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The imperial VP with a shortlived career

By | March 1st 2009

Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya’s tenth vice-president, is unlikely to endure a fall from grace so bruising as his fifth counterpart, Dr Josephat Karanja did 20, years ago. The diminutive Kiambu politician, Kuria Kanyingi, was the draftsman, if not the actual architect, of Karanja’s woes. Kanyingi accused Karanja of acting "like a small god in heaven, demanding that politicians kneel before him, and claiming he was "both acting (when Moi was away) and president-in-waiting of Kenya."

On April 25, 1989, another David versus Goliath (David Mwenje versus Josephat Karanja) duel took place on the floor of Parliament, after the Embakasi MP rose under Standing Order No 20 and told the Speaker, late Moses arap Keino, a ‘No Confidence’ motion be passed against the VP.

The bell had tolled for Karanja, and four days later, the death knell sounded on his political career with the passing of the motion. There was to be one nasty footnote, however. In October 1990, a year and a half after his ouster, Karanja spoke out for multi-partyism. Retorted President Daniel arap Moi: "Karanja should shut up. After all he made history (by) being vice president." The referred to vice presidency had lasted all of thirteen months, a short record only Musalia Mudavadi would surpass by being VP for three months in the twilight of the year 2002.

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