It is billed as likely to be the biggest political event of 2016: the imminent defection of Kalonzo Musyoka from Cord to Jubilee. As the countdown to the general elections starts in earnest and political realignments become the order of the day, the Wiper party leader is reportedly tying the loose ends of the deal with Jubilee Party, with sources saying he is expected to make an earthshaking pronouncement in the coming weeks.
Insiders in Cord and the ruling Jubilee intimated to us that Kalonzo is increasingly becoming uncomfortable with ODM party leader Raila Odinga’s dominance in the coalition which has left him and his co-principal Moses Wetang’ula mere spectators on the margins.
The crux of the matter lies in nomination for the presidential ticket of Cord where the three principals have already declared interest in being the coalition’s torchbearer.
Raila and his supporters have been sending broad hints that Kalonzo and Wetang’ula will be flowergirls in the Cord matrix 2017.
However, key confidantes of Kalonzo and Wetang’ula argue that it will be hard for the alliance to hold should their ODM counterparts continue viewing them as junior partners.
ODM has a controlling majority in the coalition and all indications are that Raila is ready to go it alone in what is being described as the “last bullet” in his political rifle, even as others around him fear it is a blank.
Raila has already launched a presidential website and SMS platform with a view to woo support from the youth in his fourth presidential bid to occupy State House.
It is these developments that have forced Kalonzo to rethink his 2017 strategy, as it is becoming increasingly clear that Raila will not endorse him for the presidency in accordance with a secret pact they signed ahead of the 2013 general election in which they lost to Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.
In the undisclosed memorandum, Raila was to go for one term and then back Kalonzo for the presidency in the subsequent general election and Wetang’ula in 2022 polls.
However, Raila’s backers argue that the MoU is not operative as he has not served any term as president and hence, must make another stab at the presidency. According to a Cord innercircle source, Kalonzo is not keen running for presidency due to financial challenges. The first time he ran in 2007, he spent an estimated Sh200 million far behind Raila and then president Mwai Kibaki who spent over Sh2 billion each.
And having read the writing on the wall, Kalonzo has decided to bolt out of Cord early enough in order to have ample time to position himself for the presidency in 2022.
According to a Wiper insider, the appointment of Cleopa Mailu as the cabinet secretary for Health was the first among other major appointments to be made to bring on board Kalonzo’s lieutenants in government. Kalonzo was briefed on the appointment by none other than Uhuru himself. Uhuru is said to be in direct contact with Kalonzo who is said not to get on well with Ruto. To Kalonzo, it is Ruto who worked against his 2013 presidential bid endorsement by Kibaki men by teaming up with Uhuru.
Ruto allies went further to lock Kalonzo out of Jubilee on grounds his shuttle diplomacy to salvage Uhuru and Ruto at the International Criminal Court was a case of shedding crocodile tears when in the true sense, he wanted them in trouble to benefit politically by inheriting their political power base in Central and Rift Valley, pundits opine. Those who used to interact closely with Kalonzo at the time however say the Tseikuru village boy who grew to become vice president of Kenya was sincere in his intentions and was ever empathising with Mama Ngina over the woes facing her son.
How Kalonzo later abandoned Uhuru to join Raila is what many have never come to understand. But those who followed the twists and turns in the runup to the 2013 elections say it was the power sharing deal in the nascent Jubilee where Kalonzo was then member that saw Kalonzo bolt out. The bone of contention, it is said, was the position Kalonzo was to occupy.
The three, it had been agreed, would share government posts on a 33pc basis. Uhuru was to be president, Ruto deputy and Kalonzo leader of majority in parliament, now held by Aden Duale. Kalonzo was however adamant that being the VP, nothing short of number two or higher would do.
