The conduct of the by-election in ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Kibra political ‘bedroom’ has thrust in the open the cold reality of a half-dead ruling party and an opposition alliance in the verge of burial.
In its aftermath, the confusion in Jubilee and NASA was laid bare in the eyes of its leadership, clearly indicating the urgency of confronting the disorder and restlessness that has been brewing within the two formations for the past two years.
Analysts now say the old political order may have been buried in “bedroom politics” and that the coming days will herald new formations which will define the 2022 succession battles.
While Raila’s hitherto allies - Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula - struck different chords in Kibra, Jubilee’s top leader Uhuru Kenyatta never stepped in the constituency and some of his allies closed ranks with Raila’s winning candidate, Imran Okoth.
As Raila attracted new allies - Governors Alfred Mutua, Charity Ngilu, Anne Waiguru, Kivutha Kibwana - it is emerging that the DP has been eyeing Musyoka, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula.
“The machinery has been tested. This is the death of NASA and Jubilee. Next, we will be seeing new coalitions and formations with new political think-tanks and machinery,” said political analyst Martin Oloo yesterday.
During the campaigns, ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna was categorical that they would bury NASA after the by-election. Describing allies as leeches, parasites and baggage, they traded barbs with erstwhile political bosom buddies giving every indication that they had moved on. During the barbs between ODM and ANC, Wiper leaders were warming up to Ruto’s team seeking a long term partnership. With the blessings of their man, the Wiper leaders met Ruto’s team in Weston and Upper Hill on several occassions.
Kitui Central MP Makali Muli yesterday told Saturday Standard that they were not sleeping on the job and were looking for fresher and more respectful alignments. Kitui Senator Enock Wambua also affirmed that Wiper “is in politics.”
“We are not just sitting and watching. We are also thinking strategically. We want to have reliable political friends in the near future,” said Mulu, without disclosing the next move.
A close confidant of the DP and who asked not to be named told Saturday Standard that they were in talks with a number of senior politicians in NASA to have a close working relationship. “We are talking to everyone, big and small. I can confirm that we are in structured talks with some NASA leaders because we believe that we need everyone in our journey,” he said.
According to the MP, the talks were spearheaded by select groups of people in the Ruto’s circle keen to have a formidable team. Belgut MP Nelson Koech, another Ruto’s ally, said any politician with ambition would not wish away support. “Ruto will need support from all quarters. Where possible we hope they (potential allies) will join Jubilee under President Uhuru Kenyatta,” said Koech.
Ford Kenya Secretary General and Kimilili MP Eseli Simiyu and Wetangula’s confidant said that they were ready to move on politically and are seeking a ‘new formidable alliance’.
“We are appalled by the kind of attitude our friends in ODM have; we are even wondering how they would behave if they were the party in power; we will get into new alignments and teach them a lesson,” said Eseli.
ANC party has not been left behind in strategies to have better tidings in 2022, according to its Deputy Party Leader Ayub Savula. He regrets that his party candidate, Eliud Owalo, scored badly in Kibra largely because of confronting ODM. “We engaged the wrong gear. We lost the plot when we decided to abuse Raila in his own ‘bedroom’ instead of being persuasive to the voters,” said Mr Savula, adding: “We will move on to another alliance, particularly an amalgamation that will win the election.”
According to him, there are some in the party who feel Ruto is the best bet but vowed to oppose that position at the party’s National Executive Council.
ODM chairman and Minority Leader John Mbadi (Suba South) admitted that if NASA is to be salvaged, they need discussions and negotiations in the aftermath of the divisive poll.
“This by-election dealt a blow to the coalition. Our affiliate parties that fielded candidates were ready to subject Raila to public ridicule by losing the Kibra seat. We survived. Going forward, the contest has set the stage for the future,” he said.
Mudavadi said most statements by ODM over Kibra were political outburst. He, however said the procedure for disengaging from NASA coalition was well spelt out.
He said going into the future, they would ensure coalitions are handled with care. “Coalitions come and go. It’s not a new phenomenon. When time comes for ours to end, we will move into another and make it work,” said Mudavadi
Meanwhile in the Jubilee wing, Ruto’s group is coming to terms with the reality that the support they were denied from within could be replicated in the 2022 presidential poll. Their main hope, sources told Saturday Standard, is strong partnership and alliances that bypass the party.
The team is buoyed by the political siege they laid on Raila in Kibra, introducing a political greenhorn who went on to secure an impressive vote largely on the DP’s own personal effort and goodwill.
“Raila was under siege. He came out unscathed but a loss for him would have been very devastating. For Ruto to bring Mariga, a young man who was not even a voter in Kibra and not articulate in politics, threw a scare to the core and put Raila on toes,” Prof Herman Manyora explained. He said Ruto’s team must now be over the moon: “If the campaign took longer, Ruto would have pulled a fast one on Raila. Ruto’s man got over 11,000 votes yet some Jubilee leaders joined Raila. Imagine what would have happened if he had the backing of the party all the way to the President?”
Dr Samuel Okuro of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University concurs with Prof Manyora that the Kibra case is a perfect example of the Kenyan politics in the national arena in the near future.
“It shows what will unfold in future. The strange support accorded to Raila illustrates that Raila is strategically positioning himself to work with people he has worked with before and those he hasn’t. Its about 2022,” he explained.
Majority Leader Aden Duale said the by-election exposed ODM’s dwindling fortunes, having lost in Ugenya and Embakasi South and failed to field a candidate in Wajir West.
“For Jubilee and its Deputy Party Leader William Ruto, we have consolidated our traditional strongholds more, reaching out to our like-minded leaders. We have snatched 28 per cent of supporters from Baba’s bedroom,” he said.
The confusion in Jubilee in the aftermath of the by-election was imminent in a loaded message presented to the DP by Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi. While regional leaders were offering support, Kiraitu urged caution.