Former Vice-President and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka recently opened a can of worms when he publicly declared that in case the presidential term limit is altered as part of the much-talked about forthcoming referendum, he will be ready and willing to support President Uhuru Kenyatta – who is on his last five-year constitutional term – to continue as President, that is if the incumbent wishes to carry on.
The former Vice-President was speaking during a meeting of elected and other leaders from his Ukambani backyard, a forum in which, seeing that Kalonzo is insisting on another presidential bid, he would have used to drum up support for himself. Yet there he was, pledging allegiance to an incumbent who has more than once, particularly during an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, poured cold water on the possibility of staying in power beyond his legally permitted duration.
Absent during Kalonzo’s meeting were the three governors from his home turf, Kitui’s Charity Ngilu, Makueni’s Kivutha Kibwana and Alfred Mutua of Machakos. Aside from forging symbiotic economic partnerships between their counties, the three governors are believed to be working towards a united front in seeking alternative political leadership for their region, with Wiper chairman Kibwana, who is more often than not cited as one of the more popular success stories of devolution, emerging as a potential presidential candidate. These developments, whether politically significant or not, have prompted Kalonzo to act fast.
Already, President Kenyatta is enjoying a near monarchical status, what with his hitherto fiercest critics now being his loudest cheerleaders, thanks to the handshake and its attendant reverberations. Therefore for Kalonzo to then decide that it would be a good idea for the sitting President to keep ruling Kenya – because it won’t be governance any more if Uhuru shows president-for-life tendencies – is absurd to say the least.
Sycophancy, they say, comes in different shades, forms and sizes.
But pray tell, what would make a whole former Vice- President, former Minister for Foreign Affairs – among other respectable positions previously held by Kalonzo – stoop so low as to surpass his not-so-distant pronouncements of becoming President Kenyatta’s errand boy?
If we look closely, one thing becomes evident.
The big thing from Kalonzo’s remarks is not that he is desperate to see President Kenyatta continue at the helm of the executive. It is that Kalonzo has suddenly realised that there could be a ploy to use the anticipated constitutional changes to distribute seats among a select group of senior politicians, and that his only way of gaining entry into that group of the chosen few is by aligning himself with the President, unashamedly.
In this game of constitutional review poker, Kalonzo has quickly sensed that it is the President and Raila Odinga who are holding the most lethal cards, some hidden below the table, which cards will decide how the 2022 game goes.
Seeing that Raila is as sly as they come, having sneaked out of Nasa and entered into a private deal with the President, Kalonzo has realised he has no choice but to court President Kenyatta.
Raila, after all, has a long list of probable beneficiaries. Were he to place his cards on the table where the spoils are being shared, there are no guarantees that Kalonzo’s name will feature, what with the Johos and Oparanyas of this world, senior figures within Odinga’s ODM party and regional kingpins in their own right, who are serving their last terms as governors and will need soft landing on the national stage.
It is with this realisation that Kalonzo has weighed his options, deciding to place his chips with President Kenyatta, whom he hopes, after adequate praise singing, might look at the man from Tseikuru with leniency. For this to happen, Kalonzo knows he has to outdo himself, because it is not like President Kenyatta doesn’t have his own long list of names to consider from his side of the divide.
Therefore as we condemn Kalonzo for stooping too low, we should equally thank him for exposing his lot, a bunch of political hustlers who have joined President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga in wanting to use the anticipated referendum not for the benefit of Kenyans, but for the benefit of a small clique of friends.
The handshake is already shrouded in mystery and conjecture, and now with revelations coming from the likes of Kalonzo that things are getting heated – spoils are already being shared – it is advisable that Kenyans take the former Vice-President at his word, and look at all politicians suspiciously.
As politicians plan, plot and scheme – like Kalonzo who has decided to go all out – Kenyans shouldn’t be caught flatfooted. They should stake a real claim in the referendum, if it ever happens, and secure their collective interests.