Saturday, February 7, 2009



February 6 2009

The most daring thing he has ever done, says Dr Bonny Khalwale, the Ikolomani MP, was joining the 1982 abortive coup against the government of former President Daniel arap Moi. At the time, Dr Khalwale was a first year student at the University of Nairobi. With five colleagues, among them Dr Shem Ochuodho, Mr David Murathe and student leader Titus Adungosi, now deceased, the MP stormed the Voice of Kenya station (now Kenya Broadcasting Corporation) and announced that university students were in full support of the coup. Dr Ochuodho and Mr Murathe became MPs after the start of pluralistic politics.

On August 1, 1982, the coup plotters, among them their leader Hezekiah Ochuka, an Air Force captain, were taken aback at the blind courage of the young men.

Nonetheless, they allowed the students to make their statement to show that their cause had wide support.

“I can’t help but laugh when I think about it today,” says Dr Khalwale. “I never even thought about the danger I was exposing myself to.”

But he quickly adds that he would willingly put his life on the line again if he believed that it was in the best interest of the nation. “I always act on my convictions.

"I believed what I was doing was the right thing then. And if called upon to rise once again, I shall not fail,” says the 49-year-old father of seven.

That dare-devil act, at the age of 22, earned him a one and half year suspension from university. But he has no regrets — that bravery launched his political career.

“People at home realised that I had leadership qualities. Perhaps they thought I was a little bit weird, but they gave me a hearing nonetheless,” says the fourth born in a family of 10.

Narc wave

But it was not until 20 years later that he made it to Parliament. He first clinched the Ikolomani seat in 2002 on a Ford Kenya ticket, riding on the Narc wave that swept independence party Kanu from power.

“That victory was the culmination of many years of struggle and hard work. It was indeed sweet victory for Kenyans who were yearning for radical reforms,” he says.

Prior to winning the seat, he had cut his political teeth as the Western Province coordinator of the National Convention Executive Council, the opposition outfit that pushed for reforms during the Moi era. Being an official of NCEC provided him with an ideal forum to interact and sell his agenda to the people.

Other members of the NCEC at the time included Mr Mwai Kibaki, now the president, Mr James Orengo (now Lands minister) and Prof Kivutha Kibwana.

“Some of these people seemed genuinely concerned to be reforming this country. I cannot say the same of most of them who are in government today,” says Dr Khalwale.

His most memorable moment as a member of the NCEC occurred in 2000 in Busia Town. Police abruptly disrupted a meeting attended by Mr Orengo and Mr Murathe among other vocal critics of the Moi government. This intrusion forced them to flee for their lives, abandoning their vehicles as they made for the bushes.
We walked 20 kilometres through the bush, dodging the police. We were certainly getting lost when a Good Samaritan eventually gave us a lift to safety in Kisumu,” he remembers with a chuckle.

Sadly, their struggles and sacrifices seem to be coming to naught. He noted the continuing grand corruption in the Kibaki era as proof that the ideals they struggled for had not been achieved.

“Our people are disillusioned. If anything has changed, then it can only be for the worse. For those of us who are dedicated to reforming this nation, we realise that the struggle is far from being won.”

It is this realisation, he says, that is currently guiding him in Parliament. Perhaps more than any other politician in the Tenth Parliament, Dr Khalwale has captured the psyche of the nation the most.

His fight against graft in the House has rendered him a political enigma, a political puzzle to crack. Some people think that this fight is garlanded with deep-seated personal ambitions.
Others wonder whether he is really the reformist he has packaged himself to be, a political mercenary as claimed by some, a champion of the people, or just a rebel without a cause.

“I was born into a peasant family. It naturally follows that my allegiance and cause will always be with the common man,” says Dr Khalwale who mentions former Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa, now deceased, as his political mentor.

He is the chairman of the powerful Public Accounts Committee. The committee has acted as the official opposition in the absence of a real one following the formation of the coalition Government.

He names some of his best friends in Parliament as Gitobu Imanyara, Mithika Linturi, Ekwe Ethuro, Charles Kilonzo and Kiema Kilonzo.

In this group, he has become outspoken against corruption, stepping on the toes of some of the most powerful leaders in the country in the process.

He has put Agriculture minister William Ruto on the spot over the maize scandal. The country is said to have lost more than Sh800 million to briefcase millers and unscrupulous businessmen.

But the most enduring image Kenyans have of the Ikolomani MP as far as fighting corruption is concerned comes from last August when he moved a motion to censure former Finance minister Amos Kimunya over the controversial sale of the Grand Regency hotel, renamed Laico Regency.

The speech, with its refrain “Kimunya must go”, stands out for its passionate nature.

“I do everything I do with a passion. It is therefore very easy for people to misconstrue me as having a personal agenda,” he says.

Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, a friend turned harshest critic, says Dr Khalwale is a “political gun for hire.

He is not affiliated to any group, which ideally makes him a gun for hire. He cares less about common man, he is only interested in furthering his own personal ambitions,” says Mr Namwamba.

But his friend Linturi, the Igembe South MP, judges him from a different angle. He reckons that Dr Khalwale is and independent-minded person.

“It is therefore easy for people to misconstrue him as having hidden agenda. But having worked with him for a year now, I believe that he is genuine in what he does,” says Mr Linturi.

He has been mentioned among those eyeing the post of leader of official opposition when it is finally entrenched in the Constitution.

“I will lobby for that position when the time comes. For now, I will do the best I can at PAC and if my colleagues see it fit to elect me to the seat on account of my work, I will be grateful.”

Although he states that he has the interest of the common man at heart, this position seems to be contradicted by the fact that Dr Khalwale is a staunch opponent of taxation of MPs’ perks.

He has been quoted saying that such a move would render legislators “as poor as their constituents.”

“That recommendation was meant to hoodwink the public. I am not against taxing our salaries. I only called for a constitutional amendment that would obligate all MPs to pay taxes without appealing to their philanthropic nature,” he explains.

The son of an industrialist, as he refers to his mother who used to make and sell chang’aa (alocoholic brew) to make ends meets, attended Malinya Primary School in 1967.


He joined Musingu High School for his ‘O’ levels between 1975 and 1978, then Kakamega High School for ‘A’ levels from 1979 to 1980. In 1982, he was admitted to the University of Nairobi to study medicine, specialising in gynaecology.

Dr Khalwale has several wives although he declines to say how many. Three of his children have completed university while the fourth is at university. Two are in primary school.

He loves bullfighting and watching soccer and boxing. His favourite tipple is Tusker, taken strictly on weekends. His favourite food is ugali (maize meal), beef and the traditional vegetable mrenda.


Submitted by beejaychester
Posted February 06, 2009

I like this Khalwale- Just because Ruto is rich with his corruption activities abound- The wanainchi should not live in fear of him. The power rests with the people and not Ruto or any other Individual. You have our support to expose all those looters Khalwale- History will judge you well on this brave acts of safeguarding public trusts.