Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka is a man facing a dilemma: Damned if he does, damned if he does not.
The former vice-president is stuck between a disappointed opposition base that wanted him to follow National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga and take an “oath” as the people’s deputy president, and his own conscience that has written off the event as unconstitutional and detrimental to his chances at the presidency in 2022.
Although Mr Musyoka has explained that his absence at the January 30 “swearing-in” was a strategy, he still remains largely a lone man in owning up to the “tactical decision”, accused of being a traitor, a coward and an untrusted friend.
That he now wants an audit of the Raila oath before he takes his own has given the clearest indication that the soft-spoken lawyer might not follow his boss to take the oath former Attorney-General Githu Muigai said is “high treason”, punishable by death.
“I have personally struggled at night over this matter. Kwa sababu watu wananitupia machafu wanasema (because people are calling me names) I’m a watermelon, but I am none of that.
"A time comes when you have to stand and explain. Once the people know we are not cowards and we play for the team there is nothing to worry about,” Mr Musyoka said of the oath he is to take after Mr Odinga following a meeting with women leaders in Athi River on Tuesday.
But even his own assurance that he is not a coward, and that he will take the oath, has been impeded by some of the statements he makes, and he on Tuesday suggested that he had hesitated to take the oath because of a plot to arrest him and charge him with treason, a crime he says would have locked him out of the 2022 State House race.
“We need a serious analysis of the situation before I take oath. I could have been put under a difficult condition.
"They would have made it impossible for me to secure a bond, and even cancel my passport. They would have made sure I don’t vie in 2022,” Mr Musyoka said, betraying the cause of the “oath”.
On Wednesday, the Nation could not reach Mr Musyoka for a further comment on his chances of taking oath, or whether his terming it illegal had removed every chance of it happening.
Wiper deputy secretary-general Peter Mathuki said the “swearing-in” was “diversionary” and could keep Mr Musyoka away from focusing on his 2022 bid.
“Of course we know that Kalonzo will be sworn in (as the people’s deputy president after Mr Odinga). But what we really look forward to is for him to be sworn in as the president of Kenya in 2022,” Mr Mathuki told the Nation.
However, he said that the oath was being discussed by the principals, who will communicate on the way forward.
Mr Musyoka, Mr Musalia Mudavadi of Amani National Congress (ANC), and Mr Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya all skipped the “oath” on January 30 in what they later said was a strategy — but one that has underlined what insiders say could be a breakaway from Mr Odinga to form a 2022 alliance.
“In my opinion, Mr Musyoka should now forge his own path towards his political future,” ANC secretary-general Barrack Muluka told a television station on Wednesday saying the “oath” was for Mr Odinga to repackage himself for a 2022 run for State House, his fifth in his sprawling political career.
That Mr Musyoka has doubts about the oath has been in the public domain, but what has not been clear is whether or not he was the one who failed in communicating his misgivings to Mr Odinga and, later, their supporters, or whether he had been carried away by the fanatic Nasa support base that wants him to be “sworn in”, no matter the consequences.
In all, Mr Musyoka has a fundamental problem with this path: The State seems cagey about arresting Mr Odinga but could be quick to pounce on Kalonzo, and with the withdrawal of his security and the revoking of his gun licences — later overturned by the courts on Friday — he is, really, a cornered man.
The dilemma is that, while he may have a genuine fear for his arrest and his life after the “oath”, the ramifications of not doing so — however unconstitutional and legally meaningless — would be monumental, and might mean forging a completely different alliance in 2022 to have a real chance at the top job.
FUTURE OF NASA
Wiper deputy party leader Farah Maalim, a close associate of Mr Musyoka’s, refused to discuss the specifics of the claim of his party boss and the two Nasa principals’ plan.
However, he was not hopeful of the chances of the coalition surviving until the 2022 political season.
“The country is at a crossroads,” Mr Maalim said on Wednesday, “and it is difficult to predict the future. All I can say is that the two coalitions — Jubilee and Nasa — are collapsing. A search for totally new formations has just begun.”
Mr Maalim had opposed the “swearing-in” from the start and has, in the recent past, come out to ask Mr Musyoka not to go ahead with it.
Fifteen days after the Uhuru Park event, Mr Musyoka, who at one point was overcome by tears during a press conference to explain his absence at the event, has become akin to an assistant captain who, after the captain scores a goal, however disputed, says it was a strategy to field less players, and demands to be given the ball again.
Only now, the stadium is not as full, the fans not as excited, and the strategy is only owned by him, with the captain never saying he had indeed allowed him to be away.
Will he do it? Only time will tell.