KAMPALA – Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga has ditched his two-time running mate Kalonzo Musyoka of the Wiper party in favour of Martha Wangari Karua in what has been seen as an attempt to win women votes. As a compromise, Odinga inadvertently hoodwinked Musyoka to take up a non-constitutional position of Chief Cabinet Secretary if Azimio wins the August, 9th 2022 Presidential elections.
Clearly, Kalonzo saw this coming, no wonder he was erratic from the beginning akin a man on a mission, it was written in black and white, a running mate had to be a Kikuyu given the fact that the two main contenders are not from Mt Kenya.
It appears Kalonzo was aware his bid as Deputy President had been rejected and went ahead to declare himself a Presidential candidate. I am yet to establish if Kenyan laws allow a candidate to pick a running mate without any coalition in place.
He also appointed Narok senator hopeful Andrew Leteipa Ole Sunkuli as his running mate. I personally thought Gideon Moi would have been a better choice but I was wrong. Kalonzo faces legal hurdles as he had already committed his wiper party to the Azimio La Umoja one Kenya Alliance.
It appears he was tricked into signing the coalition agreement that has stringent terms, but yet as a lawyer, he was expected to know what he was doing. He cannot exist until the conditions of the agreement are fulfilled or impeached meaning that Kalonzo can only exit as an individual.
As a matter of procedure, he is supposed to commence his complaint using Internal dispute resolution mechanisms which when it fails an aggrieved party engages the political parties disputes tribunal. It is possible that this particular coalition agreement is ambiguous? The parties could also agree to release each other by consent but the balance of convenience lies in Kalonzo compromising to take up some leftovers.
It is said that the Azimio coalition document have a clause that blocks any party from leaving the outfit six months to the August 9th election and three months after polls. Clearly, the draftsman of this agreement intended to lock Wiper into the collation even in the event that a re-run is ordered. However, Kalonzo seems confident that some of the clauses can be used to impeach the entire coalition agreement to free his party and others like OKA from the bondage. Besides, it is the first time such an agreement is put to test and cannot be used as a tool to defeat the provisions of their constitution- supreme law of the Republic of Kenya.
When Kalonzo Musyoka went against the will of his supporters and attended the Wekesa Azimio select Panel, many started questioning his integrity. All Kenyans knew it was an interviewing Panel to make recommendations for a Deputy President. Surprisingly, Kalonzo called the whole process a conversation in which he was supposed to defend his desire to become deputy.
Kenyans decided to push the outcome of what transpired under the carpet, surely there is no conversation where one presents his CV and academic credentials.
He may appear confused, dejected, untrustworthy, undecided, disorganized, disgruntled but Kalonzo Stephen Musyoka is a man you cannot easily write off Kenya’s political scene. The likes of Herman Manyora and Kivutha Kibwana attacking Kalonzo are doing so at their own peril and those courting him to join Kenya Kwanza must do so with wisdom. Kalonzo commands a lot of respect among elders in Kenya and among his Ukambani people and he is very much alive to this fact.
It is the reason why he is playing his cards safe, he knows his strength. With our without him on the Presidential Ballot paper, his supporters seem to have resolved to stand with him through thick and thin, any direction he points they will follow.
This race has always been a two horse journey and Kalonzo Musyoka was aware of this fact and that is why he wanted to be a running mate.
Now that the calculations of the day necessitated a running mate coming from among the Kikuyu, poor Raila Odinga was left with no option but to follow the dictates of the day. To Raila, a Kikuyu woman was best suited for the job and Kalonzo had to be sacrificed. Elections being a game of numbers, I wouldn’t blame Azimio for discarding Kalonzo despite their history; I would have done the same if I were in Raila’s shoes.
If Kalonzo insists on being on the ballot paper, there is a high likelihood no candidate will garner a 50+1 in the August 9th 2022 Kenya Presidential elections. A re-run is this case would mean two front runners in the first round will be allowed to go for the re-run and that is when the Kalonzo factor will make sense. To win that re-run, any of the two candidates will need Kalonzo’s support base on their side to beat the odds.
Having been a former Vice President and above all a Wiper Party leader for the third largest political party, Kalonzo must be treated with glove hands even at a time when he is planning to seek leave of court to separate exit Azimio.
It is my considered view that Kalonzo Musyoka will have to prove exceptional grounds to disentangle his Wiper Party from the Azimio La Umoja one Kenya Alliance; besides, time is not his best ally. Failure to convince the tribunals or Court to grant him an exit will leave Kalonzo with four options, to continue challenging any decision against time to the highest court, remain in Azimio, join Ruto or go for the seat as an independent candidate of course with no chances of winning but as a spoiler. The limitation not to exit 6 months to elections and the 3 months notice after elections will impact negatively against the Wiper Leader.
