Is President Uhuru Kenyatta secretly grooming Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka to succeed him after his term expires in 2022? Some leaders who attended a closed-door meeting on Tuesday called by Musyoka at his Yatta farm believe the former vice-president might be Kenyatta’s chosen successor.
The leaders are convinced Kalonzo “ranks high” in Kenyatta’s succession game-plan, and might be chosen as the presidential candidate or the running mate for Kenyatta’s preferred candidate.
They claim the Central Kenya “power base” seems to have warmed up to Kalonzo after his decision to join hands with Kenyatta.
Although ODM leader Raila Odinga “joined” the Government earlier than Kalonzo through a handshake deal with the president, Kalonzo allies say Odinga was brought in to “manage” Deputy President William Ruto and scuttle his presidential efforts.
The Wiper Party insiders claim once Odinga accomplishes this task, it will be possible for the President and his men to smoothly execute his succession plan.
The presence of David Murathe, the former vice-chairman of Jubilee party during the Yatta meeting was quite telling.
Murathe styles himself as a man who communicates the President’s mind and his feelings, although some even in Jubilee have dismissed him as a rabble-rouser. He is, however, a revered power broker.
In a calculated speech, Murathe narrated the political history between the Kamba and Kikuyu communities, dating back to first President Jomo Kenyatta and Kamba kingpin at the time Paul Ngei. He said he had been “sent” to gauge whether or not the community was united or whether the bickering caused by rebel governors Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui) had fractured Kalonzo’s hold in his backyard.
“You have seen me step aside after my phone rang. I am being asked how the ground is.... From what I have seen, you people are together,” Murathe told the meeting.
He then went ahead to explain how Central Kenya was willing to pay Kalonzo his “debt” of stabilising retired President Mwai Kibaki’s government after violence broke out following the disputed 2007 presidential election. Kalonzo was then appointed vice-president by Kibaki, leaving the Opposition in disarray.
In his speech, the Wiper leader left nothing to imagination that he was willing to do Kenyatta’s bidding if only to catch his eye for support in 2022.
“We must keep our eyes on the ball. God has given me the gift of seeing far and I have looked at this journey and realised without Uhuru we cannot get to the destination. With him on our side, we will be there by morning,” Kalonzo said, alluding to his presidential bid. He said going forward, himself and the president would be “like Siamese twins”.
Insiders within Wiper party say that Kalonzo’s dalliance with the president has caused jitters within ODM leadership who feel that they are the rightful “handshakers”.
“ODM is very bitter with this relationship between Wiper and Jubilee. They feel that Kalonzo is just an appendage to the handshake deal and should not be given much space,” said a Wiper MP who asked for anonymity because he is not allowed to speak on behalf of the party.
He said some of the tale-tell signs that Kalonzo and his party might be benefiting more from the handshake is the general perception, even within ODM, that Jubilee party is leaning towards the candidature of Julius Mawathe (Wiper) for the forthcoming by-election in Embakasi South, Nairobi. Mawathe will face off with Irshad Sumra of ODM.
The MP, however, advised Kalonzo not to bank so much on the Central Kenya support for his presidential bid, describing it as fluid. He advised him to consolidate his support base and make alliances with other leaders across the country.
“If the president decides to support us for 2022, that would be very good. But we should be prepared so that even if he doesn’t, we are not caught by surprise,” the legislator said.
Kalonzo’s decision to join hands with Kenyatta through his “errand boy declaration” also seems to have brought him curious supporters. One of them is Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai (Jubilee) who graced the Yatta event.
Mbai delivered “greetings and apology” from another Jubilee legislator Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South) who has been a harsh critic of Musyoka.
Showed up at the meeting
He was categorical on why he showed up at the meeting.
“Let us not lie to ourselves, Kalonzo is still the kingpin of the Kamba nation. I might have had issues with him when he was working with Raila but when he declared to work with President Kenyatta, who is my party leader, I decided to come back home,” Mbai said in an interview with our sister TV station, KTN.
He likened the three “rebel” Ukambani governors to “drunken children within a family”, saying they will sober up in due course.
“Their rebellion in Ukambani won’t affect Kalonzo’s votes at the national level. The Kamba community in and outside Ukambani will still vote for Kalonzo,” he said.