One Kenya Alliance headache in choosing flagbearer

New alliance is facing difficulty in harmoniously agreeing on a presidential candidate to avert disintegration

In Summary
  • The One Kenya Alliance is facing a major problem in selecting its 2022 presidential lineup, while it fights the label of being a 'deep state' project.
  • There are fears that should the principals go their separate ways, they would likely suffer humiliating defeats that could end or set back their political careers.
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka drum up support for Agnes Kavindu, the Wiper Senate candidate for the Machakos by-election, on January 26. Kanu and Ford Kenya party leaders Gideon Moi and Moses Wetang'ula present.
ONE KENYA: ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka drum up support for Agnes Kavindu, the Wiper Senate candidate for the Machakos by-election, on January 26. Kanu and Ford Kenya party leaders Gideon Moi and Moses Wetang'ula present.

The One Kenya Alliance is facing a tough challenge of picking its 2022 presidential line-up even as it fights off the claims of being a 'deep-state' project.

The new alliance of Gideon Moi (Kanu), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Moses Wetang'ula of Ford Kenya could disintegrate over flagbearer disputes.

Can they set aside their personal interests?

Should the principals go their separate ways, they are likely to suffer defeat at the ballot that would set back their political careers.

The four say they are out to breathe fresh air and detoxify the country's politics.

Critics say their overriding problem is identifying a presidential candidate.

All the four have declared they will run for President in 2022, raising the stakes for the ticket as they try to craft a formidable lineup that will take them to State House.

Big factors in their negotiations will be how many votes each will bring the table and how popular each man would be nationally.

For instance, if Musalia gets the baton, he will boast of more than 2.8 million voters in Western Kenya, going by the 2017 register of voters. That excludes the diaspora.

Musalia and Wetang'ula have pledged to stick together to consolidate their Luyha vote bloc and buttress their bid for a clean sweep in their backyards.

The duo used the twin Matungu and Kabuchai by-elections to assert their authority as the region's kingpins, despite a spirited effort by ODM boss Raila Odinga to assert his influence.

Deputy President William Ruto failed in his attempt to use the by-elections to gain a foothold in the region through his new UDP outfit.

Kalonzo's three Ukambani counties have nearly 1.7 registered voters. according to the 2017 IEBC register. He is likely to harvest more from the diaspora Kamba votes.

Gideon's bid for the One-Kenya presidential ticket could be complicated by the fact vote-rich Rift Valley is locked by Deputy President William Ruto, who also will be on the ballot. Gideon is the Baringo senator and Kanu boss.

Gideon, despite being the son of former President Daniel Moi, has yet to carve out a name for himself. He is still riding on his father's legacy, especially among elderly voters.

On Monday, Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu told the Star the One Kenya Alliance's unity will be tested by the process of choosing a flagbearer and whether they can set aside personal ambitions.

“The nomination process will be the moment of reckoning for the alliance that will determine whether it will hold or not,” he said. Simiyu is the National Assembly deputy minority whip.

The Ford Kenya MP said the timing of the nominations and the ultimate choice will determine if the alliance will stay afloat until the next general election.

“They will have to choose carefully depending on what each of them brings to the table. If they start chest-thumping and scaremongering, they may not stand the test of time,” he said.

Political analyst Dismas Mokua said the alliance could be forced to stick together for fear of being vanquished by their rivals should they be rocked by any power struggles.

“They are well aware that if they go separate ways, they will suffer a humiliating defeat that will send them to the history books. They will not even be able to influence their backyards," he said.

He went on, 'The fear of being consigned to dustbin of political history is the glue that unites them.”

Mokua said the one Kenya alliance principals are walking a narrow path in their 2022 options as major players scheme to alienate them.

“They may need to build more friendships with other regional leaders to expand the alliance beyond just the four of them to buttress their  chances,” he said.

ODM treasurer Timothy Bosire speaks at Morako Primary School.
BOSIRE: ODM treasurer Timothy Bosire speaks at Morako Primary School.
Image: FILE

When they unveiled the alliance, Musalia, Wetang'ula, Kalonzo and Gideon were accompanied by Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku to woo the Masaai community.

However, One Kenya has come under a barrage of attacks from their rivals, especially Raila's camp, which has accused them of positioning themselves for a possible endorsement by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Unveiled three weeks ago, the alliance has been forced to defend itself against claims it was being groomed bypowerful individuals in  Kenyatta's government.

Some of Raila's allies claimed One Kenya was out to elbow the ODM boss from the heart of the BBI campaigns to tilt the scales in their favour.

ODM Treasurer Timothy Bosire, agreeing that the team faces a massive headache, said for them to make any impact, they must be backed by an influential political player.

“As part of a system they can move a national agenda. But individually and as a group, they can not rise to the occasion,” the ex-Kitutu Masaba MP said.

The four do not stand for any ideology or philosophy, he said.

He went on, “They have just come to the scene and are designed to make an impact but their driver and the force behind them is yet to be known. They can't go far, they are someone's makeshift [project]," Bosire said.

The ex-MP said that the country's future will be shaped by President Uhuru, Ruto and Raila whose failures, if any, would endanger Kenya's destiny. 

Kolonzo and Wetang'ula have a history of working together when in 2013 they joined forces with ODM to form the Cord coalition that nearly vanquished Jubilee.

Despite claims One Kenya could be a political makeshift of powerful forces keen on swaying the 2022 succession, the team is said to be setting up structures to affirm their political autonomy.

They already have a team of 12 members, mainly their political allies working on technicalities of formalising the alliance.

The four principals on Sunday held a meeting at Wetang'ula's Karen home as they intensified their brainstorming sessions.

There are reports they are planning to establish a joint secretariat to drive their alliance's operations.

(Edited by V. Graham)