What is Kalonzo’s real value to NASA?
For a man harbouring ambitions to be President in 2022, NASA running mate Kalonzo Musyoka does a poor job pretending to be king in waiting.
It is hard to see the exact value Kalonzo brings to NASA’s table as its number two, well apart from the one million votes from the three counties of Makueni, Machakos and Kitui where he is king.
Granted, Kalonzo did deliver for NASA in the August 8 polls. From the presidential results NASA is cannot stop rubbishing, the Opposition got 969,573 votes from Kamba land. President Uhuru Kenyatta garnered 175,189.
But that is where Kalonzo’s contribution to NASA’s march to State House abruptly ends.
Watching him through the campaigns for theAugust 8 elections – and even as Kenya gears for the repeat presidential election slated for October 17, which the opposition is really yet to begin taking seriously – one could not miss to see that the Wiper leader is out of tune with the opposition’s propaganda chorus.
Of the five original NASA principals, Kalonzo seemed to have failed to endear himself to the legion of enthusiastic party supporters. And we all know how charged NASA rallies can be. Yet the Wiper Party leader always comes across as jaded and lackluster. Heck, even his friend-turned-foe-turned-friend again, former Machakos Senator Johnston Muthama, works up the crowd better.
We all know of Raila’s football commentary antics and the vitendawili narratives. Of Musalia Mudavadi’s Nasa Hao chants and Moses Wetang’ula’s vindu vichejanga. Even Isaac Ruto had established a chant for his pesa mashinani calls for which his party Chama Cha Mashinani was well known as an ardent agitator.
Kalonzo? Always disinterested. That is of course away from his misplaced assertions that Raila’s victory was stolen in 2007 when everyone knows he was part of the problem then.
And although he delivered votes to NASA in the now invalidated August 8 presidential poll, Kalonzo still suffered heavy losses. He came out badly wounded as the regional kingpin. He may have secured more or less the same number of legislators Wiper had in the 11th Parliament, but he lost key seats at the county level. That Wiper only won one of the three governor seats from his Kamba backyard, even after the party leader vigorously campaigned for its candidates, is a stain that may never wash away from his political CV. And even then, Makueni’s Kivutha Kibwana would have won had he vied on his former party Muungano.
Now Kalonzo has his work cut out to regain lost ground. Is he up to the challenge? Unlike his political equals of Uhuru, Ruto and Raila, he did not have to work hard to establish himself as the king in Kamba land. He just had to hang on the coattail of Muli Mutisya and the seat was his.
He is the direct opposite of William Ruto, his equal in Jubilee and the man he is likely to face in 2022. Yet, as the August 8 2017 elections showed, Kalonzo is not really in the Deputy President’s league. Ruto is energized, charismatic, a go-getter. He is the one politician many love to hate and hate to love at the same time. Kalonzo is none of this.
Just as Kalonzo delivered Ukambani to NASA, Ruto brought the entire Kalenjin vote to Jubilee. But unlike the Wiper leader, Ruto did not stop there. The major gains Jubilee won in Western and Kisii are the reward for his many bold inroads to regions perceived as opposition strongholds.
If the October 17 repeat presidential election goes the way many know it will – that is affirm Uhuru’s August 8 re-election – it will signify two things. First, it will bring to an end the decades-long rivalry between the Kenyatta and Odinga dynasties. Second, it will mark the beginning of earnest scramble for 2022, Kenya being a country in perpetual campaign mode. That is where Kalonzo’s political qualities will come under severe test.
As things stand, Ruto has a sharper edge having demonstrated his shrewdness in the campaigns. The question is, is Kalonzo ready to play in the premier league of politics? Or better still, does he have what it takes to be president?
His laid-back demeanor and ambivalence show he has to undergo a sea-change to be a big player in the 2022 presidential race that promises to be blistering.
By Sarah Korere, Laikipia North MP
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