Monday, August 9, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

August 7, 2010

Now that the referendum votes are in, let us focus on its impact that is still two years ahead.

Like the 2005 plebiscite, it may be foolhardy to focus on the promulgation and eventual implementation of the various provisions of the new law without talking about the next big election just around the corner.

Knowing Kenya’s political class, it will be surprising if we don’t see them embark on the 2012 elections immediately. Further still, it will be another surprise if new parties, the Green Revolution Party and the Red Democratic Movement are not already registered as the new kids on the block in readiness for the 2012 battle. The Orange Democratic Movement, the Orange Democratic Movement of Kenya and the Party of National Unity, all were born out of the 2005 referendum campaign.

The reason why forming new parties is inevitable is informed by the fact that in this last referendum, new players and new alliances were formed on both sides of the divide. The greens had ODM, ODM, PNU, NARC KENYA and smaller parties that were struggling to get noticed. Even some of the clergy campaigned for the referendum under the Green banner. On the other hand, the Red corner also had leading Evangelicals, ODM, ODMK and PNU members such that it was difficult to credit any party with either the success or loss of the plebiscite vote. It was a proper mixed grill.

Based on this scenario, it cannot be farfetched to imagine that come 2012, new alliances will emerge at the national level some of them involving strange bedfellows that may not have seen eye to eye during the referendum. The mere fact that Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki have finally found a working formula after eight years of trial and era informs us that nothing is impossible in Kenyan politics.

Yet, as Mwai Kibaki retires from the scene, Kenyans should expect a fresh battle for supremacy in Mt. Kenya region that is likely to regroup and realign the leading lights in Meru, Embu and Central Province districts. Without Kibaki, one expects that Kiraitu Murungi, Uhuru Kenyatta, Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua and Joe Nyagah will fight it out before a new leader emerges in the region. And as it is, the gods of Mt. Kenya seem to have favoured Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth, Kiraitu Murungi and Joe Nyagah with the referendum results. They read the mood of their people and got the votes they wanted. Mutava Musyimi seems to have been the only big name that did not read the mood of his people right despite having ousted Joe Nyagah from his constituency just two years ago.

In Ukambani, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Kiema Kilonzo, Charity Ngilu, Mutula Kilonzo and a host of big guns that lost the plebiscite vote either way are better advised to go back to the drawing board. Much as the VP and Minister Charity did not lose outright; they passed the Rubicon by a whisker but the same cannot be said for Minister Mutula Kilonzo and rubble rouser Kiema Kilonzo. Their respective constituents differed with them rather loudly. This scenario may call for serious political realignment in the Kamba region considering that their sympathies are now found in every major political party unlike in 2007 when they were all wipers except for Charity Ngilu and a few other independents.

For Kiema Kilonzo, if William Ruto thought he had found a strong point-man in the region for 2012, he had better think again because Kiema lost the vote not just in Eastern Province but he actually failed to deliver his own constituency. It is the kind of performance one cannot rely on in national elections.

However, since Charity Ngilu, Kalonzo Musyoka and Mutula Kilonzo seemed to have found a formula for working together, and seeing how they all did not do exactly well during the referendum, they may just join forces to form a strong team before they look for outside partnership. In this alliance, Kalonzo may bring his strength as the senior most Mkamba to have ascended to the number two slot in the republic of Kenya. Charity will bring her clout as a national leader, a past presidential candidate and one that resonates well with other ethnic communities across the country. She is very much at home among the Luo, Luhyas, Kikuyu, Masaais, Meru, Embu and the Coast. She is a leader that commands a lot of respect among other national leaders. Mutula Kilonzo, though in his second term in Parliament, he is the one man that has pushed through the new constitution under his watch as Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. When he took over the docket from Martha Karua, he promised that he would deliver and he has delivered. For this reason the whole country and the international community now see him as a serious leader despite his dismal performance in his constituency during the referendum.

If this trio comes together, chances are that all Kamba leaders will rally behind them and provide them with a formidable bargaining power at the national level.