Kivutha, please leave Kalonzo out of your petty political shadow boxing antics!

In Summary

• A section of Ukambani leaders had laid out a scheme to force the Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya leader out of politics ahead of the 2022 presidential elections, the Star claimed.Prof. Kibwana and former Wiper chairman and Kitui 2017 gubernatorial loser David Musila were extensively quoted making unsavoury remarks against Kalonzo, with the latter claiming that Kalonzo's development record was "wanting".

• For starters, it is extremely petty for the two leaders and their ilk to attempt to confine the former National Super Alliance co-principal into a tribal political cocoon.

Wiper Leaders Kalonzo Musyoka and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana during the burial of the late Munyilu at Athi-Kiaoni in Kibwezi East on August 2016
Wiper Leaders Kalonzo Musyoka and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana during the burial of the late Munyilu at Athi-Kiaoni in Kibwezi East on August 2016
Image: FILE

The headline story titled: "Can can Kalonzo survive onslaught by rivals" that appeared in The Star of June 8th/9th 2019 cannot be left to stand on its two lame feet without the benefit of a fair and a well balanced rebuttal. 

In that story, Makueni governor Prof. Kivutha Kibwana was quoted saying he had been shown in a dream that the former Vice-President's time is up.

A section of Ukambani leaders had laid out a scheme to force the Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya leader out of politics ahead of the 2022 presidential elections, the Star claimed.Prof. Kibwana and former Wiper chairman and Kitui 2017 gubernatorial loser David Musila were extensively quoted making unsavoury remarks against Kalonzo, with the latter claiming that Kalonzo's development record was "wanting".

For starters, it is extremely petty for the two leaders and their ilk to attempt to confine the former National Super Alliance co-principal into a tribal political cocoon.

Kalonzo is not a Kamba leader -- he is a national leader with a huge following throughout the country.

In August 2017 for example, Kalonzo's Wiper Party managed to get elected MPs from diverse counties such as Nyamira, Wajir, Mombasa, Taita-Taveta, Nairobi and Tana River, through Ben Momanyi (Borabu), Rashid Kassim (Wajir East), Ali Mbogo (Kisauni), Danson Mwashako (Wundanyi), Julius Mawathe (Embakasi South) and Ali Wario (Garsen), respectively.

This in addition to scooping the majority number of elected legislators from its Lower Eastern bastion, effectively earning the enviable position of the third biggest party in parliamentary representation after Jubilee and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

How dare anyone tell a leader of a country's third biggest political outfit to leave politics? But I digress.In 2017 too, Kalonzo's Wiper Party won over 10O elective MCA seats spread throughout the country including victories in Busia, Kajiado, and Kisii.

Yet, Kivutha and his ilk want people to believe that Kalonzo's political future is dependent on the whimsical dreams of his envious detractors from Ukambani? God forbid!Had Kivutha cared to look in the direction of his immediate vicinity, he would have noticed with utter shock and fear that Kalonzo received a resounding roar of approval from his traditional vote basket of Ukambani when Wiper retained absolute control of all Ukambani County legislatures, effectively turning his (Kalonzo's) political foes -- Alfred Mutua, Charity Ngilu, and Kivutha himself -- into feeble political sitting duck governors, what with inadequate numbers to push their (governors') agendas in those assemblies!Luckily for the three governors, Kalonzo, being a man with a clean heart and goodwill, has whipped the Wiper MCAs to work closely with the county bosses so as to realize meaningful development in the counties.

So, what could be the problem with Kivutha and all those asking Kalonzo to step aside for them? I think it all has something to do with 2022 presidential succession politics. Someone -- or a group of politician somewhere -- feel threatened by Kalonzo's vantage positioning as Kenya approaches 2022. 

You see, Kalonzo is not tied up by the baggage of corruption. Neither is he haunted by past sins of shedding innocent blood, nor by bitter burning of bridges with key political figures such as President Uhuru, former Prime Minister and ODM Raila Odinga, Amani National Congress and Ford Kenya leaders Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula, respectively.

Not surprisingly, Kalonzo's affable nature and diplomatic mien has been winning him many political buddies, but also a few political foes, too.Which brings me to my next point.

Keen observers of political events have not failed to notice that Kivutha's relationship with Kalonzo made a turn for the worse when the former paid a secret visit to Deputy President William Ruto in May 2018.

It later emerged that one of the core "duties" Kivutha was tasked with was that he should do everything possible to ensure that Kalonzo is alienated from his Ukambani political base so as to split his block vote base that has stuck with him since 2007, a task that Kivutha took up with zeal and gusto.

All seemed to be going on well until Kivutha realized that the ground in Makueni was not receptive to his move and that, after all, Ruto would not be the automatic choice for successor to President Uhuru Kenyatta.And then, Kivutha panicked!Seeing how bad things were, and given that this is his last gubernatorial term, Kivutha reasoned that, even in the worst case scenario, attacking Kalonzo would draw the attention of other serious presidential contenders to either nominate him (Kivutha) as their running mate, or get him into a suitable coalition, with the hope that he would get a significant number of votes to bargain with!What Kivutha appeared to forget was that when he was elected by Makueni people in 2017, he signed a contract with them to serve them, but not to engage in 2022 succession politics.

