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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Did Kalonzo get raw deal in NASA lineup?

NASA flag bearer Raila Odinga with his co-principals Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka during the ODM National Delegates’ Conference at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, May 5, 2017. /JACK OWUOR
NASA flag bearer Raila Odinga with his co-principals Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka during the ODM National Delegates’ Conference at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi, May 5, 2017. /JACK OWUOR

The jury is still out on whether Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka secured a raw deal in the NASA pact signed last week.

This has been of concern in Ukambani after NASA deposited its agreement at the Registrar of Political Parties, for the first time making the deal, complete with newfangled Cabinet portfolios, public.

Despite voting for Raila Odinga overwhelmingly in 2013, some in Ukambani feel they will end up with little, notwithstanding Wiper is a founder member of NASA, the Alliance Raila now heads.

MInority Leader Francis Nyenze, a key Kalonzo ally, was the first to openly voice his concern over the NASA deal when it was unveiled after months of intense negotiations.

“It is going to be a difficult task to convince the Kamba nation to play second fiddle when they played that in 2013. In 2017, they expected their son to be flagbearer. These are things I say as a senior member of Wiper and as a Kamba leader and it is good to tell the truth and shame the devil,” he told a press conference he held jointly with Kitui Senator David Musila.

Wiper was allocated the deputy presidency and the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Transport as well as Information Communication Technology.

Nyenze has since made a U-turn and announced he would support the NASA lineup.

Read: Nyenze endorses NASA line-up after meeting Kalonzo

Yesterday, Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu claimed that the disaffection sweeping through Ukambani was massive.

“The NASA thing was born in Uhuru Park and it died immediately there. You could see the reaction. When Raila was named, people started walking out and anybody ignoring that, I don't know which world they live in,” Mutambo said.

Mutambo defected from Wiper to Jubilee alongside a host of lawmakers from the Lower Eastern region.

But such sentiments were also expressed by Wiper Nominated MP Robert Mutemi, who said he was utterly disappointed by the NASA agreement. Mutemi said Raila would easily be trounced by Jubilee – as they did in 2013.

“I am not a tribalist, but we were not all along bargaining to have Kalonzo as a running mate to Raila. We wanted him to become the flagbearer as he is the man to beat Jubilee,” he said.

Concerns abound that since the restoration of ploical pluralism in 1992, Ukambani has repeatedly received a raw deal in all the poorly negotiated coalitions that Kalonzo has led them into.

In 1997, Kalonzo backed then President Daniel Moi against Charity Ngilu – and Moi won.

In 2002, Kalonzo backed Mwai Kibaki against Uhuru. Kibaki won and appointed Kalonzo and Charity Ngilu to head the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health respectively.

In 2008, Kalonzo sided with Raila as the opposition leader and Kibaki went for each other’s jugular. Thereafter, Kalonzo negotiated with Kibaki and got two ministerial positions – for Samuel Poghisio and Mutula Kilonzo, now deceased.

But some close allies of the former Vice President have rubbished claims of a raw deal, especially because Kalonzo stands to succeed Raila in 2022.

Kitui Governor Julius Malombe said Kalonzo's current standing in NASA will enable him to win the presidency in 2022.

“We will support him as deputy president and the presidential candidate in 2022 as Raila will not contest then,” the Kitui County boss said.

Raila has publicly announced that he will only serve for one term.

In the NASA deal, Raila's ODM party has been allocated the powerful ministries of Finance, Defence and Education, in addition to the presidency.

Kalonzo will also have three ministries should NASA trounce President Uhuru Kenyatta on August 8.

However, he will be unable to distribute these three seats among the Kamba because Wiper must balance its strongholds of Northeastern and Coast with a CS each.

This effectively means the community will get only one CS position, which is similar to what Jubilee has given Ukambani currently, under Health CS Cleopa Mailu.

In the NASA arrangement, Kalonzo lost the Coordination of Government Affairs docket to Musalia Mudavadi, who would occupy the powerful position of Premier Cabinet Secretary.

Government Coordination is currently held by DP Ruto, who approves and correlates all government affairs.

Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula will coordinate economic affairs and his party will take the two Cabinet slots of Infrastructure and Energy.

Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto’s Chama cha Mashinani has been allocated the Health and Devolution ministries.

“This leaves Kalonzo and the Kambas holding straws and bones,” analyst Charles Mulila told the Star. “Silent political souls in Ukambani are unhappy with Kalonzo for electing to be a perennial kingmaker and are genuinely worried about the political direction the community has taken.”

Silently, a rebellion of sorts is brewing, but political aspirants in Wiper have kept a studious silence until they get elected to Parliament riding on Kalonzo’s back.

Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko's name has been floated that he may soon claim the leadership of Ukambani if Kalonzo does not swiftly lay claim to State House.

Kalonzo is expected to deliver the close to 1.5 million votes from the Lower Eastern region and an estimated 300,000 from Kambas in "diaspora” counties.

Given that the current constitutional dispensation caps the number of ministries at 22, it will be hard to reserve many CS positions for one community.

NASA has also said it is keen to strike an ethnic balance, and no tribes will dominate the government.

“We have consistently expressed our commitment to building a nation that carries all communities and all shades of opinion on board. We have consistently said we are committed to building a nation that stands in sync with the dreams of our founders, a nation that thrives on unity, peace and liberty,” Raila said recently.

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