By Athman Amran and Vitalis Kimutai
Having lost most of his political point men at the grassroots, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has opted to tapping the influence of elders. But whether this will eventually translate into votes in his bid for the presidency in 2013 is still a matter of conjecture.
The VP has so far held face-to-face discussions with elders from various communities to seek their support as he seeks to succeed President Kibaki. Political observers, however, agree that Kalonzo, having no established political beacons in the regions, has no other choice but to go for opinion leaders.
Dr Paul Chirchir of Kabarak University says the VP has been meeting with the “right” people, giving the example of the Kalenjin Council of Elders chairman Josiah Sang, a former PS.
“They are the right people but whether they have clout is another issue,” Chirchir said. He, however, said targeting community elders would work in Kalonzo’s favour.
“That is a plus for him. I remember Kalonzo did not have any concrete strategy in his previous attempt. This is a positive step,” Chirchir said. He, however, said unlike in 2007 when Kalonzo’s image was negative, especially after the “traitor” tag when he parted ways with Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the ground has softened.
Political analyst and university of Nairobi lecturer Adams Oloo says Kalonzo has no other option but to seek the support of opinion leaders on the ground.
According to Dr Oloo, the VP still needs a base, which should come from established politicians and not just anybody who has had a high profile post in public service.
“Having had a high profile Government post does not necessarily mean you are popular on the ground,” Oloo said.
Kalonzo’s latest meeting was with the Kipsigis Council of Elders, who had paid him a courtesy call at his Karen residence in Nairobi.
The Kipsigis elders included a former Home Affairs PS Joshua Terer and Bishop Paul Leleito of the African Gospel Church (AGC) and women leaders from Bomet and Kericho Counties.