Why Kalonzo Stands to Lose By Bulldozing Raila

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta (left), Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka (centre) and ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) at Jubilee NDC at KICC on Saturday, February 26, 2022
    President Uhuru Kenyatta (left), Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka (centre) and ODM leader Raila Odinga (left) at Jubilee NDC at KICC on Saturday, February 26, 2022
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  • Politics has no rules, it's a game of convenience. University of Nairobi don and political analyst, Dr Jane Thuo says in response to Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s decision to publicise a secret 2017 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. 

    Governance specialist and Political Communication Strategist, Javas Bigambo adds that there won’t be any ripple effect to Kalonzo’s move, nor will it affect negotiations with Raila’s Azimio la Umoja. 

    “Kalonzo is appearing political desperate in an attempt to hoodwink Raila,” Bigambo told Kenyans.co.ke.

    The Wiper leader, on Tuesday, March 1, argued that Raila breached an agreement where they agreed to endorse him as President in 2022, whether their defunct coalition, National Super Alliance (NASA) won the presidential race in 2017 or not. 

    Former NASA leaders from Left, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetangula, Raila Odinga and Musalia Mudavadi during a press brief in 2018.
    Former NASA leaders from Left, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetangula, Raila Odinga, and Musalia Mudavadi during a press brief in 2018.
    Twitter

    But President Uhuru Kenyatta trounced the duo in 2017, winning his second term. It was a contested race that saw the Supreme Court nullify President Kenyatta's win, following a petition by Odinga-led NASA . The country's political landscape has however changed and Uhuru who was to endorse his deputy, William Ruto, has since thrown his weight behind Raila Odinga as his preferred successor.

    “By accepting the nomination of ODM to run as president for the 5th time, I believe Raila Odinga has committed an irreparable material breach of this agreement.

    “My brother (Raila) has the option of abiding by our legal agreement or choosing to act in utter defiance and repudiation of the agreement compounding the trust deficit. In both cases, he remains a brother and I'm ready to work with him again,” Musyoka stated in a press conference. 

    He further pinpointed that Uhuru suggested that he will support either him or Raila as Azimio la Umoja candidate.

    Kalonzo the Undecided or the Kingmaker? 

    “I have been compelled to release this document to answer in part some of the criticism labelled against me to wit, “The indecisive Kingmaker,” Kalonzo explained his decision. 

    Dr Thuo argued that Kalonzo is setting himself up for embarrassment by attempting to bulldoze Raila. She added that the Wiper leader is at the crossroads on whether to support Raila, run on his own or join the Ruto brigade. 

    “Supporting Raila is the best option for him as he won’t get a piece of the pie in Ruto’s camp and won’t win running on his own. Joining Ruto like Mudavadi will make him lose his credibility,” she explained. 

    Bigambo concurred, but first, he sought to clarify why Kalonzo going public on his MoU with Raila was a poor strategy. 

    “The secret deal between him and Raila was made within the NASA framework and certain components come to light. The agreement was entered under a presumption of Raila winning the presidency and then delegating some duties to Kalonzo. 

    “That presumption can no longer hold because the presidency was not won. Raila will delegate duties, he cannot delegate them now as he is not the President as per the agreement. The object of the agreement cannot necessarily hold. NASA collapsed. Part of the agreement was in case of a breach, the document will be made public. It has, so what?” Bigambo argued that Kalonzo misjudged the situation. 

    President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM Leader Raila odinga during their NDC at KICC on Saturday February 26, 2022
    President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga during their NDC at KICC on Saturday, February 26, 2022
    PSCU

    Kalonzo, in the media address, indeed agreed that NASA collapsed, but reiterated that the agreement was solely between him and Raila and not a NASA MoU. 

    However, Bigambo disagreed with his perspective. 

    “If the spirit is gone, the heart is and the brain is too. The document won't be subject to negotiation,” he underlined.

    The legal aspect of the document and the interpretation therein further ignited debate. 

