Thursday, February 21, 2008



By Jerry Okungu

The genie is out of the bag! Daniel arap Moi has finally declared his support for President Mwai Kibaki in the forth coming general elections in Kenya. This is the same President who humiliated him at Uhuru Park on December 30, 2007 during the handing over ceremony.This is the man he campaigned against during the 2005 referendum vote which the President went ahead and lost to the Orange Democratic Movement.

Daniel arap Moi’s open support for Mwai Kibaki is not surprising but telling all the same in more ways than one. It is not surprising because he constant bashing of the Orange Democratic party, whether led by Kalonzo or Raila Odinga group has been telling. He has never hidden his loathing for the man who humiliated him at the polls in 2002. He has not been in a hurry to forgive or forget.

No w that the genie is out of the bag, whoever wants the presidency in Kenya must be prepared to fight, Kibaki, Moi and the political system that is now controlled by the Kibaki regime. Now that Moi has jumped into the fray, one thing is almost certain; Biwott’s KANU will for sure join Kibaki’s band wagon come the general elections. Now that Moi has anointed Nicholas Biwott his point man in Rift Valley, it will be a miracle if Biwott chats a different path from Moi’s and backs another candidate.

Moi’s open support for Kibaki also seals Uhuru Kenyatta’s fate. His ambitions for the presidency in 2007 must now be shelved since his mentor has spoken. He must bid his time until 2012 when Kibaki will be out of the way for Moi to give him clearance if Moi will still be around that is. Yes, five years is a long time in politics. Yoyote yaweza kutokea (anything can happen in between). More importantly, if Uhuru Kenyatta still needs Moi’s baby sitting, the he must be prepared to throw his weight behind Daniel arap Moi’s anointed prince for the epic battle. In 2002, Uhuru Kenyatta was Moi’s prince but the prince lost to a commoner.

The 2007 elections are beginning to take shape. They are increasingly becoming different from the last one. In 2007, there were two Kikuyus fighting for the presidency. One was Moi’s project; the other was Raila’s project. Raila’s project beat Moi to the polls and Moi; the self-styled professor of Kenyan politics was not amused. This time around, Moi has switched projects. The very man who beat him at the polls is this year his project while Uhuru has been asked to bide his time; at least for now!

On the other hand, Raila Odinga is this year his own project. In this scenario, there are no Kikuyu votes to divide since the House of Mumbi will solidly support one of their own; the only one in the race. Therefore, they are expected to vote to the last man wherever they are. In this scenario, one can expect that every Kikuyu with a vote will crawl to the polling booth except a dead one!

With this new development; never mind that it was expected, Raila and company must go back to the drawing board if they have to encounter this avalanche combined force of Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki campaign machine and the colossal government machinery that will be at their disposal.

Can the combined force of Raila Odinga, William Ruto, Musalia Mudavadi, Joe Nyagah, Najib Balala, William Ole Ntimama, Omingo Magara, Chris Okemo, Chris Obure, Anyang’ Nyongo and Charles Njonjo tilt the scales in favor of an ODM presidential candidate? Will Kalonzo Musyoka and Julia Ojiambo join the Baba na Mama band wagon or will they troop back to ODM to join forces with their referendum colleagues?

I am not a soothsayer but this much I know; if Kenyans end up with Kibaki, Raila and Kalonzo as presidential candidates, the pending elections will be like no other in Kenya’s political history. The reason I say this is because for the first time, there will be only a Kikuyu, Kamba and Luo presidential candidate fighting each other at the elections. And this time a former president will team up with the current president to forestall the impending regime change!

The shifting alliances on Kenya’s political scene can only point to one old adage; and Daniel arap Moi’s behaviour best exemplifies it in Kenya; that a politician is that insidious and crafty animal, vulgarly called a statesman, whose councils are directed by momentary fluctuations of affairs.

When Adam Smith, the Scottish Economist uttered these words almost 300 years ago, he definitely had a deeper insight into the thinking of politicians. Hardly five years have since Daniel arap Moi boycotted Kibaki’s inauguration luncheon after a very embarrassing Uhuru Park ceremony that led invited presidents to leave in a huff. A few months later, Kibaki’s regime just fell short of stopping Moi’s pension let alone contemplating prosecuting him for “crimes” he was alleged to have committed while in office. Had it not been for Raila who came out to tell the government to leave the retired president alone, we would today be writing a different script.

