‘Forces of doom’ keen to scuttle our plans, say Kalonzo and Mudavadi

POLITICS |

Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka (right) flanked by ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi during the launch of his Presidential Secretariat at the Command Centre on August 9, 2021. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

“Forces of doom” have combined efforts to frustrate the One Kenya Alliance (OKA)’s political activities, and in particular, its co-principals’ presidential bids, former vice presidents Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi have said. 

Speaking separately to The Sunday Standard, the Wiper and Amani National Congress (ANC) leaders protested at what they considered gimmicks aimed at breaking up the outfit and portraying its leaders as non-starters in the presidential race.  

“What I can confirm is that there are forces of doom determined to sow seeds of discord within OKA. But the spirit of OKA is alive and our vision to unite this country for shared prosperity is even clearer today than when we first came together,” Kalonzo told this writer on phone from an undisclosed location overseas, where he is on a private visit.

Asked to elaborate on the “forces of doom” claim, Kalonzo only stated, “let those forces remain just that – forces of darkness and doom”.

Mudavadi similarly spoke of detractors who were keen on conditioning OKA principals “to a particular copycat way of doing things”. The ANC leader vowed that this time around he was not going “to walk into a deception”.

With barely nine months to the General Election, Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga have started blitz campaigns in key battleground regions, thereby leaving the two former VPs trapped and playing catch up.

It is a scenario that has given the impression that the August 9 presidential poll will be a two-horse race, but which the two separately maintain is a false narrative being propagated by the “forces of doom”.   

“The alleged lull by us is part of a wider scheme to portray OKA as running out of steam. We shall run our affairs according to our plan but not to satisfy a marking scheme developed by our detractors,” protests Kalonzo,  

And capturing his stand with the slogan, “my campaign, my pace”, Mudavadi says his supporters are fully aware that he is on the campaign trail: “I am not a copycat candidate who must do what others are doing. Maybe some quarters want to see us storm areas with massive rented crowds. OKA will not do that.”

Senators, Gideon Moi (Baringo) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford-Kenya) are the other OKA co-principals, with Gideon being the first among colleagues to be officially endorsed by his Kanu party to vie for presidency.  

And although Kalonzo and Mudavadi are cagey on the source of their current political hitches, some of their allies are vocal about it, including hinting at the identity of the “forces of doom”. Musalia’s spokesman, for instance, accuses government operatives for aiding the campaigns of rivals, Raila and Ruto.

“When Raila was doubting whether he will vie or not and not moving, it was because of uncertainty about State backing. It is now obvious he has acquired State largesse that conditions him to spend it in Mt Kenya. How that will translate into a Mt Kenya vote is not clear. For Ruto, he still enjoys all the stipends allocated to the DP’s office and lacks for nothing. Both are therefore illegally spending public taxes on personal campaigns and should not be glorified,” says Kabatesi.

Mudavadi’s spokesman further cautions President Uhuru Kenyatta that if the “discretionary State support” is meant to force OKA to support Raila, his strategy will flop: “It is in fact emboldening OKA and other dissenters to join the outfit. The elections may turn out to be the President’s candidate versus the rest”.

Nonetheless, The Sunday Standard has separately established that activity has been scaled down at the OKA secretariat. According to one source, who declined to be named for fear of being reprimanded, there is barely any activity on the cards nowadays, “the last being the engagement of the principals with the Mt Kenya Foundation at Safari Park”, two weeks ago. According to the OKA official, most the political engagements are currently held in various hotels by individual party leaders: “There is absolutely no synergy in their efforts as everyone is pulling in their direction. Very little is happening at the moment.”

Although in public they portray an impression of harmony and arriving at a win-win formula of identifying a flag bearer and running mate, insiders divulge that OKA is deeply divided, especially between the former VPs who are regarded as the outfit’s political bigwigs – on the flag bearer question. Within OKA, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua points out that Kalonzo is under obligation from his party and his political base to present himself for the position of President in next year’s polls. A similar position is held by Wambua’s Kakamega counterpart, Cleophas Malala, who insists on pushing the Mudavadi presidential bid “all the way to the ballot”.

There is also the Mt Kenya factor, which totally complicates the presidential ticket equation. Presently, the team’s ticket can only feature Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Wetang’ula and Gideon in whichever order, a factor that locks out the populous Mount Kenya region – currently the most sought-after political bride. And even if a politician from region gets on board, it is unlikely that the big boys in OKA will agree to play peripheral roles.

In the meantime, sources with Raila’s ODM indicate the former premier is keen on working with the OKA leaders and has privately been wooing them. Only last month, Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma exemplified this desire when he publicly pleaded with Mudavadi to regroup with his party boss: “Wewe omwami ni ndugu ya Baba, Baba loves you. Baba’s people love you, Rudi nyumbani (You are Raila’s brother and Raila’s followers love you. Come back home and support his presidential bid)”.

Raila has reportedly been courting Mudavadi and Kalonzo, while at the same time campaigning aggressively in their strongholds. Terming it a “Negotiate While Advancing” strategy, political analyst Arthur Odera reveals the ploy is commonly used by individuals who enjoy some advantage over competitors.  

According to the former Teso North MP, wooing while taking the battle to would-be allies has given the former Premier leverage in the ongoing negotiations. The ploy, according to Odera, seems to be working perfectly.

“By all indications, either the truth about their own separate remote chances of clinching the presidency is dawning on them, or they are waiting for the consummation of their marriage to either Raila or Ruto,” opines Odera.  

But noting that OKA is the only political alliance in the country at the moment, Wambua maintains they will not play second fiddle to other players: “Within the first one month of OKA’s direct engagement with the electorate, we shall be the alliance to beat in 2022. And this is not idle talk. I know what I am talking about”.

And in the event OKA principals fail to agree, Odera opines the idea of running separately has its advantages as well as it could necessitate a runoff, in which case Mudavadi and Kalonzo can offer the swing vote to the eventual winner for worthy political gains: “Good for democracy, but devastating to the economy. But their survival instinct and that of their close mouthpieces will be more about keeping their respective constituencies behind them and remaining politically relevant”.

Indeed, Mudavadi is already charting his own political path – thanks to his overtures towards other players, including Narc-Kenya’s Martha Karua: “Aspirants are talking with each other as the election momentum gathers. These conversations may be public as we did with Martha or remain private,” confesses Mudavadi.

He also maintains that OKA is still alive and active. “As long as OKA remains an ongoing conversation, there will be an opportune moment as dictated by the IEBC timelines when we meet as a collective and reveal our claws”.

 The ANC leader says he has been testing the ground, in the form of public participation, to get a feel of the issues that matter to Kenyans most. 

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