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Taking over from Raila Odinga: Inside Kalonzo Musyoka’s 2027 game plan

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Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka waves at Azimio supporters in Kawangware, Nairobi, during anti-government demonstrations on March 27, 2023.

Photo credit: Kennedy Amungo | Nation Media Group

Wiper party boss Kalonzo Musyoka has lined up a series of activities to revive political networks as he seeks to bring to his side opposition Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga’s pointmen and women across the country.

Mr Musyoka has heightened his engagements for purposes of the 2027 presidential race on the backdrop of a possible exit of Mr Odinga, who is gunning for the African Union Commission chairmanship.

The plan, the Sunday Nation has learnt, includes talking to prospective candidates in other parts of the country to align with Wiper.

AU job will not detract Raila's 2027 political ambitions: Orengo

His strongholds are Kitui, Machakos and Makueni counties.

With chances that Mr Odinga may not be on the ballot in 2027 should he clinch the AU position that runs until 2028 – for the first four-year term – some of his allies have started aligning with Mr Musyoka.

A tentative schedule of Mr Musyoka shows that he will be in Banana, Kiambu County, this morning before flying to Sotik in Bomet County for another rally.

On Wednesday, Mr Musyoka is scheduled to tour Kisii County where he will pay a courtesy call on Governor Simba Arati.

The Wiper party leader is expected to have a breakfast meeting with leaders from the region in the morning before proceeding for a meet-the-people tour in Kisii, Keroka and Keumbu towns.

He is to have political engagements in Nyamira County on Thursday before moving to neighbouring Migori County the following day.

Kalonzo Musyoka

 Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka during an interview at his home in Nairobi on December 30, 2023.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Initially, Mr Musyoka was to be in Kisii on Monday, before moving to Nyamira and Migori on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

That was, however, reviewed following the impeachment of Kisii Deputy Governor Robert Monda on Thursday.

Mr Musyoka’s handlers are said to have advised that he changes the dates because of the emotive nature of Dr Monda’s impeachment in the region.

Mr Muysoka attended a Nairobi Business Community Prayer and Thanksgiving Service on Friday.

He was accompanied by Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Makueni Senator Dan Maanzo and Embakasi West MP Mark Mwenje.

The Wiper party leader and Mr Wamalwa have been holding joint rallies amid reports that there are plans for the two – both have declared interest in the country’s presidency – to run on a joint ticket, with the Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K) head as Mr Musyoka’s running mate.

Azimio la Umoja leaders

Azimio la Umoja leaders (from left) Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, ODM Party leader Raila Odinga and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua  when they held prayers at Jevanjee Gardens, Nairobi on February 22,2023. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Mr Sifuna, who is the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Secretary-General and a close ally of Mr Odinga, has become a constant feature in Mr Musyoka’s political engagements in the capital.

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino has also been accompanying Mr Musyoka on some of his activities and meetings.

He held a meeting with Mr Musyoka at the SKM Command Centre in Nairobi on Wednesday.

Former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya is emerging as one of Mr Musyoka’s close allies.

Before becoming minister, Mr Munya was Meru governor.

Former Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria has also been accompanying Mr Musyoka to his political engagements.

In October last year, Mr Odinga gave indication that Azimio la Umoja One Kenya alliance would rally behind Mr Musyoka as its presidential flagbearer in 2027.

He later recanted the call after it reportedly occasioned jitters in the opposition.

The near-endorsement of Mr Musyoka has since seen some of Mr Odinga’s allies gravitate towards the Wiper party chief.

Senator Sifuna told the Sunday Nation that has been accompanying Mr Musyoka “since he is an Azimio co-principal”.

Kalonzo Musyoka

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka addresses a gathering at Ol Rongai, Nakuru County, during a past event. He was accompanied by Azimio leaders Mwangi Wa Iria (left) and Eugene Wamalwa (right).

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

“He is our leader. Any time he asks me to join him for an event, I will be there. He has also joined me in some of my events,” he said.

Ex-Borabu MP Ben Momanyi says the entire Azimio political network in Kisii and Nyamira counties is behind Mr Musyoka, adding that the former VP is the only viable successor of Mr Odinga in the opposition.

“I will host him before we embark on a two-day tour of Kisii and Nyamira counties. The entire Azimio team in our region is with Kalonzo,” Mr Momanyi said.

“Expect more people to join our team because Raila is likely to take the AU Commission seat.”

Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua says having served in high profile positions since joining politics almost four decades ago, Mr Musyoka has built a rich political network.

According to the senator, Mr Musyoka is also doing all he can to bring into his team fresh blood as he prepares to contest the presidency for the second time.

“The networks are important for the role he wants to play as Kenya’s president. He will lean back on those networks and bring in new faces at the same time,” Mr Wambua said.

Senator Manzo told the Sunday Nation that Mr Musyoka has many people in his circle to help him popularise his presidential bid across the country.

“Some are from Azimio while others are his old networks in the 47 counties,” Mr Manzo said.

According to Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu, the plan is to start with a small team but continue bringing in more people through the existing networks.

“What we are doing is known as snowballing, where one starts with a small team and recruits more in the future. For all this year, our work will be to identify like-minded people and convince them to join us,” the lawmaker said.

In a recent interview with the Sunday Nation, Mr Musyoka – who turned 70 on December 24 – said he would not to back any other candidate in 2027, adding that giving up his presidential ambition would mean he retires from politics.

Mr Musyoka was Mr Odinga’s running mate in 2013 and backed him in the 2017 and 2022 votes.

He contested the presidency in 2007.

“Giving up my presidential ambition would actually mean I go home. It is as simple as that,” Mr Musyoka said.

“What it means is that giving up my presidential ambition is not an option. That is basically what I am telling you.”

Mr Musyoka added that he would traverse the country this year.

“So 2024 is a watershed for democracy in Kenya. It is going to be a total approach for democracy. Let Kenyans be prepared for a lot of action this year – political and citizen action,” he said.