    “Dear Kalonzo. I thought NASA was a stillbirth. I thought some individuals, you included, rushed to the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties to officially dissolve NASA even though it was a stillbirth. How then can a NASA deal be binding when it ended at birth?” UoN don and political analyst, Herman Manyora wrote on his social media pages. 

    “In releasing the 2017 agreement in which Raila covenants to support Kalonzo for the 2022 Presidential elections whether or not he wins the 2017 elections, Musyoka has gained the high moral ground and shows he is a man of honour. The converse can be said of Hon Raila,” Senior Counsel Ahmednassir Abdullahi defended Kalonzo. 

    “Kalonzo has backed his statement, with facts,” Soy MP, Caleb Kositany, an ally of Ruto added. 

    OKA as base for Kalonzo 

    Bigambo, nonetheless, reiterated that Kalonzo is currently tied to OKA and ought to negotiate with Raila as an independent member if he insists on using the 2017 MoU. 

    Nevertheless, OKA, he opined, is a flowery coalition whose co-principals cannot mount a serious presidential campaign like Raila or Ruto. Other co-principals alongside Kalonzo are Martha Karua (Narc-Kenya), Cyrus Jirongo (United Democratic Party) and Gideon Moi (Kanu).

    “Kalonzo has not presented himself as a presidential candidate and neither has he traversed the country. He has done well in press conferences though. Even in the agreement between him and Raila, it is clear that he is relying on Raila sharing campaign resources with him. 

    “He lacks resources, which compromises his negotiation. If OKA had serious resources, they could campaign and ask to negotiate as equals. Martha Karua ran for the presidency before and did not have an effect, in 2017 she ran in Kirinyaga. I doubt her party has serious members within the country. She also has not positioned herself as a candidate.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta dancing at Jubilee NDC at the Kenya International Convention Centre (KICC) on Saturday, February 26, 2022
    President Uhuru Kenyatta dancing at Jubilee NDC at the Kenya International Convention Centre (KICC) on Saturday, February 26, 2022
    File

    “Jirongo has not had a single baraza, he is hanging on the coat of other candidates 

    OKA is not a formidable movement. It is amorphous,” he argued.

    Mt Kenya Effect 

    Analysts argue that having a running mate from the Mt Kenya region will boost presidential aspirants in their quest to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta. The region, for the first time ever, may not field a candidate, but still demands to dictate the way forward. 

    Bigambo noted that Kalonzo may decide to run on his own and also chose a running mate from Mt Kenya, but this won’t have a huge effect on the 2022 race. He argued that the Central Kenya vote will be divided between Raila and Ruto if they both pick running mates from the region. 

    “Who can be his running mate from Central Kenya be? Martha Karua cannot command a huge following. In 2013, Mudavadi had Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa MP) as a running mate and it was inconsequential. 

    “Kalonzo cannot force a runoff, he does not have even half of Raila’s machinery. Prior to August 8, even Gideon will not be in OKA if the alliance stays put. Kalonzo is OKA’s only force and he is better poised supporting Raila,” he observed. 

    Dr Jane Thuo, UoN don, added that Raila may trounce Kalonzo in Lower Eastern, but differed with Bigambo on the Mt Kenya running mate effect. 

    “I am not sure that Raila getting a Mt Kenya DP may be of value to him. Kalonzo is well poised to be Raila's deputy and I expect the two to continue running together. Am not dismissing that Kalonzo will get a percentage of his backyard votes, but he may end up being embarrassed,” she explained. 

    On the two forming government, she highlighted that they would coordinate well as they had similar ideologies and Kalonzo had proven to be loyal to Raila when the two joined hands. 

    “Kalonzo will not pick a leaf from Ruto who openly defied Uhuru. He has some etiquette and is not overly ambitious. We can see his demeanour he is wise,” she detailed. 

    Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka speaks at Jubilee's NDC on Saturday, February 26, 2022
    Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka speaks at Jubilee's NDC on Saturday, February 26, 2022
    File