A supremacy battle has erupted ahead of the burial of former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile.
Two warring political factions locked horns on Thursday in an attempt to hold sway as to where the burial ceremony is to be conducted in Kibwezi West, Makueni County, on Friday.
One group is pushing for the ceremony to be held at Mbui Nzau market, along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway. The other is seeking to have the Tip leader’s final sendoff held at his residence in Kivuthini village.
Confusion in preparation was evident; three tents had been erected as of Thursday morning in Kivuthini. Workers, aided by bulldozers, toiled nearly around the clock to ready the new grounds for June 11’s burial rites.
Harun Ngolanye, the chairperson of Kivuthini committee, confirmed that preparations are set for the ceremony at the former MP’s residence.
“All is set for the burial. The compound will only allow 200 attendants due to Covid-19 protocols and that is the instructions we have been given by the security apparatus,” said Ngolanye.
According to Harun, other mourners will follow the burial proceedings through TV screens put up nearby.
In a twist, a section of Ndile’s family faulted the committee chair for limiting the attendees to a small number. They insisted that everyone could attend the burial as Ndile associated with all freely.
The late MP’s elder sister, Mary Jacob, said that mourners should be allowed to attend the burial but under strict Covid-19 containment guidelines.
“Kalembe loved all people. Even if it is anything to do with the pandemic the government should allow people to come to the send-off of their own,” said Jacob.
Jacob went on to warn politicians against turning the burial into a political arena.
“Kalembe was hopping from one party to the other. He was in Jubilee Party then moved to Wiper and we can’t associate him with a particular party. He was a man of all that is why we have decided the church to take over,” said Jacob.
Eulogizing Kalembe, former squatters requested to be prioritized at the burial ceremony.
“I have known him for the last 20 years from the time he was burning charcoal and hawking vegetables. He fought for our rights while we were landless and therefore, we can’t be denied entry. Let there be a certain laid down protocols for Kalembe’s neighbours to be allowed to bury him,” said Patricia Katama.
Dignitaries who are expected to attend the burial include Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, among others.