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Kalonzo must ensure a divided Wiper party doesn't fell NASA

By Prof Makau Mutua | Published Sun, June 18th 2017 at 00:00, Updated June 17th 2017 at 21:21 GMT +3
Kalonzo Musyoka

The National Super Alliance (NASA) is “national” and “super” largely because Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka agreed to be its candidate for Deputy President under ODM’s Raila Odinga. Raila and Kalonzo are now fused at the hip like Siamese twins. The two are conjoined – and any attempt to separate them will kill both. They will either go State House together, or live in the political wilderness apart. As American thinker and statesman Benjamin Franklin famously opined, they “must indeed all hang together, or they will most assuredly, hang separately.” Theirs is a full marriage – consummated in public – without an exit, or divorce. That’s why they must make it work, or be harshly condemned by history.

Kalonzo made NASA work, and he’s a key pillar. But there isn’t a shortage of ways in which Kalonzo and his Wiper brigade – loyalists and renegades – can put NASA asunder. Jubilee, the side opposite, is salivating and licking its chops waiting for Wiper to unravel. I am not telling the man from Tseikuru anything he doesn’t know. Kalonzo knows every blade of grass in the vast Ukambani region – where his base is concentrated – and other Wiper pockets around the country. As the captain of the Wiper ship, Kalonzo must stamp his authority on the party while being democratic and open. That’s the only way he remains a commanding asset – and not a liability – to NASA.

Anxious to catch up

Let’s take a ledger of Wiper and see where the fault lines might lie. First, Kalonzo is still the political supremo in Ukambani. It’s true Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua – he of the Maendeleo Chap Chap infamy – has tried to eat into Kalonzo’s real estate. But Dr Mutua, a quisling if there was ever one, is a political boy in a hurry. He’s anxious to catch up with the men. But babies that try to chew solid food before they are ready can choke to death. Dr Mutua, a Jubilee apologist and a Wiper turncoat, risks a premature political death. Machakos Wiper gubernatorial candidate Wavinya Ndeti is likely to eat Dr Mutua’s lunch early on August 8.

This is where Kalonzo comes in. He must not – can’t afford – to give Dr Mutua any breathing room. He must politically crush him in the best democratic tradition by campaigning vigorously for Ms Ndeti. Nor can Kalonzo allow any of Dr Mutua’s acolytes and Jubilee sleepers under the false guise of Maendeleo Chap Chap a single dose of oxygen. In military terms, Kalonzo must deal Dr Mutua a total and complete defeat. This is critical if NASA is to do well in Machakos. Failure to put Dr Mutua to pasture will spell doom for Kalonzo’s future political career on the national stage. This is my advice – Machakos is ground zero for NASA and Kalonzo.

Machakos is important for Kalonzo, Wiper, and more importantly NASA, for a different reason. Senator Johnstone Muthama – a man not known to mince his words – has lately had a restive relationship with Kalonzo. He won’t defend his senatorial seat and has threatened to quit Wiper altogether. Whatever the reasons – and we must remember Kalonzo and Mr Muthama go way back – the kerfuffle between them could be a deadly nail in NASA’s coffin. It’s not a secret Mr Muthama is Raila’s confidant. This should be an asset to NASA, not a liability. That’s why Kalonzo and Mr Muthama must genuinely bury their hatchet. They hate Jubilee more than they hate each other. Raila is key to their rapprochement.

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Kalonzo doesn’t want Mr Muthama stoking fires in Ukambani. Nor should Mr Muthama do so unless he believes NASA isn’t a viable option against Jubilee. I am sure Mr Muthama will work his tail off for a Raila victory. He and Kalonzo must sing from the same script. Mr Muthama’s anti-Kalonzo dalliance with disaffected Wiper leaders – like Senator David Musila of Kitui or the confused and erratic Minority Leader Francis Nyenze – isn’t good for NASA. While Mr Musila has every right to run as an independent for the Kitui gubernatorial seat, Mr Muthama is duty bound to support the NASA candidate incumbent Governor Julius Malombe. That’s why Kalonzo needs to repair his relationship with Mr Muthama. Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana can be a bridge-builder. He’s a self-less democrat who commands deep and broad respect.

Kalonzo must make sure a divided Wiper doesn’t fell NASA. Wiper, NASA’s strongest link, shouldn’t become its weakest link. Kalonzo needs to kill the mini-Jubilee insurrection in his backyard. On August 8, if NASA is to sweep Makueni, Kitui, and Machakos, Kalonzo must make sure not a single person running on Jubilee, or its proxies, is even elected MCA.

- The writer is SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of KHRC. @makaumutua.