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The night of long knives is at hand, and phones will go off

By Peter Kimani | Apr 15th 2022 | 3 min read
Safaricom mobile phone subscribers queue to upgrade their new sim cards registration at a shop along Kimathi Street, Nairobi on April 11, 2022 [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

It seems too much of a coincidence that the Communications Authority of Kenya’s (CAK) deadline for verification of SIM registration falls on this very day, just as the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) is conducting party primaries.

I don’t know the precise time when the CAK will decree unverified lines switched off, but I suspect it is midnight, when those who miss on party nominations will be on call as well.

They will be calling to seek party bosses’ intervention after being locked out of what they see as their birthright to contest this or that seat, so it’s going to be a long, long night, when long knives will be drawn.

The bickering has already started in Azimio, with outgoing Machakos Governor Alfie Mutua submitting his name for “consideration” to be Raila Odinga’s running mate.

Consideration is a new, if strange political lexicon in Alfie’s world.

He has been singing that he’s going to run for president for a while, same way he had been singing about building a city in Machakos.

We know the idea of the Machakos city is a figment of Alfie’s rich imagination, same way his running mate quest might end up.

But since politics is the art of the possible, it’s best to give him the benefit of the doubt and explore his roadmap.

Alfie sees his path to power through dismantling what Wiperman Kalonzo Musyoka has built, by way of a three-legged stool symbolising coalition partners under One Kenya Alliance (OKA).

By the way, there are so many acronyms, even the fair lady of UDA, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, who reportedly has also tendered her name for “consideration” as William Ruto’s running mate, called her party boss the leader of “Azimio Alliance.”

Before her faux pas could dry on her lips, she scoffed at those asking for Ruto to vacate his official residence for renovation, asking Prezzo UK to leave his mansion first. Well, one has to be consistent; if you believe in bottom up, then let those at the bottom start!

I digress.  Alfie wants the three-legged contraption dismantled to accommodate one more leg.

He says that will give the seat more stability, but he does not talk of reconfiguring the surface area or adjusting its height. He just wants one leg welded to the other three.

That would be a structural oddity, but that’s not Alfie’s problem. He’s already gotten ahead of himself, invoking credentials that make him more appealing than his competitors. He says he will sprint “chap-chap” on errands for Baba because, he looked up for emphasis, face scowled, and stuttered: Baba needs someone he can trust and count on.

He then gave a slight shrug: I trust him, and I know he can trust me. The shrug, the scowl, the rush, said more than his words could convey. He claimed he would push Kenya to the economic prosperity of Singapore and Malaysia…

Once upon not-too-long ago, Alfie looked to Dubai as the quintessence of urban renewal. He promised to do the same for Machakos, so if that didn’t work, it’s time to cast his sight on other destinations. Same way he’s shifted from running for presidency to seeking running mate’s role.

And as UDA party primaries close this evening and results are out by midnight, things are likely to come to a head as the perceived favourites miss out on coveted tickets and look for answers that will not be readily available, with many subscribers shutting their phones, momentarily.

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