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ELECTION 2022

Why OKA game plan may be headache for Raila and Ruto

POLITICS
By Moses Nyamori | Jan 17th 2022 | 4 min read

Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka and ANC's Musalia Mudavadi during a past event. [File, Standard]

The political standoff and suspicion in One Kenya Alliance (OKA) now threatens to alter the succession race as Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) insist on running for presidency.

The stance by the duo is likely to have a bearing on the chances of the perceived front runners in the presidential race – Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga – winning in the first round as they could eat into their support bases.

Analysts reckon that having a strong third force could cause a rerun by denying Ruto and Raila 50 per cent plus one vote in the first round.

But by choosing to run individually, analysts argue that Kalonzo and Mudavadi’s influence in the political scene could diminish, making their candidature inconsequential in the final outcome of the elections.

The Wiper and ANC leaders have in the past contested for presidency but came a distant third in the polls.

Kalonzo garnered 879,903 votes in the disputed 2007 General Election, coming third after President Mwai Kibaki and Raila while Mudavadi managed 483,981 votes in the 2013 race that was won by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

On Saturday, the Wiper leader declared that he will be on the ballot on a day allies of Mudavadi insisted that they will only back OKA if the ANC leader is the flag bearer.

Yesterday, Wiper vice chair and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said the Yatta Declaration has now put to rest reports that Kalonzo would back down in favour of Raila.

Further, he noted that the resolution brings to an end the narrative that the next poll will be a two-horse race as the Wiper leader is in the race to win.

“Raila and Ruto should brace themselves because Kalonzo is definitely a force in the presidential election,” said Kilonzo Jnr.

However, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala compared Kalonzo’s support base to a small river that has to join Mudavadi’s bigger “vote basket of Western.” “We want to tell them that it is a small river that channels its waters to a big river. The Luhyas are many. The only formula we shall accept is that which fronts Musalia as OKA presidential candidate,” said Malala.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

But Kanu Secretary General Nick Salat warned against the hardline stance taken by the two OKA principals arguing that no single politician can go it alone and win the top seat.

Salat said the only sure way to capture power is by joining forces with other like-minded political players. He, however, expressed optimism that they will forge a united front for the contest.

“Nobody can win elections by going alone unless you get partners. That is why Kanu is keen on the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to address the fears that come with endorsing another candidate, who after winning you loss control over them,” he said.

University lecturer and political analyst Prof Macharia Munene argues that Mudavadi and Kalonzo could be forced to run not necessarily to win but for their political survival.

Munene notes that the two leaders have created an image of indecisiveness and weaklings, and would be running to shed off the tag.

“Their survival depends on them running. They have to show that they are serious because if they don’t they will be dismissed as jokers,” he said.

However, he dismissed the assertion that the Wiper and ANC leaders are likely to force a rerun, arguing that the race will be decided by how the candidates sell their agenda.

Political analyst Herman Manyora concurred with Munene saying Kalonzo and Mudavadi will have little consequence in the race.

Manyora says that voters are aware of the likely winners in the race and would not waste their vote on candidates far away from clinching the seat.

“The question is, will he (Kalonzo) take all the Ukambani votes? The answer is no, because we have the three governors who are pulling in the opposite direction,” he said

“The idea that he is going nowhere will also work against him,” he added.

Political analyst Herman Manyora. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

In Western, Manyora said Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa will work to contain Mudavadi should he decide to run.

“It is only if they run jointly that there will be a slim chance for a rerun,” he said.

Raila had Kalonzo as his running mate in 2013 and 2017 polls, with the former Vice President delivering 968,000 votes from Kitui, Machakos and Makueni counties.

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli, ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna, ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula and Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi insisted that the race will be between Raila and Ruto and dismissed possibility of Kalonzo and Mudavadi forcing a rerun.

Atwoli said Kenyans have already made up their mind and will not be distracted by individuals whose agenda was to cause a rerun so that they can cut political deals with the winner.

“There will be no rerun. Kenyans have made up their mind. OKA should also make up their mind and join either Ruto and Raila,” he said.

Sifuna said those seeking to vie o as to force a rerun are “lost and misdirected” as there would an outright win in the first round, dismissing claims that Raila was likely to lose the Ukambani votes.

Osostsi said that with the drama in OKA, it is unlikely that it will field a joint candidate.

On his part, Savula also dismissed Mudavadi and Kalonzo’s ambitions as a total waste of time saying they will not make any consequential attempt in the race.

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