Tuesday, October 14, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

October 14, 2008

Raila Odinga is pleading that politicians should not discuss a boring subject like the 2012 general elections. In that he seems to be alone, preaching to the unconverted. Charles Njonjo and Stanley Githunguri don’t think so. They are ready to pitch for Raila Odinga right now.

Uhuru Kenyatta, Kalonzo Musyoka and Kiraitu Murungi also think the campaign should start now. Rumour has it that they have not only defined their lineup but they have actually apportioned among them the top three posts in the future PNU government. This decision seems to shut out other possible PNU contenders such as Prof. George Saitoti and Amos Kimunya.

While still in the PNU corner, breakaway Martha Karua and Danson Mungatana as her running mate are likely to go it alone come 2012. They have announced to all Kenyans that they are in the race just in case they could be doubting Thomases.

In the ODM corner, Raila Odinga will most probably face a round two challenge from William Ruto for the ODM ticket. In 2007, William Ruto was one of the original seven contenders for the ODM ticket before Kalonzo Musyoka and Julia Ojiambo broke away to form their own ODM-K which gave them the green light to run for the highest office. After the departure of the two, Ruto remained among the five ODM contestants and slugged it out to the very end, coming a poor third after Raila and Mudavadi. Save for Najib Balala who stood down for Raila at the eleventh hour, the remaining four ran to the finishing line.

Under the circumstances, Raila’s challenge will not be as crowded as it was in 2007. Being the declared party leader, chances of Balala, Mudavadi and Nyagah skipping the contest in favour of their party leader are pretty high. So, the ODM primary will most likely be a contest between Ruto and Raila unless Ruto changes his mind between now and December 2012.

Knowing Kenya, these may not be the only lineups by the time we go to the lections four years on. It is still possible Saitoti and Kimunya may find a common party or separate parties to launch their bids. In any case, KENDA, the party of Kamlesh Pattni has offered Saitoti the party nomination for the 2012 presidential race. Interestingly, do you see the historical link between Pattni and Saitoti? They come a long way since the days of Golden Berg.

The other person to watch is Mama Rainbow, the iron lady of Ukambani. Right now Charity Ngilu is firmly in ODM as a substantive partner. If she chooses to be behind Raila Odinga; she will be the point person for ODM in Kalonzo enclave. Chances are she will be supported by Haroun Mwau and other renegade ODM-K MPs that have fallen out with Kalonzo Musyoka.

All in all; there will be at least seven presidential candidates at the primary stage. The number will be reduced to at least four main contenders; Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Martha Karua and George Saitoti.
Of the four possible contenders, let us look at their political clout and their ability to conduct effective campaigns country-wide.

Judging by 2002 and 2007 elections, Raila Odinga has the ability to conduct his campaigns in all parts of the country with a measure of success. In 2002 he traversed all parts of the country except Rift Valley where Moi still held way. In 2007, he captured Rift Valley but lost Mt. Kenya region due to the Kibaki factor.
In 2012, chances are that he will hold huge rallies in many parts of Mt. Kenya area based on the current changing pattern of Kenyan politics.

Kalonzo Musyoka is also a likeable person. He can conduct campaigns in many parts of the country like he did in Rift Valley, Western Province, Coast and of course Eastern Province. However, if his party drops Samuel Poghisio, he will lose many parts of Rift Valley just like he lost Western province despite having Julia Ojiambo as his running mate. If Kalonzo chooses Uhuru for running mate with Kiraitu Murungi as Prime Minister designate, it will confine his party to Eastern and Central provinces. Yes, he may get most of the votes in Central and Eastern provinces; but again, this will depend on the kind of clout Uhuru Kenyatta and Kiraitu Murungi will wield with their voters.

Martha Karua is a good political fighter. She may be the spoiler with women voters in Central Province and other regions of Kenya. Many voters in Mt. Kenya may see her as the real fighter who can bargain for them in the new dispensation. She may forge a coalition with a winning team if she realizes that she may not carry the whole country with her.

George Saitoti; if he decides to run on KENDA will face many credibility issues. First he will have to decide very early whether to be a Masai or a Kikuyu. Whichever way he decides; it will reveal the other side of him to many Kenyans; that he has lived a lie most of his adult life. If he chooses to confirm his Masai lineage, nobody will believe him. If he chooses to be a Kikuyu he will have confirmed to his critics that he has always lied about his identity for political correctness. Either way, Saitoti will face the challenge of communicating his ideals to Kenyans because all his political life, he has never founded and managed a single political party.
Things may end up more difficult if he accepts Kamlesh Pattni’s offer to lead KENDA. The Golden Berg ghost may just return to haunt him at a time when he will need all the luck to vie for the elusive top seat.

Based on the above scenario; who is likely to carry the day come 2012? Can Uhuru Kenyatta galvanize Central Province behind Kalonzo? Can Kiraitu Murungi rally the Ameru behind Kalonzo? Will the Embu community fall in line with the Ameru and the rest of the GEMA fraternity?

What about Martha Karua? Will she pull it off and command the three million plus Kikuyu votes the way Kibaki and Matiba did it in 1992 and 2002?
Will Kalonzo prove to be the unchallenged king of the Akamba community or will he split the votes with Charity Ngilu and Haroun Mwau camp?

If Ruto runs against Raila at the primary and loses again, will he concede defeat and fall in line like he did in 2007 or will he break away to form his own party and run for president? Or, will he seek alliances with Kalonzo and Uhuru to stop Raila from winning the presidency? If he did that, will that change the scenario?
What of Raila; now that Kibaki and Moi are out of the way, can he pull it off without the present allies? If the current allies bolt out to other parties, can he cultivate another lineup of other allies in all the regions like he did in 2002 and 2007?

I don’t have the answers to all these questions; Kenyan voters will decide.