Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s central role in the bipartisan talks between President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga places him at the centre of the political course going forward, with his allies seeing it as a stepping ground for a 2027 presidential run.
A former vice president believed to have a say over a solid two million vote bloc, the 69-year-old has shaped an international image having served as a Foreign Affairs minister and maintained key links to foreign leaders and organisations.
Musyoka has backed Odinga since the 2013 election and is convinced that it’s time he made a second attempt at the top seat after his last debut in 2007.
His elevation as the lead opposition negotiator in the ongoing talks with President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance now puts him at a vantage point compared to other Azimio la Umoja One Kenya principals, elevating him above Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua – Odinga’s presumed deputy, following her role as running mate in last year’s election.
Apart from addressing the challenge of the high cost of living, Musyoka and his coalition are keen on the restructuring and reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), establishment and entrenchment of the office of the Leader of the Official Opposition and the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary.
Musyoka’s confidant, Makueni Senator Dan Maanzo, told The Weekly Review that they were keen on ensuring that the National Dialogue Committee co-chaired by the Wiper leader and National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah “expeditiously addresses issues on the table,” before they can train their guns on the 2027 election. He disclosed that Odinga’s Azimio coalition was “very serious” with Musyoka’s 2027 candidature and they expect the entire team to rally behind him.
Even though Odinga has not publicly declared that he would not make another stab at the presidency, Musyoka’s camp now sees Karua as the possible impediment to his candidature, owing to the ODM leader’s brother Dr Oburu Oginga’s recent allusion to Odinga retirement.
Oginga recently stirred the hornet’s nest in Nyanza when he appeared to endorse National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi as the best bet to take over Odinga’s role as the Luo political supremo. According to a Wiper legislator, Karua believes that since she served as Odinga’s running mate in the last election, she is the most suitable to carry the coalition’s flag in 2027 should Odinga hang his boots.
But Maanzo argues that since Kenya Kwanza is keen on the entrenchment of the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary in the constitution, it was also good for the opposition in regards to the 2027 horse-trading. “We can have Kalonzo as the presidential candidate and still retain Karua as his running mate and possibly make Raila Prime Minister,” Maanzo remarked.
Another battle frontier that could pity Musyoka against Karua is, if the dialogue committee approves the establishment of the Office of the Official Opposition Leader and agrees to have a deputy. Musyoka’s allies are keen on having him hold the office either as the Opposition Leader should Odinga excuse himself or as his deputy should he agree to take up the position.
This could further strain the Wiper leader’s relationship with Karua who, by virtue of serving as Odinga’s running mate in the last poll, plays second fiddle in the opposition ranks. Political analyst, Prof Macharia Munene, of the United States International University (USIU), argues that Musyoka’s presence on the negotiations table will have political ramifications. “He is essentially there to try and secure a respectable job for himself and since Raila is not hanging his political boots, Kalonzo has a chance to redeem himself politically and not necessarily through Azimio,” Prof Munene says.
Senate Deputy Minority Leader and Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua however, insists that “Wiper is an integral, solid and firm partner in the (Azimio) coalition.”
“Our future plans as a party are clearly spelt out in our Constitution. But if you are asking me about the political direction, then it should please you to note that Wiper is ready to field a Presidential candidate in the next elections and form government in full solidarity with other coalition partners,” Wambua told The Weekly Review.
Prof Munene argues that Musyoka needs his own outfit, not an Uhuru/Raila creation, adding that the Wiper leader’s political fortunes are irrelevant to Ms Karua whom he says is also keen on running for the top seat in 2027. Karua is however, yet to state her political future, even though she has stitched a political grouping dubbed – Kamwene, consisting of Mt Kenya leaders that says its main concern is to fight for the rights of the people of the region.
But keen to cajole the government side to agree to the implementation of the key dialogue committee agenda, Musyoka last week disclosed that they would now recognise President Ruto as legitimate, even though he later appeared to rescind his statement after Mr Karua insisted that the coalition had not agreed on the matter.
Days later, the Wiper leader however, enjoyed a camaraderie with a section of government officials during a State House banquet organized for the visiting Heads of State and government on the sidelines of the climate summit, setting tongues wagging on what he was up to.
But Machakos Deputy Governor Francis Mwangangi, a member of Musyoka’s Wiper party came to his defense, disclosing that the former vice president did not breach any protocol by attending the state function.
“That was a State function and His Excellency Kalonzo is a diplomat who is very passionate on the climate agenda. He attended the event simply because he approves of the recommendations made at the summit to address the climate change,” Mwangangi told The Weekly Review.
Wambua insisted that the expectations of Wiper are not different from the expectations of all the Azimio-OKA affiliate parties.
“We hope that the issues that have been frontloaded by our side for discussion will be successful,” the Kitui senator said. His Makueni counterpart Maanzo said they expect Musyoka as Azimio presidential candidate come the next election. “He (Musyoka) should be our candidate unless Azimio do not want to send Ruto home,” he said.
Maanzo said they were hopeful that the talks will bear fruits and lead to the restructuring of the IEBC to level the playing field in 2027.
He, however, warned Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua against what he termed as negative energy to frustrate the dialogue.
“We have seen the President has been positive about the dialogue but it is Rigathi who does not want the talks. We are not interested in their differences in Kenya Kwanza because our team led by our party leader is ready to discuss all the items including that of entrenching the office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary held by Musalia Mudavadi into the constitution,” said Maanzo. Mwangangi said Kenyans want the talks to succeed so that they can have a stable country.
“If we can achieve ending the rampant post-election chaos through the talks, we shall be able to ensure investors and international community’s confidence and develop our country,” the Machakos deputy governor said.
On Friday, Gachagua trashed the Azimio-Kenya Kwanza talks, terming them a waste of time.
He claimed to have asked Ichung’wah, the co-chair of the dialogue committee to stop wasting his time on the role and instead concentrate on working for his Kikuyu constituency electorates.