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January 20, 2019

Why NASA won't last till August

Why NASA won't last till August
Why NASA won't last till August

I do not think there is anyone in Kenya who does not know that NASA is in trouble.

Media reports indicate that the four co-principals: Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula and their respective parties, ODM, Wiper, ANC and Ford Kenya have failed to agree on the way forward on key issues, including nominations and who will be flagbearer.

The fact that no one from the opposition coalition has tried to spin these media reports shows exactly how bad things are.

Kalonzo has become NASA’s problem child, insisting very loudly that there is no future for the alliance unless he is the flagbearer. He has also demanded that the process of choosing the flagbearer must be based on the candidate best placed to defeat Jubilee, not the most popular candidate amongst them.

(Kalonzo is effectively accepting that Raila is the most popular candidate amongst the four of them, but then cheekily telling the ODM leader that his popularity does not translate into capacity to beat Uhuru).

Kalonzo has also become uncharacteristically assertive. He is telling off all and sundry and taking firm positions on issues in a way that is very different from the ‘watermelon’ nature he had come to be associated with before.

This has been seen primarily in his continued reference to the 2013 MoU between him and Raila, where Raila was to run in 2013 and support him in 2017. Wiper has been quite categorical that they will not allow the existence of NASA to override agreements entered into to form Cord, as ODM seems to be suggesting.

Mudavadi on the other hand says he is the ‘best compromise’ candidate. He insists he has ‘clean hands’ and does not attract deep feelings. Essentially he is trying to sell the ‘Kibaki effect’ of 2002, where you are the candidate least hated by the most people.

Again, like Kalonzo, he is indirectly attacking Raila by referring to the deep Railaphobia that exists in certain parts of Kenya, especially Central and Rift Valley. Mudavadi is therefore arguing that he does not attract as much hatred as Raila and thus qualifies to be the NASA candidate. (Please note he does not talk about how he compares with the other two co-principals).

On Wetang’ula – there really is nothing much to say about him in regard to NASA. He just seems interested in getting his senatorial seat back and clearly intends to leverage his ‘co-principalship’ status to achieve this objective.

What does all this mean? Mudavadi and Wetang’ula know they have absolutely no chance of being NASA flagbearers. This means their continued stay in NASA has nothing to do with running for president in 2017 and everything to do with positioning themselves to still be relevant in the final term of the Jubilee government.

This means they do not care what happens to NASA – they just need to survive this election and get out stronger as we head to 2022; which they can do with or without NASA.

Kalonzo knows Raila is the default NASA candidate – but he will not accept it. He has been explicit – including having people in Eastern province going around with T-shirts and caps written ‘No Kalonzo No NASA’.

Kalonzo is demanding that Raila sacrifice and campaign for him, just like he (Raila) did for Kibaki in 2002. If Raila does not do this Kalonzo will leave NASA and wait out Uhuru’s last term whilst preparing for a more realistic run in 2022.

He knows he is better off waiting for five years for Uhuru to serve his last term from 2017, than for 10 years under a Raila presidency because Raila will not honour any MoU to serve one term if he won.

Raila just wants NASA to hold until August. But the context above means it cannot.

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