How do you solve a problem like Kalonzo?

Kalonzo Musyoka

Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka performed one of his famed political somersaults in March when he endorsed Raila Odinga’s presidential bid a third time, having last year declared that he would be the most stupid person to do so.

On Tuesday, Mr Musyoka displayed similar acrobatics, showing up for the running-mate interview after publicly stating he wouldn’t attend an exercise he considered demeaning.

A wag in our office WhatsApp group, watching a video clip of the former vice-president being ushered into the interview room at a city hotel, remarked that he is the only consistent politician in Kenya. Come to think of it, that was a very ‘Kalonzoish’ thing to do!

His appearance before the selection panel must have brought a sense of relief for the guys on the Raila campaign, coming on the back of a week when the Wiper leader had prophesied a humiliating defeat for their candidate without him on the ticket.

With less than three months to the ballot, they will probably also be praying that they have seen the last of the Kalonzo-style somersaults this election cycle.

That must be quite a tough prayer to say for anyone who has watched Mr Musyoka’s political moves over the past two decades. It gets even tougher if you look at the circumstances under which he ended up endorsing Raila.

Mr Musyoka, suspicious of Mr Odinga after their falling-out in the 2017 Nasa coalition, reluctantly joined the Azimio coalition, dragged by President Uhuru Kenyatta. So, unlike in the past two elections when they voluntarily negotiated a deal, they are in a much more complicated relationship this time round, with a matchmaker in the mix.

Recent public pronouncements by Mr Musyoka on the running-mate standoff, in which he dropped the President’s and Mr Odinga’s names, suggest that he doesn’t feel he has been getting enough attention from both the partner and matchmaker. Like every other senior politician in Kenya, the Wiper leader also suffers from the Kingpin Syndrome – the irresistible impulse to mark and zone out others from their perceived ethnic territories.

He has not taken kindly the sights of Mr Odinga occasionally hanging out with his emerging political rivals in Ukambani such as governors Charity Ngilu, Kivutha Kibwana and Alfred Mutua.

Former State House chief of staff Nzioka Waita, who is vying to be Machakos governor, has accused the Wiper leader of trying to elbow candidates in other parties in Azimio out of the Ukambani race.

Then there is the hostage-taking of Mr Musyoka by a group of local politicians whose personal careers literally depend on hanging onto the Wiper leader’s coat tails. Just how do you solve a problem like Kalonzo?

An ideal situation for this group would have been Mr Musyoka running for President to create a localised wave in Ukambani for them to ride.

But they reckon having him as Mr Odinga’s running mate could still work for them.

[email protected] @otienootieno


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