NASA leader Raila Odinga’s surprise move to close ranks with his political nemesis Uhuru Kenyatta caught his co-principals and Deputy President William Ruto flat-footed.
NASA co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula said they “saw in the media” the meeting between the two scions of Kenya’s independence heroes - Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
And while they watched their television sets to hear every word, Ruto was watching the leaders address the nation from the window of his Harambee Annex office. Nobody invited him and nobody alerted him.
They were all taken aback but there was nothing they could do.
“Congratulations President Uhuru and Raila for being statesmen. You have risen to the moment for Kenya and against hate, negative ethnicity and division. The unity, stability and transformation of Kenya supersedes all other partisan interests,” Ruto tweeted what he could have said had he been present.
He added a cheeky rider in Swahili: “Wangwana mubarikiwe mpaka mshangae.” (May you be blessed to the point of disbelief).
But while the DP was embracing the turn of events, the NASA trio were unable to come to terms with the events of the day. In a joint statement issued as reactions swelled on the surprise Harambee Office meeting, they confessed that they were not just unaware of the meeting but that they were also not privy to the discussions.
They said the push for dialogue was a NASA call and fell short of chastising their comrade for side-stepping them. As such, they said, they have scheduled a meeting with Raila to catch-up with his move.
“The four NASA co-principals have, however, scheduled a retreat on March 12 when we shall deliberate on the political developments,” their statement said.
For two months, the three have borne the brunt of opposition supporters for skipping the January 30 event where Raila was crowned “The peoples President.” Their narrative has been that they were tricked into missing the event.
When we spoke to Kalonzo yesterday, he sounded calm and collected in the face of disappointment with the man he had stood with over two difficult elections. Waxing diplomatic, he did not drop his guard.
“The scheduled Monday meeting offers us the opportunity to discuss all this and put these matters into perspective. Those who have eyes can see and who have ears can hear. I leave the matter at that and look forward to Monday,” Kalonzo said. But even as the three couched their reactions with caution, their henchmen were talking of betrayal most foul and trust trampled on.
“Even the courtesy to inform his running mate, for heaven sake! He failed even in the most simple task of informing his colleagues,” a close Kalonzo ally told the Saturday Standard. Others described the move as “political conmanship”.
In the face of criticism for skipping the swearing-in, Wiper, ANC and Ford Kenya had severally threatened to bolt out of the coalition.
Yesterday, Ruto’s allies Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, MPs Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Julius Melly (Tinderet), Caleb Kositany (Soy) congratulated Uhuru and Raila over the talks which they said will unite the country.
The leaders also urged supporters not to read too much politics in the unity. They said Uhuru represented Jubilee as its party leader and that Deputy President William Ruto’s absence should not be an issue.
“People should not read too much into politics. Our strategy for 2022 is intact. This should not worry anyone even our supporters,” said Mr Kutuny when asked about Ruto’s absence during the meeting.