For Kalonzo, inconsistency and political culture are obstacles

Saturday March 4 2017

Kalonzo Musyoka, a co-principal of the National Super Alliance, in Nairobi on January 20, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kalonzo Musyoka, a co-principal of the National Super Alliance, in Nairobi on January 20, 2017. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Whether Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka will be the flag-bearer of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) or not will be determined by answers to three questions. Will he sustain his leadership strategy to propel him to continued engagement with his colleagues in Nasa? Will the Kenyan political culture eat his ambitions for breakfast? Will Nasa hold their primaries through a universal suffrage or a college system?

Kalonzo buckles under pressure. He is likely to succumb to the political heat in the Nasa kitchen. The Nasa principals will be shifting, not just their focus, but also that of the entire coalition, to offering themselves and their political ideas to their voters.

The former Vice-President will need to outsmart his colleagues. In our view, Kalonzo will fail to think, act, and influence individuals and teams to advance his competitive advantage in the Nasa coalition. Going by his history, he is likely to take a walk from the coalition.

In the run-up to the 2007 elections, he parted ways with his colleagues in what was then known as the ODM-Kenya Pentagon (Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Charity Ngilu, William Ruto and Najib Balala). He cited political pressure, intimidation and lack of democracy as reasons for quitting. He went on to run an unsuccessful presidential campaign besides scattering the ambitions of the opposition parties. In the run-up to 2013, he joined Raila Odinga’s Cord having been frustrated in his coalition with the Party of National Unity.


Going by his history and the likely intensity of heat in the Nasa political kitchen, it is very likely that Kalonzo will not be the Nasa flagbearer. Like before, he will exercise his dissatisfaction by voting with his feet.

Will the political culture eat Kalonzo’s ambition for breakfast? The political culture in Kenya is consistent in two things. The culture is consistent in forming and abandoning political parties and coalitions even before the ink dries up. Recently, Cord left the scene and in came Nasa. Earlier, several political parties merged to form one, the Jubilee Party.

The other consistent in Kenya’s political culture is the half-hearted reference and aspiration to democracy. Almost every political party aspires to be democratic. The practice is, however, far from a semblance of democracy.

The decision on the Nasa flag-bearer will be made at a breakfast meeting. In other words, through the consensus route. Democratic ideals will not inform it. Rather, it will be driven by a sense of entitlement rather than competence and the vision for Kenya.


The principals will be fronting arguments such as “I am the most qualified; therefore, I should be the flagbearer.” Others will be suggesting that they have sacrificed in the past, and now it is their turn. Others will be saying they have a block of voters locked and ready and that this should make them the flagbearer. Others will threaten to walk out of the coalition if they are not picked to be the presidential candidate. Kalonzo’s presidential ambition will be eaten at the breakfast meeting.

Nasa, with all its claim to democratic ideals, will most likely not nominate its flagbearer through  universal suffrage. Neither will it go the way of the college system. Nasa is a coalition of political parties with members drawn, for now, from Wiper Democratic Movement, Orange Democratic Movement, Amani National Congress and Ford-Kenya. These parties have their membership structures that have yet to coalesce into any electoral colleges. On the other hand, the alliance cannot risk universal suffrage for fear of infiltration by their opponents. They have only one option, through a consensus. With this route, Kalonzo will not be the presidential candidate for Nasa.

Martin Oloo is an advocate of the High Court and a teacher.