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Kenya Kwanza may not be an option for dithering Kalonzo

By Allan Mungai | May 25th 2022 | 4 min read
By Allan Mungai | May 25th 2022

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka when he named his running mate at the SKM Command Centre in Karen, Nairobi on Monday, May 16, 2022 [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The jury is still out on whether Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka will support ODM leader Raila Odinga’s candidature on August 9.

Yet as Mr Musyoka’s supporters ponder his next move, he has made it clear that joining Deputy President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance is not an option.

Majority of party aspirants from the former vice president’s lower Eastern region this week urged him to return to Azimio la Umoja One Kenya.

The former Mwingi North MP lost the running mate contest to Martha Karua of Narc Kenya.

Mr Musyoka snubbed the Chief Cabinet Secretary post Mr Odinga had promised him and instead announced his own bid for State House.

The value Mr Musyoka could offer to Kenya Kwanza is not lost on Dr Ruto, who has been courting him after signs emerged he was uneasy with backing Mr Odinga for the third time.

But if the Wiper leader has been coy to the advances of Mr Odinga and his allies, he has been assertive in his rejection of Dr Ruto.

At the Amani National Congress’ National Delegates Convention called in January to ratify party leader Musalia Mudavadi as the presidential nominee, Mr Musyoka and other leaders, including Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi, left the event after it became apparent that Dr Ruto would attend.

He has ignored advances by Mr Mudavadi, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and other Kenya Kwanza allies he had worked with for years before joining Dr Ruto.

The leaders have been vocal in their attempts to show Mr Musyoka supporters that their leader was being disrespected, especially when Azimion said all those aspiring for the running mate position must be interviewed.

Rejected advances

The DP wrote on Twitter: “Though we are competitors, to subject Kalonzo to some humiliating ‘interview’ is impunity. We must unite to eliminate the culture of political deceit, the hallmark of some politicians. Whatever the circumstances every leader deserves some dignity and respect. Heshima si utumwa.”

But Mr Musyoka was quick to dismiss the talk. “I’m hearing that UDA people are fighting for me… that I shouldn’t be subjected to the interviews. Let me tell them that I don’t want to be vouched for, especially by them. The party is being led by crooked people who want to take advantage of the developments in Azimio to court me to their side,” he said.

“I can’t, for any reason whatsoever, join UDA or Kenya Kwanza. My focus now is to work together with Raila Odinga to send them home. And they know that when Odinga and I are on the same side, our chance for victory is very high.”

Last year, there were reports that Ruto had attempted to reach out to the Wiper leader using two of his party MPs.

The report from Mr Musyoka’s camp then was that he was open to the discussion. Former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, who is UDA chairman, too also attempted to bring the two leaders to the table.

When he broke rank with Raila and the National Super Alliance (NASA) in 2019,  Muthama said he would steer coalition talks between the Dr Ruto and Mr Musyoka.

But is it too late for Mr Musyoka to join Kenya Kwanza on account of what will be offered to him?

Too late to the table

UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina thinks so. She said last week that while they welcomed Mr Musyoka, he had delayed his decision and the option of deputy president was no longer available.

“If he came in now he would have a chance to negotiate but definitely not on the top tier in terms of the presidential candidates and the deputy presidential candidate, those are already closed. Maybe at different levels,” said Ms Maina.

The deadline for naming running mates lapsed on May 16 and Dr Ruto picked Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua. The prime Cabinet Secretary slot has been promised to Mudavadi.

Yet by announcing his own bid for president, Mr Musyoka is looking for a bigger stake in both sides should the election go to a runoff

It would not be new should the two leaders work together.

Mr Musyoka and Dr Ruto briefly coalesced in 2012 under the KKK alliance, which also included Uhuru Kenyatta as they pursued a United Nations Security Council deferral of the charges against Mr Kenyatta and Dr Ruto at The Hague.

The alliance metamorphosed into the Group of Seven (G7) alliance where Kalonzo was seen as the compromise candidate in case Ruto and Uhuru were prevented from running.

But in recent days, Mr Musyoka has been relentless in labelling Dr Ruto unsuitable to occupy State House, and has insisted he had no interest in any association with him.

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