In 1992, a Luo and two Kikuyus ran for the presidency and lost to a Kalenjin.
In 1997, a Luo, Luhya, Kamba and Kikuyu ran for the presidency against a Kalenjin and lost again.

Flashback to 1962 when Kenya was on the threshold of self rule from Britain, the combined force of Luos, Kikuyu, Kambas and Kisiis fought against KADU, the party that had the backing of the colonial Governor and British government and won the elections. KANU party had no funding to match colonial resources that were readily available to their KADU blue-eyed boys. Yet, KANU trounced KADU at the polls because the message that the people of Kenya could relate to could only come from the KANU party led by Jomo Kenyatta, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya, Achieng Oneko, Paul Ngei and Lawrence Sagini.

Forward to 2002; the combined opposition alliance comprising of Kikuyus, Luos, Kambas, Masais and Luhyas was able to beat the incumbent forces of Daniel arap Moi and pockets of Moi diehards that could not decipher the wind of change blowing across the country.

I am saying that the only two occasions when a powerful and entrenched political system has been beaten at the polls were in 1962 and 2002 when the combined force of Kikuyus, Kambas, Masais and Luos has been unstoppable. Every time they have gone their separate ways like they did in 1992 and 1997, they have always lost the elections to the incumbent no matter how unpopular the regime has been.

The reason a combination of Kikuyus, Kambas, Masais, Luos, Luhya and Kisiis has been exciting to the electorate has always been its representation of the face of Kenya that Kenyans have always yearned for. Yes, one can argue that six tribes cannot be the face of Kenya; yet when you look at the combined population percentage that they represent, they can easily count for 60%. The truth is ordinary Kenyans are usually never interested in ethnic divides. They hate tribalism. Only their political chiefs are capable of driving them along tribal lines. Left alone, they would not bother who rules this country.

So, what is in store for Kenya should we end up with Mwai Kibaki, Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga as presidential candidates? Who will lose and who will win at the polls?

President Kibaki enjoys the presidency and a powerful resource base both from public coffers and his wealthy backers. The truth is; the constitution of Kenya protects the President until a new President is sworn in. This means that the state resources will be available to the President on a 24 hour basis 7 days a week until after the elections. He will use government machinery to traverse the countryside at the public’s expense without violating the constitution.

President Kibaki will also enjoy tacit support from the provincial administration all the way from the grassroots to the provincial level not to mention the use of intelligence arms of government that will gather vital information on the ground.
He also has an opportunity to induce votes with new districts, parcels of land, universities, airports, power lines, roads, water wells, health centers and any other service a particular community may demand from the government at this critical moment in his presidency.

With these head start advantages, only a very lackluster incumbent can afford to lose an election.

President Kibaki starts with a block of 3 million Kikuyu votes that are already in the basket. He will also comfortably reap a substantial number of votes from the greater GEMA areas of Embu and Meru even though there are pockets of rebellion in those regions.

The large number of Kikuyu votes in the outskirts of Nairobi and the Kikuyu Diaspora in the Rift Valley and parts of Kenya may give him another one million votes at the end of the day.

However, looking at the confused political situation in the country, especially the increasingly fragmented opposition, chances of Kibaki reaping from the confusion by garnering votes from non- Kikuyu communities are very real. Right now, a number of Kenyans, especially from the minority tribes may want to go to bed with the devil they know rather than the angel they are not sure of. Such votes will most likely be found in parts of Luhyaland where Moody Awori and Musikari Kombo are still strong supporters of the regime, Kisii, where Simeon Nyachae and several ministers are in the Government of National Unity, North Eastern, Coast Province and Rift Valley where Moi still thinks he is a factor.

If there is a huge turn out of voters on polling day, chances of Kibaki getting 5 million out of the 14 million votes are very high considering that he will have the best financed election machine among the three contenders.

Kalonzo Musyoka’s candidacy is in a tricky situation. His popularity was going down hill even before he defected from LDP to NPK and moved out with the entire Kamba MPs to pitch tent in Machakos town, the greater Ukambani headquarters. Moving to Machakos to issue a scathing attack on his colleagues was a wrong move as depicted in the front page of the Standard newspaper of August 15, 2007. In that issue, there were two telling pictures juxtaposed on the front page; the upper page showing Raila, Ruto, Ole Ntimama, Mudavadi, Balala, Nyagah and Magara. The lower picture had Kalonzo, Mutula Kilonzo, Kilonzo Kiema, David Musila and a host of other Kamba MPs with Julia Ojiambo lost in the crowd.

