NASA may go into the 2022 elections a divided house as individual ambition and personal achievement threaten to derail the Opposition coalition’s initial vow of presenting a united front and fight for electoral justice.
At different times over the past few weeks, the principals have publicly and privately admitted to giving in to the allure of another stab at the presidency, with none of the four willing to play second fiddle to another, it has emerged.
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Sunday Standard has learned that although the four NASA principals Raila Odinga (ODM), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Bungoma senator Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) had insisted on their unity, each had begun putting their parties together as they train their eyes on the presidency.
Just hours after putting up a show of unity at Orange House during ODM’s National Governing Council meeting with Raila and Mudavadi, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka hosted a group of Kamba leaders at a private meeting at his Yatta farm where they agreed to chart a way forward for the community.
In the meeting attended by Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama and a number of MPs from Kitui, Machakos and Makueni, it was agreed that a “major forum for the Kamba nation to meet and chart their political destiny” will be held on March 16.
The meeting, to be hosted by Muthama at Komarock, will be preceded by a series of preparatory rallies in the three counties before a major gathering of 10,000 delegates in Nairobi.
While Raila, Mudavadi and Musyoka were at Orange House in Nairobi assuring their supporters that the foundations of the NASA house were as solid as ever, Ford-Kenya’s Wetang’ula was in Kitale telling supporters that he will be on the ballot in 2022.
Speaking at Kitale ASK Showground during prayers for Governor Patrick Khaemba following the validation of his victory by the High Court, Wetang’ula said he is reaching out to Western counties to mobilise resources.
“My name will be on the ballot paper in 2022. I’m optimistic that I will be endorsed as NASA’s flag bearer and eventual winner of the 2022 presidential race,” he told the gathering.
Ironically, Wetang’ula maintained that NASA is intact and dismissed those claiming the coalition is weak and divided. “Let us unite as Ford Kenya and NASA family. I’m assuring our supporters that my co-principals and I are united and ready to take power and transform the lives of Kenyans,” he said.
But it is Mudavadi who first indicated two weeks ago that his focus had gone beyond the political fights by NASA to the 2022 contest. The ANC leader hosted Luhya leaders led by Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) leader Francis Atwoli where he told them he was going for nothing short of the presidency in 2022.
“The 2022 election will be different from what happened in 2017. I assure you that I will carry the mantle,” Mudavadi told the elders.
In the Nairobi meeting, Raila said there was a possibility that ODM would go it alone should the unity of the coalition become elusive. This was a clear indication that Raila, who has contested and lost the presidency four times, could be preparing for another stab at the age of 77. “We must be ready anytime as a party to fight it together with our colleagues, but even if we are alone,” Raila told the party NGC delegates.
During the meeting, the three principals dismissed reports of cracks in the coalition.
“I hear people saying Wiper is fighting with ODM, ANC and Ford Kenya. We are like a normal home setting where disputes are bound to happen. That doesn’t mean NASA is crumbling,” Raila said.
Confirming the political heat within the coalition, Raila said what was happening in NASA are friendly fires akin to issues in marriage.
“Those who have a wife will tell you it is not happiness every day, there are always differences. The same is happening in NASA, we may differ but that does not mean our house is crumbling,” Raila said.
It is however Kalonzo’s fired salvo that painted a clear picture of the fracture in the coalition. The Wiper leader told the gathering that as principals they needed to be respected because any foul mouthing of the coalition’s leaders would not help the situation.
This could have been an apparent response to Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho’s thinly veiled attack on him and Mudavadi. “Many of us in ODM have a feeling of dissatisfaction following recent events. As leaders in NASA, we have to stop being selfish and do away with con men in our coalition since the struggle is real. We need to sacrifice and stop being cowards,” said Joho amid cheers.
Back to the Yatta meeting, Kalonzo was asked to consult widely with clergy, opinion and elected leaders from the three counties of Machakos, Makueni and Kitui before charting the course for the community.
But the fissure that begun to with the absence of Mudavadi, Kalonzo and Wetang’ula during the swearing in of Raila as the people’s president, has been widened by accusation and counter accusation from the principals’ lieutenants.
As a party, NASA continues to walk a tight rope, cautiously walking towards a make or break 2022.