Elections reveal Raila's new partners and what each brings to the table

Saturday November 16 2019

From left: ODM leader Raila Odinga, governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Alfred Mutua (right) show their support for ODM's candidate in the Kibra parliamentary by-election, at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation on November 2, 2019. The teamwork reflects the reinvention and realignments shaping up ahead of 2022 polls. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The November 7 Kibra by-election was a melting pot in which the hype of the Handshake (detente between President Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga), Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the 2022 General Election boiled over.

Those are not the issues that rule the lives of the dirt poor of the slum-dominated constituency.

And the dramatis personae came from far and wide, reflecting the reinvention and realignments shaping up ahead of 2022.

Raila Odinga: Brought the VIPs who purported to campaign for Mr Imran Okoth, the candidate of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) which he leads.

The visitors appeared in awe of Mr Odinga, President Kenyatta (Handshake) and BBI. Just 21 months ago, he was being packed off either into a retirement home or to prison for treason.

His 2017 post-poll resistance and illegal swearing in created uncertainty which the Handshake stopped. Now, he is the unelected powerhouse eyeing the power of State House.



Ann Waiguru: Vilified as the goddess of graft by Mr Odinga, she was hounded into quitting her powerful post of Devolution Cabinet Secretary and enviable place at President Kenyatta’s elbows in 2015.

But in 2017 she was elected Governor of Kirinyaga and is today touted as a possible Number Two in an Odinga administration. They struck a deal.

Ms Waiguru withdrew her defamation suit against him and now leads a lobby that promotes the detente between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta. Little wonder she branded Mr Okoth as the Handshake candidate.

Governors Wycliffe Oparanya, James Ongwae, Kivutha Kibwana and Alfred Mutua: They represent the crop serving their final terms and looking for new opportunities.

Apart from Mr Ongwae, they have each strategically declared interest in the presidency.


In Kibra, they sent messages to their tribes people to vote for Mr Okoth and by so doing aligned their communities with the Handshake and the next dispensation.

Charity Ngilu: Her presence alongside Dr Mutua and Prof Kibwana forced absent Kalonzo Musyoka, her foe today, ally tomorrow, into the frame.

He previously ingratiated himself to the Handshake table, but obviously did not get into its inner sanctums.

When Mrs Ngilu was in trouble over graft as Water minister, Mr Odinga defended her. But she switched to Jubilee, ran for the Kitui senatorial seat in 2013 and lost.

Appointed Lands Minister in 2013, she was sacked over graft in 2015. Kitui elected her governor in 2017. Mr Odinga has since renewed acquaintances.

Maina Kamanda: As President Kenyatta’s close ally, his public antipathy for Dr Ruto speaks volumes.

He remained adamant that the President’s and Jubilee’s candidate in Kibra was Mr Okoth and not flag bearer McDonald Mariga.


That exposed the chasm between President and Deputy and cast the former as hapless, having earlier welcomed Mr Mariga as party candidate.

William Ruto: He was increasingly viewed as the face of thievery and Mr Mariga fingered as his apprentice. Confirmed: If he runs for president or premier he will be typified as a thief.

Punitive administrative and legal actions have seen his high profile allies take to the hills.

Mr Odinga & Co campaigned to bury the DP more than they complained on behalf of Kibra’s dirt poor.

Dr Ruto’s political stock has dwindled as the fire of attrition trained on him has spread.

Nick Salat: Kanu’s Secretary-General represented party chairman Gideon Moi in Kibra. An alliance between Mr Moi and Mr Odinga threatens Dr Ruto at home.

But Kanu is a pale shadow of its former self. Mr Kenyatta quit to found his own party in 2012. Kanu underwent electoral meltdown in 2017.


With Jubilee divided, Kanu diminished and ODM hamstrung, party politics is at a nadir.

A void has opened up for the emergent Handshake alliance to fill.

Moses Wetang’ula, Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka: They were outfoxed by Mr Odinga yet again.

He betrayed them for the Handshake, denied them a share in political parties’ funds and whitewashed them in Kibra by-election.

Now ODM says it’s quitting National Super Alliance because the troika betrayed their poll pact by competing in Kibra. False. Mr Odinga has new allies and is, as usual, discarding used ones.

Significantly in his trademark football analogy he named Ngilu and Waiguru in Team Handshake Combined and lumped Ruto, Wetang’ula and Mudavadi in Team Tangatanga Combined.

Prognosis: Mr Odinga is ascendant ahead of the BBI report hence the return of vitendawili and football-isque commentary.

Cunning attempts were made to foist the unpublished report on Kenyans via the Kibra laboratory. Beware!

[email protected]