As this went on, an isolated Raila using then Kangundo MP Johnson Muthama reached to the Kamba council of elders whom he paid handsomely and tasked them to take Kalonzo to him. The elders were Titus Mbathi, Sam Muumbi, Nyiva Mwenda and David Musila. Behind the scenes was the late Mutula Kilonzo then Mbooni MP who had burnt his bridges with Uhuru and Ruto over his stand on ICC trials against the two. Mutula was then Justice minister and had dismissed Kalonzo’s shuttle diplomacy as waste of time and taxpayers’ money.
It is said in some quarters that the suspicion by Uhuru and Ruto that Kalonzo was not genuine in his shuttle diplomacy was in main caused by Mutula’s stand given that Mutula was secretary general of Kalonzo’s ODM-K now Wiper. The so-called elders or atumia who incidentally become visible around election time which they consider harvest season paid Kalonzo a visit at his then official vice president’s residence and told him that the house was just too good to vacate.
What they meant, Nyiva reportedly elaborated, was that Raila was ready to make Kalonzo his running mate and they were sure he would win and Kalonzo would continue living in that palace. It was then that Kalonzo and Raila started their power sharing bargain. In the power-sharing arrangement, Raila was to bag 50pc, Kalonzo 20pc and Wetangula 20pc with 10pc left to draw others in. What Kalonzo wanted in Jubilee, number two, he got in Cord but with less stake in government.
Kambas with papers who covet government jobs have never forgiven Kalonzo for being so selfish as to agree to a big seat for himself but few posts for his community. Wetangula was to be leader of majority in the senate. He is now leader of minority there. Kalonzo, it is to be remembered, was not Raila’s first choice and was brought in as plan B after George Saitoti whom Raila had designated his running mate died in a helicopter crash in Ngong.
It is said that Raila 2013 strategy was to have Saitoti run for presidency and divide the Kikuyu vote in Rift Valley in his favour. Further, Uhuru was to be dismissed as a person not in touch with the common citizenry. If not in the presidential race, Saitoti was to be Raila’s running mate. To date, it is said Raila still questions the death of Saitoti reading foul play by those deeply involved in the Kibaki succession. To Raila , Saitoti was the Kibaki succession game changer since he could not agree to work with Uhuru and was a man of big pockets and a principled professor of mathematics.
Insiders say that Uhuru is out to fill the slot left by Charity Ngilu in Ukambani politics and the former VP willing to play games is the man since Alfred Mutua has failed to up the political dynamics in the region.
Mailu is a close confidante and adviser of Kalonzo. His appointment is a calculated move to reduce to size Kalonzo’s rival, Ngilu. Mailu, before his appointment, served as Kalonzo’s trusted man and was even the master of ceremony at a meeting called by Kalonzo to chart the way out for Kamba politics at the former VP’s home in Yatta.
Ngilu is facing a charge of obstructing Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission detectives in their probe of the Sh8 billion Karen land scandal.
According to a Wiper party insider, one of the conditions Kalonzo gave Uhuru for him to bolt out of Cord was to cut Ngilu to size by kicking her out of government.
Initially, Uhuru did not want to betray his close confidante since Ngilu was one of his strongest supporters during the campaigns and also stood by him despite the serious charges he faced at the ICC.
Ngilu was in charge of the Land docket when the ICC demanded records of the lands Uhuru owns, which she declined. The records would have been used to demonstrate that Uhuru was rich enough to bankroll the 2007 post-poll violence. Ngilu’s position in Uhuru government was allegedly lobbied on her behalf by Uhuru’s own mother, Mama Ngina.
With Ngilu out in the cold, Kalonzo is considering filling the void in the Jubilee given that leaders, mostly from Luo Nyanza, have made it clear that the former vice president can only play second fiddle to Raila by being at best, his running mate in 2017.
To prove to Uhuru that he is for real, Kalonzo has been skipping the coalition’s functions, the latest being when Raila accompanied Wetang’ula to the Milimani Law Courts to face a special Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission committee over voter bribery during the last polls. However, other sources say that Kalonzo has been attending to his ailing wife.
Kalonzo missed Raila’s so-called state of the nation address and also skipped Raila’s press conference on Eurobond recently.
