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Flip-flopping Kalonzo stuns both friend and foe

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka in a past press conference. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka is a man of many Damascus moments; some good, while others have proven detrimental to his political image and country.

The man from Tseikuru has mastered the art of political flip-flopping, something that has seen him earn the moniker “chameleon” and subjected to ridicule.

These U-turn moments have also, however, saved Kalonzo from going into political oblivion.

The latest incident is when he announced his exit from the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya after failing to clinch the running mate position.

The last-minute entrant into the coalition had made everyone bend over backwards to accommodate him and his demands - including a name change - only for him to bolt out at the last minute.

To demonstrate his resolve to go it alone, he named Andrew Sunkuli as his running mate on a day that Azimio flag bearer Raila Odinga unveiled Narc Kenya party leader Martha Karua as his deputy.

"If there is no faith, you can't do business... For how long do people expect Kalonzo Musyoka to be the one sacrificing? And even if we sacrifice, they mess up…as we speak, my name is before IEBC as a presidential candidate for the Wiper Democratic Movement,” said Musyoka during a televised address on Monday.

Left Liberal Democratic Party

The announcement was a departure from his earlier stance “Baba Tosha” and an indication of a man whose decisions are, seemingly, not cast in stone. 

During the 2005 referendum, Musyoka who was a Cabinet Minister surprised many when he differed with President Kibaki after joining the ‘No’ campaign against a new Constitution. He was later sacked. 

He later left the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and joined Raila in the ODM-Kenya party and after a fall out, unveiled his presidential candidature promising to “Kupita katikati ya Kibaki na Raila.”

But when the 2007 presidential elections came, he was appointed a vice president by President Kibaki after coming in a distant third in the polls.

The role he played in the splitting of ODM-Kenya into two factions saw Kibaki clinch the presidency by slightly over 200,000 votes, an indication that had Musyoka and Odinga stuck together, they would have won.  

Come 2010 and the Wiper leader was again the butt of jokes over his indecisiveness in the referendum campaigns that ultimately birthed the new Constitution.

His failure to take a clear stand on the referendum however saw him branded a watermelon.

Musyoka openly registered his support for the new Constitution but members of the campaign team opposing the draft constitution claimed that he was secretly opposing it. That is why he was called watermelon.

His inability to decide between the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ teams, prompted the ODM leader to dismiss him.

Swore himself in

During the 2013 and 2017 elections, Musyoka shelved his presidential ambitions to support Raila, but they lost against President Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto in both elections.

After the 2017 presidential election was nullified, the ODM leader swore himself in as the People's President, but the Wiper leader was conspicuously missing.

Fast forward to 2022 and the Wiper leader was resolute in his decision to go it alone for the presidency.

“For me, as of now, it is unthinkable that I, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, would support Raila Odinga for the third time. I would be the most stupid fellow on earth to go and support — for the third time — a presidential candidate without a measure of reciprocity,” he said.

That was until Raila dangled the running mate carrot and he went running into the arms of the man with whom he shares a bitter-sweet history.

His entry into Azimio was hinged on his expectations that he was the automatic pick for running mate but the Mt Kenya factor in the coalition party dictated otherwise.

Musyoka however found himself among seven other aspirants for the position, including Raila’s pick Martha Karua, and when he sensed that things would not go his way, he again bolted in pursuit of his initial dream of becoming president.

He intends to convince his lower Eastern bloc with 1.5 million registered voters to cast the ballot in his favour and deny Dr Ruto and Raila the crucial votes that could lead to a run-off.

Kalonzo, however, believes he is not a flip-flopper as he’s been branded.

“I have been wrongfully profiled as indecisive, a coward and a fence sitter. I am actually none of those, I act in the best interests of the country,” he said in a recent interview.

Makueni MP Dan Maanzo, yesterday refuted claims that Kalonzo, was indecisive and instead described him as “a politician who knows what he is doing and who is also open-minded.”

“Kalonzo has always said he is open for negotiations… on the issue of the running mate for instance, when you give him a position that is not backed by the Constitution he will not take it,” said Maanzo.

Leaders from the Azimio and Kenya Kwanza camps however hold different views.

United Democratic Alliance chair Johnson Muthama is convinced that the Wiper leader’s indecisiveness will be his downfall.

“Kalonzo has no clear political direction and that is why no outfit wants to partner with him. Kenyans have witnessed him hold five National Delegates Conferences where he has received the blessing to vie for the presidency and negotiate on behalf of the party. Still, he keeps coming up short,” said Muthama.

“What people look for in a leader is someone who can make firm decisions on short notice,” political analyst Gitile Naituli said.

“Kalonzo is currently enjoying his retirement funds from the vice presidency. How then does he apply for the same job that he retired from?”

Senator Ledama ole Kina, believes Musyoka would troop back to Azimio.

“Kalonzo will be back to Azimio sooner than later. The proposed chief cabinet secretary position for him is too good to let go,” he posted on social media.