Officially, Kenya is four years away from the next elections; unofficially, however, the campaigns have started, and the events last weekend show that Kenyans should prepare for another long and nasty season of electioneering.
While Deputy President William Ruto’s forays across the country, ostensibly to push the ruling Jubilee Party’s development agenda, are well documented, his political rivals are just getting off the blocks after realising — a bit late — that he might have jumped the gun.
Which is why it is not surprising that Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka — the National Super Alliance (Nasa) principal who was left smarting in the political wilderness by Mr Odinga’s shock handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta in March — and Kanu leader Gideon Moi, Mr Ruto’s main rival in the Rift Valley, are working on an alliance.
Mr Musyoka and Mr Moi plan to be the core of a broader alliance which could eventually draw in Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress and Moses Wetangula’s Ford-Kenya, two parties that are already working on a merger. Despite Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) showing an inclination to seek new allies ahead of 2022 following the falling out from the ODM leader’s “swearing-in” on January 30 and the March 9 handshake, the Wiper and Kanu leaders are understood to be open to working with it.
Mr Odinga on Monday met the Kikuyu Council of elders to, at least officially, mobilise support for the Building Bridges initiative, and a statement from his office affirmed his support for the war against corruption.
While the statement endorsed his party’s stand that no one should be spared, it also appeared to be a response to Mr Ruto’s allies, who claim the graft war is targeting the Deputy President’s support base.
Tiaty MP William Kamket, a Kanu MP and key political ally of Senator Moi, told a fundraiser in aid of Nuu African Independent Church in Mwingi, Kitui County, that he had the blessings of retired President Daniel arap Moi to bring Mr Musyoka and Mr Moi together. “Before coming here, I paid a visit to retired President Daniel Moi at his Kabarak home.
Since your son and Mr Moi are his political sons, he requested me to reach out to Mr Musyoka and broker a deal so that the two may run together come 2022,” said Mr Kamket.
Mr Musyoka worked under Moi’s Kanu government for many years, serving in various ministerial dockets, including Education, the Environment and Foreign Affairs. A closing of ranks between him and Mr Moi would, on paper, give Nasa a bigger foothold in Rift Valley and intensify the rivalry between Mr Ruto and the Baringo Senator.
Speculation that something was afoot between the younger Moi and Mr Musyoka started in April this year, when the two were captured at Kabarak, the latter being seen off by Gideon as he boarded a plane.
Any mention of the retired President in connection with a Nasa affiliate is bound to raise questions after Mr Ruto’s allies accused Gideon of blocking his appointment to see the former president, who was recuperating after a knee surgery in Israel.
Besides, since his retirement in 2003, the former President has not openly shown his hand in Kenyan politics, leaving friend and foe to decipher his every move.
Kitui senator Enoch Wambua, a close ally of Mr Musyoka, confirmed that Kanu and Wiper were in talks that would culminate in a broad alliance “committed to liberating Kenya from runaway corruption and plunder of public resources”. He said the umbrella would be the best placed to clinch power in 2022.
“All political options are on the table. We have been engaged in serious discussions with various leaders, including Senator Moi, and very soon our talks will yield good results. No ticket other than the one bringing together our party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Gideon Moi, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula will be able to win the presidency in 2022,,” said Mr Wambua.
COALITION NOT DEAD
By drawing Nasa into his 2022 equation, Mr Wambua was, without saying it, cementing the confirmation by Mr Mudavadi on Monday that the coalition is not dead yet, as claimed by ANC Secretary-General Barack Muluka and Ford-Kenya’s Eseli Simiyu.
Mr Mudavadi, while dismissing the calls by a man who, administratively, should be taking instructions from him, said that the coalition is strong and will remain so because it was not a 2017 election project.
“Nasa is intact and strong. It is ours and we should be talking about reclaiming it and not throwing away the baby with the bathwater,” Mr Mudavadi said, adding: “We are engaging coalition partners and others to see how we can make it stronger.”
Among those partners, it now emerges, is Kanu, which is also dancing with ODM. Mr Moi recently met Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, a key figure in ODM, and the two pledged to work together.
HOSTED KAMBA LEADERS
This was soon after Mr Musyoka hosted Kamba leaders in Komarock in Machakos County, and they mandated him to engage leaders across the political divide in his bid to win the 2022 State House race.
Mr Kamket said the Building Bridges initiative does not stop other leaders from forming alliances in readiness for the next elections. “We support the efforts to bring the country together,” he said. “We’ve to seek new political alignments to strengthen our chances of winning the 2022 elections.”