National Super Alliance (NASA) principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang'ula yesterday came under intense pressure from Opposition leaders and supporters to explain their “betrayal” of Raila Odinga as anxiety mounted over their security.
The NASA presidential running mate in last year’s elections, Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya party chief Moses Wetang'ula were put on the spot for skipping Tuesday’s 'swearing-in' of Raila at Uhuru Park as the 'people’s president.'
The three met in Kalonzo’s Karen home yesterday, following a night attack by unknown people who lobbed a stun hand grenade and fired two shots in the air. The attack left the former vice president too shaken to address journalists.
When the leaders meet with Raila today, as the media has been told, the trio’s absence from Uhuru Park will be among key issues in talks that will take stock of the impact of the NASA leader’s oath.
Speaking at Kalonzo’s residence, Mudavadi said: “The NASA summit, which includes our leader Raila, will meet today or latest tomorrow and thereafter issue a joint statement on the way forward. We are an integral part of NASA and anyone saying that we have left is practising cheap politics."
Wetang’ula and his deputy, former Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale, also reiterated that they were in NASA to stay.
“Let our supporters give us time. By end of Friday, they will get answers to what is happening,” Wetang’ula said.
Khalwale said Ford-Kenya was still in NASA and would continue to fight for change in the country.
“We are prepared and we will continue to fight for the Constitution. I stand by sentiments made by my party leader. Swearing in Raila is a step ahead in furthering our agenda,” he said.
However, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala yesterday asked the three to declare whether they were still in NASA or not.
Orange Democratic Movement party Chairman John Mbadi, who is also the National Assembly Leader of Minority, and MPs Jared Okello (Nyando) and Caleb Amisi (Saboti) were more blunt, asking Raila to review his relationship with the three leaders.
The MPs likened the boycott to a case of four brothers going to battle only for three to abandon one to face the enemy alone.
Mr Mbadi described the three principals as cowards who abandoned Raila and thousands of their supporters.
“There is no cure for a coward... coward will remain a coward. Those who were brave enough made it to Uhuru Park,” said Mbadi.
Mr Okello said they would not buy any excuses being advanced by the leaders. He said if it was true they were detained, they would have communicated to be rescued.
“We want to express our utmost disappointment with the three NASA principals who skipped Raila’s oath. There is no explanation that can convince us that their absence was warranted. We will push our leadership to redefine our relationship with them,” said Okello.
“This was a case of four brothers preparing for battle but when they got to the battlefield, they fled and left one of them alone in the hands of the enemy. Raila may have to get new brothers to transact business with.”
ODM is further pushing for a review of sharing parliamentary slots in a move seen to target Wetang’ula, who was handed the Senate minority leader position despite his party having only one Senate position.
Mr Malala said the leaders' decision to skip the event had eroded their political clout in the Opposition’s perceived strongholds.
“We want to give them time to explain to us why they skipped the event because we need to know whether they are still in NASA. Mudavadi and Wetang’ula must read the mood of the country. It is big step backward for their political gains,” said Malala.
He said Kalonzo’s boycott had cost him 2022 since he had no moral authority to ask Raila to back him when he could not stand with him to the last hour.
“Kalonzo cannot tell us about 2022 when he could not stand with Raila at the time he needed him most,” he said, adding that Kenyans should remain steadfast with Raila.
But Mudavadi, through his private secretary Kibisu Kabetesi, said the private meeting at a Karen hotel would chart the way forward for the coalition.
“All the principals have agreed to have a private talk and agree how they will move ahead. From there they will come out to address people,” said Mr Kabetesi.
He said the absence of the three leaders at Uhuru Park was not an idle or cowardly decision as many supporters were being made to believe by Jubilee Party propaganda.
“Their absence was a tactical manoeuvre by the Summit following credible intelligence of horrendous plans by the State to cripple NASA leaders at that venue. It was therefore prudently agreed that NASA principals, whose security had already been withdrawn, shouldn’t congregate in one place at the same time."
According to Kabatesi, the Jubilee government started putting its “heinous plans” into motion, including the incident at Kalonzo’s home (see related story), the arrest of Ruraka MP TJ Kajwang and the proscribing of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).
However police discounted claims that Kalonzo, Wetang'ula and Mudavadi were under house arrest during the 'swearing-in' ceremony.
Police said they were not aware the three were under house arrest on Tuesday as claimed.
“It is not true and he was not under house arrest,” said a police officer.
He added that he was not aware of such an action by the police but said it was highly unlikely, terming the assertions by the leaders political.
On the withdrawal of Opposition leaders’ security, the officer said he had no concrete information about the matter. He also said he was not aware whether Kalonzo's security detail had been reinstated following the Tueday night attack on his home.
“I am not aware and I have not seen any policeman in his compound but I will be able to tell when I am back in the office and have contacted the authorities,” he said.
The leaders' fears were however vindicated by the arrest of Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang as he left court yesterday.
Wiper MPs Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East) and Julius Mawathe (Embakasi South) came to the defence of their party leader and dismissed claims by some of their colleagues, asking them to give the Opposition leaders time to explain what led them to skip the event.
Ms Mbalu said Kalonzo had been for the 'swearing-in' and would be sworn in as the 'deputy people’s president' at a later date as was said by Raila.
In Kakamega County, local politicians Reuben Ombima (Vihiga) and Habil Nanjendo took issue with Mudavadi and Wetang’ula for snubbing the Uhuru Park event.
“They are a big disappointment to the supporters of NASA and by extension Western region. Their political careers have been badly dented,” said Mr Nanjendo.
Mr Ombima said the two leaders owed Kenyans an explanation about what made them stay away from NASA ‘big day’.
“I don’t see them making a comeback in the political arena. People have lost faith in them given their past political history,” added Ombima.
“Being arrested and incarcerated would have given them both political mileage ahead of 2022,” he added.
The leaders now want Raila to groom Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Kakamega counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya to take over the mantle from him.
[Moses Nyamori, Jacob Ngetich, Cyrus Ombati, Protus Onyango and John Shilitsa]