• April 24, 2024
  • Last Update April 23, 2024 10:40 PM
  • Nairobi




Forget the so-called “endorsements” and declarations of presidential ambitions from various quarters – Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka is the man to watch as the 2022 General Election beckons.

The Wiper Democratic Movement Leader not only boasts of an enviable national leadership record, culminating in his appointment as Vice-President in the 2008-2013 Coalition Government, he is also an internationally-acclaimed diplomat whose efforts have led to the restoration of peace in South Sudan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among other regions.

At the national level, Kalonzo would have been assured of a direct National Super Alliance (NASA) ticket in 2022, with the Amani National Congress Leader Musalia Mudavadi as his automatic running mate, had the coalition held out until the forthcoming General Election, and had our politics been more honest, predictable, and ethical.

You see, Kalonzo has supported Raila Odinga, the Orange Democratic Movement Leader, in two General Elections (2013 and 2017), twice as the latter’s running mate. In a normal state of affairs, one would have expected Raila to return the favour by backing Kalonzo in 2022.

But, Kenyan politics being what it is, it may have to take a miracle for Raila to back Kalonzo. Politics of dishonesty and deceit appear to have taken root in Kenya, with greed, personal aggrandizement and backstabbing hogging the limelight.

When Kalonzo lined up behind Raila in the two General Elections, his supporters, and particularly those in his core support base of Ukambani, expected that the ODM Leader would later say: “Kalonzo Tosha!” (Kalonzo is the True Choice).

An air of disappointment now pervades the Lower Eastern Region, with the backers of the Wiper Leader vowing to teach Raila a lesson, should he go ahead and vie for the Presidency in 2022 or any other time.

Picture this scenario: In 2013, the Coalition on Reforms and Democracy (CORD), and NASA (2017) under the stewardship of Raila as the presidential candidate and Kalonzo as his running mate, managed well over 80 per cent of the Kamba vote despite a well-oiled Jubilee juggernaut led by Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. In both instances, Kalonzo was outstanding in the campaigns, enabling Raila to garner more votes from the region than even from his Luo Nyanza backyard.

The above scenario, however, may have misled Raila and his lieutenants to think that they can marshal support from Ukambani even without Kalonzo’s input. During the campaigns for the Kibera parliamentary by-elections last year, Raila even went on to boast that for him, Kamba support was assured. “Wakamba ni kama wanawake tu. Wakikuambia watakupea, watakupea!” (Kambas are like women. When they promise that they will give you (something), they will give it to you!”  Big mistake!  That statement, plus the mistaken notion that Raila has been getting the Kamba support due to his (Raila’s) popularity among Kambas, could be debunked in the next electoral contest, much to the chagrin and embarrassment of the ODM supremo.

The fact of the matter is that Raila has been getting Kamba votes due to Kalonzo’s popularity and influence on the ground. Anyone doubting this, should just look at the historical background and the voting patterns in Ukambani since 2007, when Kalonzo first vied for the Presidency and ran away with the Kamba vote, shutting out both (former President) Mwai Kibaki and Raila from the region.

Charity Ngilu (now Kitui Governor), who was Raila’s pointsperson in Ukambani in 2007, could hardly manage to garner more than three per cent of the vote for Raila. Other Kamba politicians who stood with Kibaki could not withstand the Kalonzo wave, and were vanquished.

Come 2013, and Ngilu had now moved to help Uhuru Kenyatta to win the Kamba vote. She not only lost her Senatorial bid, but also made a miserable show for Uhuru, whose spirited campaign managed a paltry 15 per cent of the region’s vote.

In 2017, it was Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s turn to face the flak of the populace by going against Kalonzo. After feverishly campaigning for President Kenyatta and Jubilee, Mutua and the entire Jubilee campaign machinery would emerge with less than 20 per cent of the Kamba vote. Mutua himself barely scraped through as Governor, managing only a half of the number of Members of the County Assembly garnered by his competitor, Wavinya Ndeti (that is, nine MCAs for Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap Party against 18 MCAs for Wiper and Wavinya, a scenario that left many voters wondering how a Governor could be so popular as to win the vote but lose the grassroots support (MCAS).

Additionally, while Mutua managed only one Member of Parliament from Ukambani (Mwala’s Vincent Musyoka, alias ‘Kawaya’), Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper got 16 elected MPs in Ukambani, not to mention a huge haul of MCAs, making Wiper the most dominant party with the majority in all the three Ukambani counties.

This leads me to another point: which is that the proclamations by the three Ukambani Governors that they will be vying for the Presidency in 2022, is nothing but hot air! None of the three Governors can make any significant impact without the core support of their backyard. If the past voting patterns are anything to go by, then the county leaders are in for a very rude surprise.

For Mutua, for example, his sole Ukambani MP Kawaya has defected to Deputy President William Ruto’s side. Little is known about the political allegiance of the other two MCCP MPs – Stanley Muthama of Lamu West and Joshua Kandie of Baringo Central. This makes the Machakos Governor a subject of mockery by his political rivals who ask which MP(s) will be accompanying the MCCP Leader in his forays to look for votes. Or will it just be a one-man show? And how can a leader without a “back-up” of MPs dream of even making an impact in the race for the Presidency?

A worse scenario obtains for Ngilu and Kibwana. For Ngilu, 2017 was a particularly painful year as her party did not manage to get even a single MP elected on her party ticket. For Kibwana, who

moved to Wiper a few months to the election and managed to save himself from imminent defeat, no single MP (whether Wiper or any other) is currently associating with him in his dream of vying for the country’s top seat. Quite telling, is it not?

It follows, therefore, that Kalonzo has no one capable of upsetting him in his political backyard. Those claiming to be opposing him in Ukambani are actually political dwarfs with negligible support on the ground. They have no ability or gravitas to wrestle with the man who leads the third largest political party in terms of parliamentary representation, after Jubilee and ODM.

Bottom line: When it comes to national politics, Kalonzo is well primed to be the next president of this country. The other two main competitors – Raila and Ruto – are too polarizing. Kenya obviously needs a leader capable of cooling down the political temperatures and returning the country to its political stability. That person, according to me, is none other than Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka.

Onesmus Kilonzo is Head of Communication, Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya

The views expressed herein are his own and do not reflect the official standpoint of the Party.

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