It was confirmed by Kalonzo himself and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior that Uhuru Kenyatta had made several attempts to convince the wiper leader to accept the appointment of Martha Wangari in vain. Disgraced by Kalonzo’s defiance, Odinga is said to have followed Musyoka to his home over the weekend leading to the nomination with the hope of persuading him to remain royal to Azimio in vain. To Kalonzo, this had marked the end of “their marriage” and to him; it was time to move on without Raila. This means by the time Raila declared Martha Karua as his running mate, Kalonzo was already aware of that stand. Being a man who makes statements with disclaimers he again said they will only meet to compare notes.
The pertinent question that nobody has answered is whether or not Kalonzo will make a ‘u’ turn as he has always done or go it alone all the way. The other insight which many have not looked into is why Uhuru Kenyatta was conspicuously absent during the unveiling of Martha Karua and instead sent Matiang’i to represent him? If I were an adviser to Azimio, I would tell them to look for votes without Uhuru, 10 years in power are enough for any President to make mistakes, step or peoples toes by omission or commission. If you observed, 95% of the Azimio manifesto are the weaknesses and failures of the outgoing Government led by Uhuru.
I would like the readers to recall that Kalonzo Musyoka ran in 2007 Presidential elections and emerged third. At formation of Mwai Kibaki’s Government, Kalonzo was appointed vice-president, and Mr Odinga as Prime Minister in a Grand Coalition government formed after the disputed Presidential election. He would later back Mr Odinga, as his running mate, in the 2013 and 2017 elections to the chagrin of Uhuru and his running mate Ruto.
For those who may not recall the outcome of that 2013 election, Kalonzo Musyoka’s political base of Makueni, Kitui and Machakos voted overwhelmingly for Raila Odinga. Those who underestimate Kalonzo in the three areas are reminded that Odinga was given 900,405 votes out of the 1,068,684 registered voters. It is said that Kalonzo is the reason why Odinga managed to get over 5.3 million votes in the country and increased chances of defeating or causing a re-run.
Again with Kalonzo as a running mate in 2017, Raila Odinga improved and obtained about 968,437 votes in Kalonzo’s Ukambani area. This is an upward trajectory that no political player can take for granted. Let us imagine Raila’s results in 2013 and 2017 without votes from Kalonzo’s area of influence. To me, that is the reason why I think Raila has a bigger problem to deal with than ever before, he certainly needs Kalonzo at this last attempt. Even with the consistent Kamba vote, Raila has on both occasions polled below 45% of the total votes cast, I believe his rating will be undermined come 9th August, 2022 if he is sidelined by Kalonzo. Raila Odinga will do anything to win back Kalonzo but certainly at a very high cost.
I don’t think Martha Karua can bring more votes from Kirinyaga than what Kalonzo has always placed on the table for Raila. I will say something here that many are not comfortable talking about, Martha Karua is too clean and too straight to work with Raila Odinga. She even has no will to rig elections in her own home area as others have often done. Was it a mistake to dump Kalonzo in favour of Karua or it was the right decision at the right time for the right cause.
I have always heard footballers recite a theory that “Never Change a Winning Team” a saying that we can also employ here to understand what is at stake for Raila Odinga now that they have parted ways with Kalonzo. If we are to analyse the 2013 elections, Uhuru polled 6.1M votes which translates into 50.51% while Mr Odinga got 5.3M which is 43.7%.
In the 2017 Presidential polls, the final tally gave Uhuru 8.2M votes-54.2% while Odinga got 6.7M votes-44.7%. From the foregoing results, it is evident that Uhuru and Raila got more votes in 2017 and the percentage also increased. Now let us imagine Raila’s percentage without Kalonzo’s Ukambani support is now well over 1.7M. My guts tell me that the only way Kenya can to avoid a re-run is by one of the Candidates pens a deal with Kalonzo to sway his support to that particular candidate.
But what is in the bag for Kalonzo if he opted to support or join any of the two leading outfits, my answer is nothing.
Most of the positions have been ring-fenced and allocated to loyal members in both coalitions yet the only available slots for Kalonzo, having served twice as Kenya’s Vice President would be Chief Justice or Speaker; these two positions have also been ring fenced and not available.
With slim chance for Kalonzo to contest ever again, cashing him out with some billions of Kenyan shillings would suffice and whoever he opts to support would have given money since taking any position less of a vice president is an insult to Kalonzo.
Mr. Roger Wadada Musaalo is a Lawyer, human rights activist, researcher, and politician