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NASA ‘brothers’ cosy up to each other amid revival talk

By Jacob Ng’etich | August 11th 2019
Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula, Wiper Party’s Kalonzo Musyoka and ODM’s Raila Odinga during a campaign rally in 2017. [File, Standard]

Initially seen as tattered and irreparable, the National Super Alliance (NASA) is regrouping, if events of the recent past are anything to go by.

In the last few weeks, Raila, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Amani National Congress (ANC)’s Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula have had close interaction, feeding into speculation that the political outfit is reinvigorating itself.

Last Thursday, Raila, Kalonzo, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula joined hundreds of mourners at Moi Girls School Nairobi for a memorial service in honour of the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth and spoke repeatedly about political unity.

Public meetings

The NASA leaders sat close to each other and chatted as the programme went on. But that was not the first time they have been meeting in public.

Recently, during the funeral of former Harambee Stars footballer Joe Kadenge, Raila, Mudavadi and Wetang’ula shared the same podium. In their speeches, they referred to each other as brothers as they spoke on their need to work together.

They hobnobbed together during Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso’s funeral and burial services and have adopted a common approach on the Punguza Mizigo Bill, which is meant to amend the Constitution.

An ODM MP told Sunday Standard that away from the public events, the four leaders have also been meeting privately and on separate days.

“They meet regularly, that I can tell you. I believe they are re-strategising for a possible referendum and political duels ahead,” said the MP.

The political alliance between the four withered immediately after the 2017 repeat presidential polls, with each politician going their separate way.

It is, however, the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila that almost dashed the hopes of them keeping the coalition alive.

Initially, Kalonzo and Mudavadi read from the same script, accusing Raila for ‘betraying them’. They later beat a hasty retreat and supported the handshake.

Since then, all the NASA luminaries have joined the bandwagon and are in support of the handshake.

But it was the acrimony between Raila’s ODM party and Wetang’ula at the Senate that sounded the death knell for the coalition. The Bungoma senator was unceremoniously kicked out of the powerful seat of Leader of Minority at the Senate and the position handed to Siaya Senator James Orengo.

Wetang’ula had then warned that the NASA divorce had begun, saying it was going to be “noisy and messy”.

Attempts by Kalonzo to reconcile Raila with Wetang’ula failed, with ODM insisting that there were no differences to sort between the two.

But the fallout over Wetang’ula’s ouster seems to have been solved as recent happenings show.

While in a function in Migori late last year, Wetang’ula asked Raila to take advantage of the conducive political atmosphere to bring about electoral reforms.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, who is also ODM’s director of political affairs, said the quest for political reforms has been NASA’s spirit.

“There can only be lulls but the dream never dies. That is why people can drift apart but those who are genuine will drift back,” said Wandayi.

Moving forward

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi said the hiccups in the alliance were only shortlived.

Osotsi said that all the top leaders in the alliance were in support of the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

“The alliance is as strong as ever and we believe that we can now move forward together,” said Osotsi

Malala said Raila had played a pivotal role in bringing the leaders together.

“We are now almost where we were before, under a united leadership. We support Raila’s handshake and the reform agenda, we can now move forward as a coalition,” said Malala.

But there have been arguments that the coming together of the NASA leaders was a political strategy to deny Deputy President William Ruto attempts to craft alliances with one or a number of them.

The ODM leaders agree that a disintegrated Nasa would be an easy boon for Ruto who has been making political forays in their strongholds.

“You can imagine if there was disunity in the coalition, Jubilee and particularly Ruto would take advantage to penetrate and win over some of the leadership and support base, that is partly why our unity is paramount,” said the MP.

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