In Summary
  • Mr Nyenze caught friend and foe off balance earlier last week when he demanded that Nasa should name its flagbearer within seven days or face a walkout by his Wiper party.
  • Cord MPs questioned Nyenze's loyalty to the Opposition cause and threatened to replace him with his deputy, Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, on the basis of his apparent lack of drive and passion in providing leadership.
  • Mr Nyenze has also had to face accusations of having gone to bed with the ruling Jubilee party mandarins.

For Francis Mwanzia Nyenze, the burly, soft spoken National Assembly Minority Leader, politics is a game of wits where success depends on how you catch your opponents by surprise.

Mr Nyenze caught friend and foe off balance earlier last week when he demanded that the National Super Alliance (Nasa) should name its flagbearer within seven days or face a walkout by his Wiper party.

His hardline position that Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka would leave Nasa if he is not named the presidential candidate attracted condemnation within the coalition and celebration in Jubilee in equal measure.

The announcement caught even the Wiper party membership unawares as he convened the press conference alone while a National Executive Council meeting was under way.  

As the official leader of Opposition troops in the National Assembly and a member of the Nasa negotiating committee, it was least expected of him to drop such a political bombshell but it forced the coalition principals to come out to quell fears of imminent collapse.

From his role as the Minority Leader in the National Assembly to serving as MP for Kitui West Constituency, Mr Nyenze rarely attracts national attention.
He keeps a low profile and is rarely covered by the media in Kitui County.

DEFYING POPULAR OPINION

While debate continues on whether his comments represented the views of his party boss, the manner and the language in which they were delivered have indicated that he has a knack for defying popular opinion.

An excellent guitarist and a member of his church choir since his days at the University of Nairobi where he studied Art and Design, Mr Nyenze cuts the demeanour of a political underdog.

But his friends describe him as a sharp-witted man whose dull image has helped him to outsmart his political rivals.

“His image is deceptive. Behind the lacklustre and boring expression lies a calculating and cunning politician who cannot be underrated and who easily gets away with deliberate mistakes,” said Mr Rodgers Kaleve, a businessman in Kabati market in Kitui West.

Mr Kaleve says Mr Nyenze spoke for the silent majority of Wiper party supporters even though he may have used inappropriate language. “But that’s him,” he says.

“Even in Kitui politics, he survives by allowing his opponents to underrate his political strengths and he is comfortable when people dismiss him as a political weakling,” he explained.

PLUM POSITION

Within Wiper Party circles, the son of a renowned Africa Inland Church pastor, the late Reverend Philip Nyenze Mwambu, is rarely seen accompanying his party leader in campaign rallies even though he is the senior-most elected legislator.

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