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Moses Wetangula, Kalonzo Musyoka can rest easy; they delivered as they promised

Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula and Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka during a past event. [Dennis Kavisu, Standard]

In the 2022 presidential election, two people distinguished themselves by delivering votes as promised and were probably responsible for the close and almost indecisive poll outcome.

With the Supreme Court looking into the subsequent dispute over who did not win, there is no dispute over whether Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula delivered the 250,000 Bukusu votes to William Ruto to win Bungoma County. Similarly, there is no dispute over Kalonzo Musyoka delivering roughly 800,000 Kamba votes to Raila Odinga.

The two men, nurtured in Daniel arap Moi’s brand of Kanu politics in the 1980s and 1990s, are old hands in government. They subsequently blended into multi-party politics through an assortment of political parties.

Early in 2022, they became 'One-Kenya' buddies along with Martha Karua of Nark-Kenya and ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi whose objective was to provide a serious third alternative to Ruto and Raila. They all failed and went their separate ways into the two main camps. Mudavadi and Weta joined Ruto to create Kenya Kwanza. Karua and Kalonzo went to Uhuru-Raila’s Azimio and seemingly started jostling for proximity to Raila. Since Kalonzo dilly-dallied, he found Karua comfortably settled in the deputy president slot.

Weta and Kalonzo nurse presidential ambitions but they luck political magnetism beyond their home zones and have had checkered experiences on the way to leadership. Kalonzo has had to ward off would be Ukambani challengers such as Charity Ngilu, Alfred Mutua and Kivutha Kibwana. On his part, Weta rose above Muskari Kombo, Mukhisa Kituyi, Eugene Wamalwa, and Wafula Wamunyinyi to emerge the undisputed leader among the Bukusu.

In 2007, Kombo and Kituyi had succeeded in defeating each other, thereby leaving Weta alone in the field. He joined the Nasa losing side in 2017, and landed a post as Leader of Minority in the National Assembly only to end up as a victim of what appeared like a ‘handshake’ leadership shake-up. He lost the post to Siaya Senator James Orengo, a Raila man. Bitter at Raila for orchestrating his ouster, Weta vowed a messy ‘divorce’ from Raila’s armpit and gravitated towards Ruto’s growing camp, full of unhappy former Uhuru defenders.

By joining Ruto, Weta separated from Kalonzo who took his time to make up his mind on which side he would fall. In part, His Ukambani leadership rivals in Raila’s camp taunted him, claiming he was waiting for the right inducement. Demanding that Raila endorse him, he made memorable comments about being the most stupid man on earth if he joined Raila again.

He changed position and then bargained hard to be Raila’s running mate only to lose it to Karua who had Uhuru’s backing. After some discussions, Kalonzo entered the Uhuru/Raila Azimio camp, claiming that his political mission was to defeat Ruto. In turn, this enabled Mutua to shift from Raila to Ruto.

The predictions were that the 2022 election would be too close to call - and it was, which made Weta’s and Kalonzo’s ability to mobilise and deliver zonal votes critical. When Raila expressed frustration that his supposed Bunguma stronghold was slipping away, Weta looked good because he was delivering. On his part, Kalonzo worked hard to stamp his authority and to slow Ruto in Ukambani - and he did.

The official election results changed the political climate; disappointment for Raila and jubilation for Ruto. There followed political realignment as leaders, shifted allegiance to Ruto. This shift strengthens Ruto’s in spirit and in Parliament. Several petitions landed in the Supreme Court challenging the election process, violent conduct at Bomas, and the outcome.

While the country waits to hear what the Supreme Court decides, Weta and Kalonzo can relax knowing that they delivered. While Weta will probably become the Speaker of the National Assembly, Kalonzo might find something befitting when the political dust settles.