The “enemy” between


Published on 30/05/2009

By Saturday Standard Team

To President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity, he was the ‘saviour’ who walked in during the hour of need, when Kenya was burning.

To Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, which fought PNU alongside Kalonzo until he crossed over to the ‘enemy’ camp, he remains a ‘traitor’, and an ‘opportunist’ who, in his own words, scouts for a middle-ground (kati- kati yao) to slip through.

President Kibaki (centre) with Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, left, and Prime Minister Raila Odinga at a past function. [PHOTO:JACOB OTIENO/STANDARD]

To Kalonzo’s ODM-Kenya, whose action in January last year earned two ministerial slots and the Vice-Presidency, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, is the ‘calculating’ and ‘cunning’ fox that branded itself as ‘Mr Clean’ and ‘Mr Humble’.

To ODM-Kenya, President Kibaki should reciprocate by whipping the central Kenya political bloc to support Kalonzo in the 2012 General Election. And that is where some in PNU eyeing the seat could be biting the fingernails, bidding time, before they land on him.

In this league feature former Justice Minister and Narc-Kenya chairperson Martha Karua, Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, and the man seen as the apple of the President’s eye, Kanu Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

Unlike Kalonzo who ‘sneaked’ in during post-election violence, Uhuru jumped onto the Kibaki’s bandwagon, before the 2007 elections. Both were rewarded with positions that rank them above other Cabinet Ministers.

Those who bandy the idea Kalonzo’s political constituency is too small and should tap into Uhuru’s bloc, are borrowing from an African saying: It is the small rive that joins the big one.

It is life in this box that has cast Kalonzo as a man perceived to be the ‘enemy’ within in the Grand Coalition Government.

To some in PNU he gets the tag because they believe he has outlived his political usefulness and it is time all fought to remain afloat no matter how one got in, in the first place.

ODM and Raila see Kalonzo as inferior and insignificant in the coalition. He is the trouble-maker and the ‘enemy’ between their party and the original PNU coalition they fought during elections, and with whom they signed a power-sharing deal on February 28, last year.

Even in the face of the disputed presidential election, perceived to have been a Kibaki-Raila duel, Kalonzo came a distant third, with a handful of parliamentary seats. But ironically, especially to ODM, his MPs, especially Cabinet Ministers Mutula Kilonzo, Samwel Poghisio, and a horde of ODM-Kenya MPs, have dared ODM to quit the coalition.

The party also detests the fact that during Kenya’s dark period, Kalonzo flew to Tanzania and Rwanda, where America’s President George Bush was headed as he intensified pressure on Kibaki to share power with Raila.

Like he did a fortnight ago, before Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete flew out to the US to be the first African leader to meet President Barack Obama, he was seen to be going ahead to put up Kibaki’s hard-line case.

Campaign blitz

Moving from the world of Kalonzo, or Steve as he called himself in his ‘wiper’ campaign blitz, to the national arena, there are voices like that of Karua’s to anyone jostling to succeed Kibaki from PNU, that there is no question of ‘reward’ or ‘entitlement.

Forestry and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa Noah Wekesa, who is from PNU, says Kalonzo should not expect the party to support his bid for presidency as payback. He advised the VP, who is still embroiled in protocol wars with Raila, that like other presidential candidates must be prepared for political battle.

“The queue is long and I will also be in the race,” said Wekesa.

Sigor MP Wilson Litole (ODM) described Kalonzo as “unreliable” politician whom Kenyans should not rely on to lead. Litole criticised Kalonzo’s decision to close ranks with President Kibaki after the disputed presidential election results. He added Kalonzo lacks support outside his Eastern Province.

Raila insists Kalonzo is down there, and he is at par with Kibaki. His party sees him as an intruder. That is the gist of the war that broke out between Kibaki and Raila over who should be Leader of Government Business in Parliament.

Raila, in illustrating his position, recently said he and Kalonzo set out to fight a lion, but the Mwingi North MP jumped to the other side and joined the Big Cat.

Speaking in March at an ODM-Kenya cocktail party in Nairobi, Kalonzo defended his decision to support President Kibaki after the controversial election:

“When we were sweating, the others were looking down upon us, when they lost, they wanted us to help them, but we joined the winning side … we are not traitors.”

In the first weeks of the unity government he apologised to those who perceived him as ‘traitor’. But he added the Raila team also left ODM-Kenya, and so the score is even.

With the scramble for central Kenya’s vote picking up, Kalonzo’s perception as Kibaki’s ‘saviour’ could be getting a beating by the VP’s perceived repositioning for ‘payback’.

Kalonzo is said to have been perceived as a formidable ally in PNU, until he started making it look like he needs to be ‘repaid’ by Kibaki’s people by ‘backing’ in 2012.

However, his close confidante, Kangundo MP Johnstone Muthama sees a different picture. “There are no differences whatsoever. If the time comes (for elections) we will go for nominations and whoever emerges the winner would be the flagbearer,” Muthama said.

Tribal jingoism

The deputy Government Chief Whip said tribal jingoism had no place in ‘new’ Kenya. “Kalonzo, Uhuru, Saitoti or whoever will be denied votes by Kenyans not by a particular tribe or region,” he said.

He said Kibaki and Kalonzo agreed to work together to stop bloodshed, and “those who caused the trouble only joined later after realising they could not have their way.”

Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang argues by joining PNU, Kalonzo thought he would be putting himself in a strategic position as well as destroying ODM, which he looked upon as a competitor.

” When he got into PNU he started looking at 2012 and how to manipulate the internal politics to the discomfort of Karua, Uhuru and Saitoti,” said Kajwang’.

Kajwang’ notes that if Kalonzo feels he is now facing isolation in PNU, then he is being served with the same pill he prescribed for ODM.

“I suspect that Kalonzo will not be a factor in the next General Election, not even in Ukambani,” said Kajwang’.

Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba and his Saboti counterpart Eugene Wamalwa argued Kalonzo should not be under-estimated in 2012. Ababu said Kalonzo is a calculating politician who plays his cards close to his chest.

“My advice to ODM is, we should be cautious with Kalonzo because he is ambitious and he does not talk much to expose himself,” added Ababu.

Wamalwa agreed with Ababu that Kalonzo is a cautious politician and it was too early for anyone to write him off.

He said the fact that Kalonzo does not open up easily makes it difficult to know how he is planning to go about the next presidential election, having contested the last one and failed. “There is, however, going to be a lot of re-alignment ahead of 2012, especially as early as from next year,” he added.

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