Kalonzo: How not to win an election
By Kipkoech Tanui
Like many Kenyans I am disturbed by the blatant and premature 2012 campaigns we are being treated to by the likes of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.
He strikes me as a deceptive leader always in search of alliances, over which he will be automatic captain, as well as a window of opportunity in our political landscape that would allow him space squeeze himself between his more endowed rivals.
Last week we were on Ms Martha Karua, today we are on Kalonzo, and the rest will follow.
I wonder what sense there is when this man who prefers the ‘Brother’ and ‘Sister’ label tells us he is on a mission to unite Kenyans. I do not doubt his credentials as a leader but I do not delude myself that he enjoys the credibility of office all the other past VPs had because his came through a cunning and selfish post-election deal with President Kibaki, even as the rest of Kenya burned.
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He was given the post in line with the Constitution and that is where it ends. For it does not mean the circumstances of how he ended up being Veep, given he was not a running mate of any of the contenders — and despite his claim of stolen, phantom votes — can be easily forgotten.
We may, like Justice Johann Kriegler found out, be of the opinion no one can tell who won but there cannot be any doubt Kalonzo lost. Kenya’s problems from 2003 when the "Narc Dream" started slipping through our hands have always revolved around President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
The close to nine million votes they garnered — besides the ones we were told were accrued from electoral theft called ‘top up’ — vindicates the argument it is they who can unite Kenya. It is them who, in literal terms, seem to each ‘own’ a half of Kenya.
Kalonzo can only play his role but only as a servant and benefactor of Kibaki. He can only be deluding himself if he thinks by virtue of the veep’s office he can overreach himself, and even surpass Kibaki and Raila in responsibility of uniting this country.
The few things we must tell Kalonzo include asking him to try to be the humble man he claims he is; thank the heavens for his current post; and tread slowly. We must also remind him to respect the fact that of the 11 million voters who cast their votes in the last elections, just under one-tenth regarded him presidential material. Apart from Dr Julia Ojiambo, no notable face in the current Cabinet wanted to be his running mate.
Kalonzo must also know in two years he could not have undergone some mystic ‘reincarnation’ so much that he today can be the one to unite the millions who could not touch him when the die was cast.
Yes, he is a national leader and has his role in ‘uniting’ Kenya, but he can only succeed if he is sensitive to decisions Kenyans made on December 27, 2007. But he cannot purport to unite the nation while on a 2012 campaign mode, scratching old wounds and projecting himself as the political messiah Kenyans have been waiting for — yet his name is steeped in Kenya’s thick moulds of intolerance, bigotry and charlatanry of our past and current benign dictatorships.
We must also demand of Kalonzo, as well as of all the Cabinet members, public disclosures on their use of public resources such as vehicles and staff.
Did they accept Cabinet positions just because it would give them the excuse of traversing this country at no cost to themselves? We can legitimately ask if they did not turn their offices into waiting rooms for 2012?
When Kenya Revenue Authority garlanded Kalonzo’s ODM-Kenya MP Johnstone Muthama and Mr Peter Kenneth for being the only MPs whose salary is taxed, I asked myself why Kalonzo decided to stick to the larger pack when it goes against the virtues of the person he has packaged himself to be.
I remembered him when debate on taxing of MPs’ salary was raging, saying in his traditional way as a bridge-builder he would not comment in public because he was doing a lot more of consensus-building behind the scenes. But may be ‘servant leader’ also thrives on a fat wallet.
I hardly talk about Kalonzo because he appears to me to carrying himself as a ‘gift’ to my country; radiates some irrational sense of entitlement to power; is impatient with criticism; and when caught he plays and reneges on his word.
Above all, his intolerance with the media, whose coverage he does not mind, is legendary. He also reminds me of the chameleon in African folklore that challenged the hare for a race and won. How? The chameleon jumped on the hare’s tail and rode on it to ‘victory’. At the finishing line, where the victor’s seat had been placed, he cried hare was sitting him on because he was there first!
If Kalonzo believes he can get meaningful advice from an outsider like me, which I doubt very much, I will give him four free tips. One, whereas it is true the earliest bird catches the worm, it also goes without saying the earliest worm gets caught.
Two, the warrior who starts emptying his quiver when the ‘enemy’ is still far will have fewer arrows when the hour comes. Three, choose your friends wisely and your enemies wisest.
Fourth, it is for slapping a sick soldier he thought was lazy that President Dwight Eisenhower demoted General George S Patton — one of America’s greatest military commanders of all time. Often times it is big egos that fell giants.
The writer is The Standard’s Managing Editor, Daily Editions.