Tension Between Raila, Kalonzo Escalate as ODM Raids Ukambani

From left: Party leaders Moses Wetangula (Ford-Kenya), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Raila Odinga (ODM) at rallies in 2021
Kalonzo Musyoka/Raila Odinga

The relationship between former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Wiper Party leader, Kalonzo Musyoka, has worsened with the two differing over Raila’s Ukambani tour set for Friday, November 12. 

Insiders privy to the details told Kenyans.co.ke that Kalonzo is opposed to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader’s tour and rallied his allies against Raila. The Wiper party, according to the source, wanted to take control of Raila’s visit and demanded to plan his trips, organise his calendar and politicians who would speak during his Lower Eastern tour.

Wiper also protested against Deputy President William Ruto’s frequent visits to the region. However, sources close to Kalonzo detailed that the move by the Wiper leader to skip Odinga's meeting was meant to paint him as a neutral leader, despite indications that he was more open to talks with the Deputy President as opposed to the former Premier.

On Saturday, November 6, Kalonzo detailed that he was open to negotiating with Ruto on a 2022 presidential pact. 

Deputy President William Ruto (LEFT) and Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka (RIGHT) at KICC, Nairobi, on December 10, 2019.
William Ruto

Reports indicate that Raila is planning to use Kalonzo’s rivals, Governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), to counter the Wiper Party leader who is under pressure to maintain the status quo as the region’s kingpin. 

Kalonzo was reported to have reached out to Kibwana, seeking to convince the Muungano Party to reject Raila’s invitation. The former Prime Minister and DP Ruto are expected to commence their Ukambani tours on Friday, November 12. 

“Kivutha rejected Kalonzo’s plan to oppose Raila. The two exchanged words with Kivutha insisting that he would receive and welcome Raila,” sources who spoke on condition of anonymity stated. 

On Tuesday, November 9, Kivutha tweeted that Raila invited him to the forthcoming South Eastern Kenya bloc Azimio la Umoja event - The former Prime Minister’s tour.

“I purpose to attend. This is the time to share and digest ideas that will save our country. Like Muungano Party, ODM subscribes to the UTU economic model,” he posted. 

Makueni Senator, Mutula Kilonzo Junior, added that Wiper is aware of plans to isolate Kalonzo in the region. 

“We are aware of the plans. The idea is to isolate Kalonzo and create a narrative that he has lost his grip. In addition, there is a notion that governors have the resources to mobilise crowds. Raila is welcome but these schemes will only harden our resolve not to be bulldozed. The governors cannot marshal Kambas even if they have all the resources in the world,” the Senator stated. 

Insiders further told Kenyans.co.ke that Kivutha is prepared to abandon his Presidential aspirations in favour of Raila. However, ODM is wary of Kivutha’s unwavering personality as the Makueni Governor has been lukewarm in his stance. 

Kivutha has always shifted camp from Ruto to Raila, supporting and endorsing the embattled Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) at one point and opposing it at another. 

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka (Centre) with Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka (centre) with Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu (left) and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana (right) during a meeting on May 29, 2019