Sunday, August 31, 2008



By Mutinda Mwanzia
Sunday Standard

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka is fighting on all fronts, surrounded by ‘enemies’, in a fiercely competitive political environment.

The Mwingi North MP, charming and smiling, but beneath the veneer perceived as a stealthy but conceited and viciously ambitious politician, lately has a lot happening around him.

After initiating the ‘sacking’ of his one-time personal assistant Fred Muteti last week ostensibly for ‘spying’ on him, Kalonzo this week ran into trouble with Assistant Minister Wavinya Ndeti, who has recorded a statement with the police. The MP’s session with the police followed a spat with the VP at a presidential function.

The onset of a new dimension in the VP’s political challenges in the bedrock of his party came as details of a meeting he had in his office with a former aide two weeks ago emerged. In the meeting reportedly attended by Sports Secretary Daniel Maanzo, who is also the de jure chairman of the VP’s party.

Muteti said things got worse when the VP summoned him to Jogoo House where he was accused of "working with external forces" to undermine the Mwingi North MP.

Also present during the dressing down was former Kilome MP Mutinda Mutiso.

Muteti’s ‘sacking’, which he has disputed, arguing he was a civil servant, came soon after Mr Martin Mulwa, formerly Kalonzo’s events manager, also quit. Both were accused of ‘spying’ on Kalonzo and handing over dossiers to rival party, the Orange Democratic Movement.

Muteti also said the VP asked Maanzo to either quit the party’s chairmanship or give up his job at the Ministry of Sports and Youth.

Civil servants are barred from holding political positions. When contacted, Maanzo said he had nothing to say on the matter. "I cannot talk due to circumstances beyond me," he said.

Muteti blamed his problems on a scheme within ODM-Kenya to ‘besmirch’ his name. "Those saying I have been spying on Kalonzo on behalf of ODM are being cheap and dishonest," he said.

Muteti, a former University of Nairobi student leader, has had a long relationship with Kalonzo.

Before the dust settled on the furore away from cameras, eight MPs, six of them associated with the agitation for Grand Opposition in Parliament, stormed his political turf.

Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo, who though elected under Kalonzo’s ODM-Kenya party, chose not only to ‘rebel’ against him but also to attack him on the national platform, hosted them, under the banner of a homecoming party.

It was not the homecoming party that raised eyebrows, but the surprise guests, who belong to the ‘Grand Opposition’ bandwagon being fought, not only by Kalonzo but President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Present were Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo, Dr Bonny Khalwale (Ikolomani), Mr Eugene Wamalwa (Saboti), Mr Charles Nyamai (Kitui West), Mr Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany) and Mr Mithika Linturi (Igembe South)

Also present was Deputy Prime Minister and Kanu chairman Uhuru Kenyatta.

Through language and disposition the ‘oppositionists’ made it clear there would be hard days ahead for the Grand Coalition for which Kalonzo is a leading member as are Kibaki and Raila.

Wavinya claimed the VP accosted her, claiming she was among a clique of Kamba MPs fighting him. "We met during the laying of a foundation stone for a new cement factory in my constituency where the VP accosted me."

Wavinya threatened

She added VP’s claims against her made her feel threatened. "When a politician feels threatened, common sense dictates that one seeks protection since the consequences are obvious," said Wavinya.

The alleged incident occurred on Monday in Athi River and the statement was booked in the Occurrence Book, number 16/29/09, at Parliament Police Station.

Wavinya is perceived to be among Kamba MPs who have ‘rebelled’ against Kalonzo. Charles Kilonzo (Yatta MP) and Kiema are counted among the rebels.

Wavinya said she had decided to go public over her tribulations, which "began before the General Election".

"I was rigged out during the ODM-Kenya nomination last year, but made it to Parliament through a little-known political party. I know some people were not happy," said Wavinya.

She claimed during the spat with the VP, he told her he had pushed to have her appointed assistant minister. Kalonzo’s personal assistant Kaplich Barsito termed Wavinya’s move as unfortunate. "I do not want to talk over the issue," Barsito said.

When Kalonzo and Raila parted ways last year, Muteti and Maanzo were the only officials at the secretariat who stuck with the VP. A former Kalonzo driver and aide, Muteti also served as national co-ordinator of the ‘No’ campaign in the 2005 referendum on the constitution.

"Anyone accusing me of being close to Raila is narrow minded since I have known the PM for a long time," he said.

Once accused of being ‘overzealous’ in pushing Kalonzo’s agenda in the original ODM and later ODM-Kenya, Muteti’s relationship with Kalonzo soured soon after the party leader was appointed VP.

"He told me my services were not needed and that it was better if I worked with Mutula," he told The Standard on Sunday.

Muteti also claimed the VP urged Mutula to do away with him as he was a liability to the party. An internal memo to Muteti from Mutula dated August 26, urged him to clarify whether he was sabotaging the VP. "I have been asked to seek a job elsewhere," said Muteti.

But former events manager Mulwa cited "personal reasons" for his resignation. "I felt I needed to go back to my previous businesses. I have never in any way undermined the VP," he said.

He, however, regrets his efforts in making Kalonzo’s campaigns a success, especially in Ukambani, were not appreciated. "I am being vilified for no apparent reason. I’m not a spy," said Mulwa.