of his sharp differences with Deputy President and Kenyatta’s running mate William Ruto.


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