Unpacking Kalonzo Musyoka and why his ties with Raila run deep

To Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, it is important that people who have hurt him acknowledge doing so.

This search for an admission made the former vice president call a press conference at his party’s offices in Karen on Tuesday and produce a sheaf of papers laying out a power-sharing pact with ODM leader Raila Odinga, his partner in the defunct National Super Alliance.

Kalonzo, flanked by party members, asserted his right to Raila's support in his State House bid.

In 2017, said Kalonzo, he had agreed to support Raila on the condition that he would reciprocate in 2022, whether their coalition clinched power.

The 2022 election is here and Kalonzo is demanding his pound of flesh. To ask Raila to drop his own bid in favour of Kalonzo's, especially at a time when Raila has received President Uhuru Kenyatta's backing and can almost see himself in State House, is to demand the impossible.

Kalonzo placed a condition on his talks with Azimio la Umoja, the coalition party bringing together Raila’s ODM and President Kenyatta’s Jubilee.

Raila is a firm favourite to be Azimio’s presidential candidate, but Kalonzo, who is working on having his One Kenya Alliance formally join Azimio, said if that coalition takes shape, his candidature should take precedence over Raila’s. There is a contract to which Raila agreed to the arrangement, he said.

"Raila should just endorse me," Kalonzo said in interviews with KTN News and NTV later in the day. "He has two options, adhere to the agreement or defy it."

But his proclamation is not really a threat to Raila. He said regardless of what the former Prime Minister decided, he would still work with him.

That speech was Kalonzo’s parody of himself.

In one sentence he issued an ultimatum that Raila must drop his bid and support him, in the next he said it did not mean they won't work together.

One instant he said OKA was in the Azimio movement, a moment later he said the discussions with Azimio had to be based on the 2017 document.

Kalonzo has lamented often that he was called names such as ‘indecisive’ but with the new revelations is attempting to recast himself as a victim of politics.

The upshot of his statement was that Raila had made a promise he never intended to keep and that he was right that the ODM leader could not be trusted.

“I will sleep very well tonight because I have told Kenyans what they need to know," he said.

Gnawing at the back of Kalonzo’s mind is a statement he made last year where he said he would be the ‘stupidest man’ if he supported Raila for a third time.

In November 2021, Kalonzo's Wiper Party endorsed him to run for office. However, there have been no real signs that he intends to run. Rather, the lean has been towards forming a coalition and support one of their own.

The former VP is also one of the front runners in OKA. Analysts say Kalonzo's demeanour has been that of a man denying reality – that he was on his way back to supporting Raila’s ticket.

When the press conference ended he told some flustered journalists: “You have a lot to unpack.”

And there was a lot to unpack.

The ramifications of Kalonzo's statement began the same day when Narc Kenya, one of the affiliate parties in OKA, said they needed more time to study the coalition agreement before committing to it.

But does Kalonzo’s pushing forward with his affairs with Raila complicate the equation for OKA?

Yesterday, OKA postponed the signing of the coalition agreement to early next week, citing legal issues. 

But whether he has boxed himself or Raila into a corner, is yet to be seen.

The governors from Kalonzo’s base in Eastern Kenya believe he is taking the region in circles.

Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana said the agreement could not have been implemented since Raila did not win the election.

"Hence the two most critical terms of the agreement were frustrated by turn of events,” he said.

Kibwana, as well as Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and Kitui's Charity Ngilu are aligned with Raila and have been swaying Kalonzo in the same direction. 

Tom Mboya, a political analyst said it was difficult to bind someone to an MoU and could not see how Kalonzo would have Raila honour it.