Sorry Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenyan voters do not owe you anything


Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka talks to Standard about the Kibaki he knew. [Samson Wire. Standard]


Two things increasingly define this year’s general election. First, there is the ego trip. Second is the absence of agenda beyond that. Nobody embodies this better than Wiper Democratic Movement’s Kalonzo Musyoka. Yet he is not alone. Solipsism is the theme of this year’s election.

In religion and philosophy, solipsism is the notion that you are the centre of the universe. Only you matter. The universe can be known only because you exist. Taken into environments where others exist, people are only objects to fulfil your appetites, your desires and whims. You are unable to see the bigger picture in the interest of the collective community. Hence team goals are pursued from the perspective, “What is in it for me?” 

Kalonzo has been on the barnstorms, telling Kenyans that he has sacrificed a lot for the country. We now owe him something great. On 10 January 2008 President Mwai Kibaki appointed him his Vice President in what was called “a part of the Cabinet.” The Wiper leader says accepting this appointment was a great sacrifice, “because it united the country.”

There are those who think that it widened the rift between those who thought that the 2007 election had been stolen, and those who were thought to have stolen it. Kalonzo had run for President on the ODM Kenya ticket and came third, behind Kibaki and ODM’s Raila Odinga. Ongoing violence intensified across the country as a result of the naming of the Cabinet. Some saw Kalonzo as the beneficiary of a stolen election. ODM chiefs accused him of wicked opportunism.  

On two other occasions, Kalonzo was Raila Odinga’s running mate, in the 2013 and 2017 presidential races. Again, this was a big sacrifice. Now, he says, he is ready to sacrifice again, to be Raila's running mate for the third time. If not so, there will be unknown consequences for the Azimio la Umoja formation that both belong to. A little earlier, he said he would be “the most stupid man, in the whole world, to support Raila for the third time.”

Ego trips and selfish agendas are made of this. Political teams are normally chosen because they stand for something you believe in. You offer yourself for internal competition in the team, because you share in the vision. You, however, consider yourself well-placed to lead. 

If the team chooses a different leader, however, you still remain in the camp. You give your very best in subsequent campaigns against other teams. Yet this is absent, not just in the case of Kalonzo and his Wiper brigade in Azimio. It is absent almost everywhere. Selfish threats and public catcalls, that such-and-such an individual must be the running mate, abound.

“This is the minimum we can take,” you keep hearing.

If the running mate is the minimum you can take, what is the maximum? Are you saying that you want the presidential ticket? Then why not just run, yourself?  Elsewhere, there has been a galore of resignations from parties by individuals who want to run for various offices as independents. They have thrown mud at their former parties, after being edged out in the primaries. Some were defeated, others cheated.

For whatever reason they have decamped, you have not heard any public-spirited explanation. In any event, there was none from the outset. This election campaign is a free-for-all political orgy. It has no agenda beyond dreams of personal greatness. It has malformed into a cobweb of self-styled celebrities, comedians, clowns and sundry confidence artists. All they seem to talk of is “me.”

A nation sits in a poor place amidst such a narrow focus on the self. Leadership is not childish self-propagating showbiz. Some of the babies we have seen on national TV, literally crying for party tickets, are to be pitied.

So, too, is anyone who thinks that the election must be about him, or her. It is not. It is about nearly 50 million Kenyans. This is the time for true patriots to stand up. We shall know them by their actions. 

Dr Muluka is a strategic communications advisor