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Why Kalonzo owes Raila lifelong political commitment and support

Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s followers will wait for ‘Godot’ if they expect Raila Odinga to endorse him for the presidency. The last time Raila had a chance for Kalonzo was in the 2017 general elections when he picked him as a running mate for the second time, and they lost to Uhuru Kenyatta.

Since Raila is permanently inked in the history of Kenya's politics, Kalonzo will remain a politician who changed that history forever.

The desire for Kalonzo to ditch Raila is familiar. Toward 2022, he threatened his political conviction with a label of stupidity. He said that he would be the most stupid person on earth if he were to support Raila for the record third time. In reality, Kalonzo was fiddling with an inner conflict between his moral conscience and the politician in him.

The politician in Kalonzo was threatening the moral conscience of Musyoka, which was haunting him for his political choices of the 1990s and before and after the 2007 general elections. Well, the moral conscience won at last and Kalonzo threw himself behind Baba in 2022 even when he was not a running mate. Did that make Kalonzo a stupid person, as he had said? I don’t think so!

Kalonzo's political jinx is traceable in his politics for two consecutive decades—the 1990s and late 2000s. 

For the latest ghosts, Kalonzo owed Ukambani leaders an apology for which he has humbly served. During the fight for multiparty democracy, Ukambani was mainly on the opposition's side—even when some key leaders, like Kalonzo, pulled toward the embattled regime.

Note that apart from Kalonzo, Kaluki Ngilu and Kivutha Kibwana—the former Kitui and Makueni, respectively, were part of the young Turks who advocated for the second liberation. To date, these fellows have seemingly never forgiven him for his position at a time when they thought their political course was worthy of the fight.

Therefore, Kalonzo being on the side of their political paragon, Raila, even when he is considered their political senior, is an unconscious apology to the ‘easterners’. It is a political history that shaped the tension between Kalonzo and the two, excluding the new generation leaders who have constantly revived Kalonzo's political life in the region.

Second, against the chagrin of many, the Ukambani political kingpin owes Raila a lifelong commitment and support. Notably, he has been unconsciously trying to apologise for what he did to Raila and the Nyanza region in 2007. Were it not for him, Raila's political history would be different—Raila would have become the fourth president he was destined to be, according to many political pundits.

The 2007 elections were so easy to win—Kibaki was seemingly not willing to take his second term were it not for the weaknesses the opposing side presented. The so-called 'system’ was not prepared to rig, nor was there observable electoral fraud like vote-buying, ballot stuffing, voter intimidation, confusing ballots, disinformation and other red flags during the elections.

Whatever happened after the December 27, 2007 polls, if at all the claims about rigging are true, it was not planned; it was spontaneous.

According to the experts on vote rigging, one known catalyst of electoral fraud is if the gap between the winner and the runner-up is too narrow. Note that the contested results showed that Kibaki won by 46.42 per cent against Raila's 44.07 per cent. Therefore, the difference was 2.35 per cent, translating to 231,728 votes—the narrowest of all times in Kenya’s presidential polls.

In his fringe position then, Kalonzo garnered 8.91 per cent. If they had not separated, the 879,903 votes would have been hard to bridge through manipulation.

What do we say then? This lost glory is what Kalonzo has been chasing all along, but it is a chance that might never come again. Therefore, both must politically console each other, as Kalonzo owes Raila Odinga the rest of his political life.

Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Kabarak University 

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