Matter are not helped by the fact that Kivutha's flagship projects -- the Kalamba Fruit Processing and the Kikima Dairy -- are fast turning into white elephants. No milk is being processed at Kikima as we speak.

No juice is coming out of Kalamba due to lack of fruits to process n And Makueni people are not happy at all.Besides, for both Kivutha, Musila, and their ilk to ask Kalonzo to retire from politics is absurd, to say the least.

It is voters who decide the fate of politicians, not political foes! At the moment, Kalonzo is one of the top four most popular political leaders in Kenya. Why should he retire now? Moreover, he has never prevented (and neither dies he have the power to prevent) any politician from vying for any seat, including the Kivuthas, the Mutuas, and the Ngilus in this world!In 2013 and 2017 when Uhuru vied for the Presidency, other politicians from his political base, including Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua and Prof. Wainaina, also threw themselves into the ring.

They never asked Uhuru to retire so that they could run themselves, neither did Uhuru prevent them. In 2002 when Raila withdrew from the presidential race in favour of Mwai Kibaki, James Orengo saw the opportune time to undercut the then National Development Party leader at his political base, a move that cost Orengo not only his Ugenya seat but also rendered him politically irrelevant for the next five years, until he made ammends with Raila.

In 2007, Kivutha himself was soundly beaten by Kalonzo man Peter Kiilu when he thought he had the political muscle to wrestle against the political direction chose by the then ODM-K leader.

Pity is: some people never learn from history!What is this about Kalonzo being asked to exit the political scene to give way to political lightweights from his backyard? Kivutha and Co. know that, apart from having a solid political bastion, Kalonzo also has an unparalleled support from most senior leaders in Ukambani. 

In Makueni, Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior, Makueni County Woman Rep. Rose Museo, as well as MPs Daniel Maanzo (Makueni), Thuddeaus Nzambia (Kilome), Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East), Joshua Kimilu (Kaiti), Evanson Kivasu (Mbooni) are all supporting Kalonzo. Recently, Patrick Musimba (Kibwezi West) as well as former MPs Prof. Philip Kaloki and Kisoi Munyao also recently boarded the Kalonzo political train, after having read the mood on the ground.

In Machakos, the Wiper leader enjoys cordial support of MPs Robert Mbui (Kathiani), Joshua Mwalyo (Masinga), Patrick Makau (Mavoko), Mutinda Mule (Matungulu), Machakos Woman Rep. Joyce Kasimbi, Senator Mutinda Kabaka (CCU) and former Senator Johnstone Muthama, among others.In his home County of Kitui, Kalonzo can count on the loyal support of Senator Enoch Wambua, Irene Kasalu (Woman Rep.) as well as legislators Gideon Mulyungi (Mwingi Central), Makali Mulu (Kitui Central), Charles Nguna (Mwingi West), Musyimi Nzengu (Mwingi North, and Kitui Rural's Mwalika Mboni.If the foregoing facts are not a proof that Kalonzo enjoys massive support in his political backyard, then I do not know what other evidence the likes of Kivutha need to know that they are engaging in a fruitless wild goose chase by trying to undermine Kalonzo.As for claims that Kalonzo's development record was wanting, the detractors should know that Ukambani is no different from most other parts of Kenya that have suffered decades of economic depravity, and which may not necessarily be attributable to any individual politician. For example, certain parts of former President Moi's Baringo County still experience severe famine, poor infrastructure, and banditry despite Moi having been at the helm for 24 years.

Certain areas of Gatundu are still reeling from biting poverty and related alcoholism despite the constituency having produced two Presidents Independence!Besides, what is this tendency where most leaders only cite Kalonzo's "poor development record" only after they have fallen out with him?  Is this not a case of sour grapes -- that as long as they are benefiting from their association with the Wiper leader, he is an angel, but he becomes the devil when they get disadvantaged on way or the other.

When you look at Kalonzo's political history with Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua where he used Kalonzo's popularity to ride to power in 2013, only to later turn around and disparaged Kalonzo, Kenyans will understand what I mean.

The same trend has been used by Musila, Ngilu, Kivutha, and many other leaders. Politics of convenience!Bottom line: Kalonzo is the man to watch as we head towards the 2022 Presidential succession race.

Efforts by his detractors -- the pretenders to the throne -- to throw mud at him will eventually come a cropper. Kalonzo is a brand that has painstakingly been built over the years.

It will take much more than plain political heckling to dismantle it. Kalonzo's political star has never shone brighter than it is now.The resounding Embakasi South by-election victory was only a warning shot.

 Watch this space!Onesmus Kilonzo is the Head of Communication, WDM-K.