Details of the behind-the-scenes manoeuvres can now be revealed showing how Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka was elbowed out of the presidential ticket backed by incumbent Head of State and influential businessmen in 2013.
Mr Musyoka details in his autobiography how Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto dramatically dropped him after making him believe he would be the government-backed candidate that would have easily won with the backing of their populous ethnic groups.
Mr Musyoka writes in cinematic detail, about the tension-gripped night meeting in his Karen home, also attended by businessman Jimmy Wanjigi, in which Uhuru and Ruto pushed him out of their alliance.
Against All Odds, written with former Nation journalist Caleb Atemi and published by Peace Book Co Ltd of Hong Kong, will be launched in Nairobi on Wednesday.
It traces Mr Musyoka’s journey, from the semi-arid Tseikuru in Kitui, where he was born and grew up at a time of the Mau Mau and Shifta wars, to the second highest political office in the land and his thwarted ambition for the presidency in 2002, 2007 and 2013.
Mr Musyoka writes that when he agreed to serve as Mwai Kibaki’s Vice-President in the wake of the disputed 2007 elections, the latter had promised that he will support him for the presidency in 2013.
He blames Kibaki for not doing enough to support him and reveals the intrigues that ended with him suffering a knockout blow as the elections approached.
Although his decision to join Mr Kibaki angered the opposition strongholds, Mr Musyoka writes that it helped to save many lives and the country.
“I am sure that had I joined Raila in the dispute, the violence would have spread to my strongholds in Eastern province with disastrous consequences. This region borders Central Kenya. Because of this proximity, thousands, perhaps millions of Kikuyu immigrants live here. Had I joined the ODM side, these people would have come under attack,’’ he writes.
However, he is disappointed that Mr Kibaki failed to meet his end of the bargain and narrates the series of events that led to the betrayal.
“One day on the way to a function in Kitui in 2011,” Musyoka writes, “Kibaki made a stopover in Machakos town where he told a crowd that he had enjoyed working with me: sasa imebakia kumsaidia kusukuma ile ingine (What remains is for us to push him to the next level). Government spokesman Alfred Mutua who was present sent a text message to media houses stating that Kibaki had endorsed the VP as heir to the throne. Soon the head of Presidential Press Service Isaiah Kabira, sent out a press release denying that Kibaki ever endorsed me’’.
He then joined an alliance called G7 because its main proponents, including Uhuru and Ruto, were from seven regions of the country. He says he still hoped that Kibaki would help him to be the presidential candidate of this alliance.
But he had not reckoned with the determination of Uhuru and Ruto, who had been indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity arising from the 2007 election violence.
As the elections approached, the big question in Kenya was whether they should be allowed to run and what the consequences to Kenya would be should they run and win.
Fears that the country would face diplomatic isolation with dire economic consequences led to an attempt by some of Kibaki’s allies to push Musalia Mudavadi as a compromise candidate.
But Uhuru and Ruto exploited their cases at The Hague to mobilise support in their regions and beat back the Mudavadi project.
“Energised after beating back the feeble Musalia effort, Uhuru and Ruto turned on me. Things started from the day they returned from the status hearing conference at The Hague and started using the ICC cases to position themselves politically,’’ he writes.
However, Musyoka writes that things cooled down somewhat for him, and Ruto and Uhuru agreed on a line up for the elections in which Uhuru and Musyoka would be on the presidential ticket while Ruto was to be the Majority Leader in the National Assembly.
Then things fell apart.
“I clearly remember the night I felt betrayed by Uhuru and Ruto. This was the night our alliance died. We had agreed with Ruto that I would be on the presidential ticket, with Uhuru as my running mate or vice versa. Ruto was to be the Majority Leader,” he writes.
He continues: “Then on that night, Uhuru and Ruto arrived at my home in the company of Jimmy Wanjigi, a Nairobi businessman and political strategist. Mr Wanjigi is the son of former Kamukunji Member of Parliament and Moi era Cabinet minister, Maina Wanjigi. We walked down to the gazebo where dinner was to be served.”
It was at this point that he realised that things had changed.
“Ruto and Jimmy sat silently as Uhuru spoke: “Stephen,” he said, “We have decided that you should choose some other position, but not the presidency or deputy presidency.’’ I was stunned. I did not know at what point the arrangement we had earlier, of me being on the presidential ticket, had been changed.”
He writes that with the “wisdom of hindsight,” he now thinks the two made the decision after looking at the voter registration figures and discovering that between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities, to which they belonged, the two of them had what political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi later described as “the tyranny of numbers”.
“There was silence in the gazebo. As tension rose, Uhuru suddenly stood up, pushed his seat back and stepped out of the sliding glass door. He walked five steps to the waterfall, removed a packet from his jacket pocket and pulled out a cigarette. Holding it in his left hand, he lit it with a lighter in his right hand and furiously puffed on it. Uhuru finished smoking. He threw the smouldering stub on the ground, stumped on it with his left foot and ground it into the green grass.”
He writes that when he walked back into the gazebo, he sat down and casually said: “My brother, in the spirit of transparency, I wish to inform you that tomorrow we are flying to Bujumbura to meet with President Pierre Nkurunziza and our sister Charity Ngilu will accompany us.” They had decided to throw me under the bus. Now in effect, they were telling me: “If you do not take what you are being offered, Ngilu will take your place in our alliance.” In the end, that is what happened. Musyoka writes that after the meeting, he consulted his allies, including David Musila, and the process of teaming up again with Raila Odinga started.
Mr Musyoka was first elected in a 1985 by-election in Kitui North and rose quickly in Moi’s Kanu regime. His early political career benefits from a series of misfortunes that befell others.
His political debut comes in the 1983 snap General Election called after the failed Kenya Air Force coup attempt. He loses badly to the popular incumbent Philip Manandu.
However, less than two years later, Mr Manandu is shot dead by an Administration Policeman. Josephat Mulyungi, the front runner to replace him is disqualified after he is found in possession of Pambana, a publication labelled seditious by the Moi regime. This gives Musyoka the chance to become MP at the young age of 31.
He writes about his long service in the Cabinet, his role in peace talks in neighbouring countries having been one of Kenya’s longest serving foreign affairs ministers.
The autobiography is rich in anecdotes – from receiving a three-and-a-half our lecture by Sudan’s Hassan al Turabi, his PS Sally Kosgei almost choking on a meal in Mobutu Sese Seko’s Gbadolite palace, to being mugged on a street in Buenos Aires, Argentina during an official visit and the infamous Bull of Auckland incident in which a senior member of the Kenyan delegation to the 1995 Commonwealth meeting was accused of attempting to rape a hotel maid.