What these two front page pictures did not spell out even though it was obvious, was the fact that the ODM picture on top of the page showed the face of Kenya while the ODMK picture below showed the face of Ukambani. In other words the split in ODMK that left Kalonzo with a broken orange, symbolized a contest that pitted Kambas against Kenyans!

Whether we like or not, whether Kalonzo Musyoka still believes he is the best man to beat Kibaki or not, the fact still remains that the split in ODM has hurt him more than it has hurt any body else. The fact that he rallied his troops to Machakos rather than to Kamkunji in Nairobi or Embu the headquarters of Eastern Province was equally telling; that he may not even be in a position to command votes from his province considering that he has to share the 2.4 votes from that region with Charity Ngilu, Joe Nyagah and Narc Kenya operatives like Kalembe Ndile and company.

Defecting from LDP and moving to little known National Labour Party of Kenya of Julia Ojiambo was as ill-advised as it was reckless. Kalonzo’s handlers should have told him to join Uhuru’s KANU faction if they were strategists worth talking about. But they led him to burn his bridges with the party he had worked for so hard for close to five years.
Defecting to Uhuru’s KANU would have made more sense because he would be trooping back home to the Baba na Mama party with KANU’s old guards in toe and Moi would have forgiven him for his sins of 2002. Now he has joined a party whose chairperson cannot even win a constituency seat.

Compared to Kibaki, Kalonzo is definitely a non- starter on the campaign trail.
His Kamba supporters will not have the guts to campaign in all parts of Kenya because they have been branded tribalists. Compared to Kalonzo, Kibaki has Moody Awori, Raphael Tuju, Mukhisa Kituyi, Simeon Nyachae, Danson Mungatana, Musikari Kombo, Ali Makwere, Kalembe Ndile and Joseph Munyao to give him the Kenyan look before he ropes in GEMA operatives, Nicholas Biwott and now Chebii Kilimo as his campaign team. Therefore given between Kibaki and Kalonzo at this point in time, any right thinking Kenyan would be attracted by the Kibaki team than Kalonzo’s whose campaign team is visibly tribal.

Raila Odinga will enter the arena as a combination of both Kibaki and Kalonzo.
He will not have the state resources that Kibaki will have but he will have the energy, substantial well wishers ready to bet their resources on him and the drive to compensate for his lack of incumbency. He will most likely use the tactics KANU used against KADU in 1962 and what he used against KANU in 2002. And by the look of things, he seems acutely aware that beating an incumbent is a tall order and requires extraordinary skills and charisma to beat the odds.

Unlike Kalonzo Musyoka, he has not gone tribal in assembling his campaign team.
A look at his campaign headquarters, the ODM office and his personal handlers; it is a mixed grill of all manner of tribes. He has a Kikuyu for a personal secretary, a Mluhya for a driver and several campaign team members from all corners of Kenya.

ODM, unlike ODMK has Joseph Nyagah from Eastern Province, Najib Balala from Coast, Raila Odinga from Nairobi, William Ruto from Rift Valley, Musalia Mudavadi from Western, Omigo Magara from Nyanza, Anyang Nyongo from Nyanza, Charles Njonjo from Central Province and William Ole Ntimama from Rift Valley. This makes a total of seven provinces represented in the ODM campaign team.

Coupled with the fact that the Muslim Community has endorsed his candidacy publicly, one can state without any fear of contradiction that ODM is now fully represented in all the eight provinces of Kenya.

This line up will give Raila’s team a stronger Kenyan face than Kibaki’s come the actual campaign period. More importantly, as the Kibaki team from Central Province gears up to traverse the country, Raila’s predominantly Luo political backers have taken a back seat based on the recognition that this presidency cannot be fought on a tribal line. They are saying that Raila needs space to form his own alliances and sell himself to all Kenyans without being branded a Luo.

By the look of things, chances are that this scenario will change drastically several times over as alliances will keep shifting from time to time. Right now nobody knows for how long Uhuru will remain sitting on the fence. If he reunites his KANU with Biwott’s New KANU, they may shop for a partner that will ensure their place on the high table in the next government.

Chances of Kalonzo Musyoka also defecting one more time to join a winning team between Kibaki and Raila are also on the cards.
Having lost out in ODM fraternity, Kalonzo may be desperate enough to join another camp that has the ability to beat the Raila team. Whether he will still have a following after defecting and re-defecting is another matter altogether.

However, one thing is for sure; if the present ODM team sticks together after picking their torch bearer; then they will be the party to beat.