Kalonzo, according to multiple sources, is uneasy in Cord where he lacks a voice and has on numerous occasions been insulted by Gem MP, Jakoyo Midiwo who calls him a “loser and a watermelon”.
The Wiper leader is also facing rebellion in his home-turf spearheaded Governor Mutua. Mutua has started his own Maendeleo Chap Chap Movement.
The movement is viewed by Kalonzo supporters as a political vehicle designed by outside forces to alter the Lower Eastern power structure and undermine him. The governor’s movement has attracted MPs allied to Jubilee coalition and who are attacking Kalonzo in every forum.
The MPs include Victor Munyaka of Machakos Town, Benson Mbai, Masinga, Francis Mwangangi, Yatta, Vincent Musyoka, Mwala, John Munuve, Mwingi North, Joe Mutambu, Mwingi Central and Kilome MP Regina Ndambuki.
The MPs vied on Cord affiliate parties after they lost in Wiper nominations which they termed as flawed.
On another front, Kalonzo has been under pressure from a section of Ukambani leaders to ditch Raila and either join Jubilee or go it alone in next year’s polls. Those close to the Wiper leader say he is deeply concerned on the way Jubilee is working to divide the Kamba vote basket by engaging in a buying spree of MPs majority who are always broke and cannot survive Jubilee overtures. It is on this background that Kalonzo is weighing two options to remain relevant even after 2017 elections. The first is to run alone and negotiate a post-election deal with Uhuru. If he runs, he will strengthen his Wiper party and lock out the Kamba rebels.
During the 2007 elections in which he made his first presidential attempt, Kalonzo swept out strong Kibaki cabinet ministers and later joined him as his vice president. Ministers who were shown the door by his wave included Mutua Katuku, Joseph Munyao, Kalembe Ndile, Kivutha Kibwana, Kyalo Kaindi and Adelina Mwau.
Kalonzo is also trying to work on plan B where he is also exploiting the possibilities of supporting Uhuru’s second term bid and negotiate a key government position but be allowed to field candidates in Ukambani through his Wiper party. Majority of leaders in Wiper are supportive of the idea except Machakos senator Muthama who is still insisting Wiper should be dissolved to form a strong outfit with ODM party. The senator, although represents Wiper in Cord, is not a Wiper party official and so, his views are not considered official.
Among those who have been asking the former VP to cut ties with the ODM leader is Makueni governor Kibwana.
The governor recently castigated Raila as a divisive leader, saying the Kamba community is tired of his empty rhetoric and it was time Kalonzo ditched him completely.
“What are you doing in Cord if you are not getting the presidential ticket?” Kivutha asked Kalonzo in a public meeting.
Similar choruses have come from other leaders such as the United Democratic Forum Galole MP Hassan Dukicha who urged Kalonzo to ditch the opposition and join Jubilee Party.
The MP who was speaking during a fundsdrive to support women groups at Kipao in Tana Delta said Jubilee Party is the party of choice in the next elections, and Kalonzo must be in it to survive politically.
According to sources, Uhuru initially dangled a diplomatic post to Kalonzo where he was to replace Dalmas Otieno as the special envoy in the Great Lakes region that also brings on board Southern Sudan as a warm up to bigger things.
The president wanted Kalonzo to use the experience gained as Foreign Affairs minister to bring together the warring faction in South Sudan. The plan was put on hold after the former VP, who is the consul of Government of Cyprus in Nairobi, gave conditions which included pushing Ngilu out of government before he could accept the offer.
As for Raila, according to insiders, he is aware of Kalonzo’s moves. Just like in 2007 polls when Raila predicted that Kalonzo would bolt out to join Kibaki, he is now sure that his deputy has fallen victim to Jubilee manipulation and will bolt out anytime from now.
Sources say Kalonzo is working on a number of strategies that will see him assume the presidency in 2022 with next year’s poll being billed to be Uhuru-Raila second encounter.