Tuesday, October 20, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
October 20, 2009

South Consultants are the new kids on the block in Kenya politics. After all, they are the eyes and ears of the African Eminent team detailing with precision the direction Kenyan reforms are taking.

They have the power to tell whether the coalition is working or not. They have the audacity to tell whether Raila and Kibaki are moving on with reforms. They can also detect with a reasonable measure of accuracy, which in the coalition government is pro or against the reform agenda. And they dutifully must report the details to our international prefects with local civil society groups as enthusiastic cheerleaders.

In their latest report just days before Koffi Annan came calling, they unleashed another report that seemed more comprehensive and predictive for Kenya. Much as Kenyans are still shy of talking elections, their report seemed to have ventured into who among the top three politicians was more popular than the rest. In their verdict they placed Kalonzo Musyoka ahead of Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki with Kalonzo beating his boss by five points on the popularity scale, a no mean achievement for a man who was a distant third in the disastrous 2007 elections.

Interestingly, immediately South Consultants released the results of their poll, 2012 suddenly loomed large on our TV screens. Kalonzo did not waste time. In a meeting in Ukambani attended by William Ruto, he quickly launched his 2012 campaign by pledging to unite three tribes to campaign against the rest of the country come 2012. When he talked of Eastern, Central and Rift Valley provinces, he could very well have had Kambas, Kikuyus and Kalenjins in mind.

To tell you the truth, Kalonzo committed no abominable sin by launching his 2012 campaign with those regions in mind. After all, his greatest challenger in the next elections, Raila Odinga also got endorsements in Rift Valley recently as he hosted Kalenjin and Meru elders in Nyanza.

But gain politics is politics. It is its nature of unpredictability that has seen Kalonzo’s most vocal critics to have come from Eastern and Central Provinces, the very regions he intends to sell to Ruto’s Rift Valley. I am not sure if Raila Odinga can today launch his presidential bid in Luo Nyanza and get elements from the same region criticizing him. But again, politics is the art of the unpredictable.

If Raila is has the grip of Nyanza, Western and Rift Valley as he seems to be the case today, fair competition should justify Kalonzo Musyoka claiming Central and Eastern. What one fails to understand is why he is not thinking Coast or North Eastern as his third province rather than Rift Valley that is already gone at least as per the last general elections?

Judging by the current political pronouncements, it would seem like Kalonzo must come out fighting hard and make outrageous statements to grab public and media attention. In this regard, the Ukambani declaration did a lot of good to Musyoka despite the negative reaction his pronouncements elicited from his own region. And as they say; bad publicity is definitely better than no publicity at all.

Kalonzo’s first hurdle that he must jump over is the simmering opposition to his candidacy from his backyard. For a long time Charity Ngilu has been regarded as his only nemesis, however, with time it would seem like his erstwhile political alter ego, David Musila seems to be drifting from him. The parting of ways seems to have been triggered by the Ringera debate inside Parliament when Musila defied ODM-K official stand and rubbished Ringera’s reappointment. He went ahead to vote with those that had opposed that reappointment very much to the chagrin of his party leader.

Looked at together with those youthful MPs that differed with Kalonzo soon after the cabinet was formed in early 2008, one can conclusively state that Kalonzo has a lot of cleaning up to do in Ukambani before he ventures into national politics, South Consulting ratings notwithstanding.

When it comes to Central Province it may be instructive for the Vice President to take note of the other big players such as Uhuru Kenyatta, George Saitoti and Martha Karua who have equally indicated that they too will be on the ballot box before he worries about the amiable Peter Kenneth from Gatanga constituency.

Finally, the Vice President should be weary of opinion polls that tend to give misleading ratings so early in the day long before the elections are announced only to be proved unreliable by the electorate.

Mr. Vice President, ignore the polls and your critics. Just hit the road and go for it because the office you are seeking cannot come on a silver plate.