The electoral commission has handed Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka a political lifeline by allowing him to resubmit signatures supporting his presidential bid even as his allies insist that he has joined Azimio.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had on Friday locked Mr Musyoka out of the August 9 polls on technicality after he failed to present the list of his supporters in the required Microsoft Excel sheet.
In a letter to the party’s National Elections Board chairperson Agatha Solitei, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said the outfit has until today to resubmit the signatures in the prescribed format. “The commission has considered and acceded to your request to be allowed to submit the soft copy of your list of supporters in excel format by May 29, 2022, at 9 am at the Bomas of Kenya, failing which your documentation will not be certified as compliant,” said Mr Chebukati.
The letter by Mr Chebukati was in response to a protest letter by the party dated May 27 over the decision by the commission to disqualify its presidential aspirant. The commission had early last month instructed presidential hopefuls to submit signatures of 48,000 supporters in both hardcopy and softcopy (excel format).
“During the said pre-nomination meeting, where Wiper Democratic Movement Party was represented, the commission re-emphasised the requirement that aspirants submit the list of supporters in both hardcopy and softcopy in excel format,” read Mr Chebukati’s letter.
The commission had given political parties fielding presidential candidates and hopefuls running as independents until May 25 to submit the signatures.
On Friday, the IEBC cleared 16 contestants who will now present their nomination documents for the final clearance.
There were nine political/coalition party hopefuls and seven independents. Leading runners are Raila Odinga (Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party) and Deputy President William Ruto of the United Democratic Alliance.
Mr Musyoka was among four political party candidates and nine independents who failed to satisfy IEBC’s strict demands of 48,000 supporters from at least 24 counties, proper presentation of supporters’ names and copies of their national identity cards.
But allies of Mr Musyoka told Sunday Nation that he had settled for the chief minister post that Mr Odinga had offered him.
Mr Musyoka has, however, reportedly insisted that it be anchored in law similar to the national accord that created the prime minister post in the grand coalition government of former President Mwai Kibaki and Mr Odinga, the latter having served as the premier.
Sources further indicate that Mr Odinga has agreed to hand Mr Musyoka Energy and Foreign Affairs dockets.
Mr Musyoka is said to have additionally demanded a Transport and Infrastructure docket but was told the ministry has been earmarked for Mt Kenya.
Consequently, there are ongoing talks on whether to hand the former Vice President Devolution or water dockets.
Wiper vice chairman Mutula Kilonzo Junior revealed the about-turn by his party boss, who had announced plans to run in protest against the naming of Narc-Kenya leader as Mr Odinga’s running mate.
“He (Mr Musyoka) called us to a meeting and told us to announce that he had decided to work with those who are determined to foster peace and end corruption in Kenya,” said Mr Kilonzo Jnr.
“Although we have been mistreated, we shall work with these people” he added.
The Makueni Senator said Mr Musyoka had decided to run alone to protest “mistreatment” that saw him lose the deputy president bid and to restore honour to the Kamba community.
The decision by Wiper to rejoin Azimio was also confirmed by Borabu MP Ben Momanyi, who is running for Nyamira Governor on a Wiper ticket.
Mr Momanyi said the decision was arrived at two days ago.
“We have decided as a party that we are going back to Azimio and that is why we were not seriously pursuing his candidature. We will soon begin campaigning as a team,” said Mr Momanyi.
He added, “We had agreed two days ago not to run; that is why we decided not to pursue his candidature in terms of meeting the requirements.”
Makueni MP Dan Manzo described the basis for disqualifying Mr Musyoka from the race as “ridiculous” and that can be challenged in a court of law.
Mr Manzo, however, said taking that route will make no sense since the party has agreed that Mr Musyoka drops his bid in favour of the former Prime Minister.
“It is ridiculous to be disqualified on the basis of the wrong format of signature presentation… IEBC has told us they have not issued official communication on the matter,” said the lawmaker.
“Disqualifying a candidate on the basis of format in submission of signatures is debatable even in a court of law, but because aspirants want Kalonzo not to run we may just choose to go with what the aspirants want,” he added.
Division and confusion had earlier rocked the camp on whether he should be on the ballot on August 9 or join Mr Odinga.
The Sunday Nation learnt that while the party Secretary General Shakila Abdalla and chairman Chirau Mwakwere wanted Mr Musyoka to go all the way to the ballot, other party officials pushed him back to Azimio.
Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu said without mentioning names that there are some people who were pushing a different position from that of other party officials.
“We are looking at the bigger picture and our people are saying we are better in Azimio and that is our option one. Our option two is going up to the ballot. Whatever the decision our party leader will make, we are ready to support him,” Dr Mulu said.
Another Wiper MP said the only way to be relevant in Azimio is to go up to the ballot then force a run off and negotiate on a higher political scale as compared to the current situation.
“We believe that our party leader has significant votes that deny both DP William Ruto and Mr Odinga a first round victory. This is the only route that we can take for Azimio to know our relevance,” the lawmaker said.
Political analyst Masibo Lumala faulted Mr Musyoka for his late decision making when it comes to politics saying it is work against his relevance in the political realm
“I sympathize with Mr Musyoka, he always makes decisions late, had he stayed in OKA and remained steadfast that he is going to the ballot, he would have made a difference but now his impact will be minimal. Even his choice of running mate does not inspire confidence,” Dr Lumala said.
Additional reporting by Pius Maundu