The signing of an agreement on the contentious agenda three of the Kofi Annan peace initiative between Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki could not have come at a worse time for ODM-Kenya and its leader Kalonzo Musyoka.
To begin with, Kalonzo is currently facing mounting internal rebellion within his own party as party MPs are publicly accusing him of selfishness and highhandedness. Some ODM-K MPs are already warming up to Raila’s ODM in anticipation of cabinet posts. Even more significantly, in a move that could undermine Kalonzo's presidential ambitions, NARC Chairperson and Pentagon member Charity Ngilu is reportedly forming an alliance with wealthy businessman John Harun Mwau whose purpose is to curtail Kalonzo’s influence in Kambaland. The two MPs survived the Kalonzo wave during the last general elections and were elected on their own party tickets and their alliance is rumoured to be supported by the higher echelons of ODM.
As if these threats are not enough headache, Daniel Maanzo and Julia Ojiambo have filed a case in court challenging Kalonzo’s move to nominate third-parties to parliament when a deal was reached last year that nomination slots would be reserved for them.
Back to the Raila/Kibaki agreement, this new development that gives PM-designate Raila Odinga sweeping powers as Head of Government and supervisor of all government ministries, has effectively stripped Kalonzo of his Leader of Government Business title in parliament and also placed Raila at par with Kibaki and high above Kalonzo in terms of hierarchy. And to add insult to injury, unlike Kalonzo who can be sacked through 1pm news bulletin, Raila is his own boss who can only be relieved of his duties through a vote of no confidence in parliament. What will certainly make this a bitter pill for Kalonzo to swallow is that, the agreement compels Kibaki to seek Raila’s consent on any appointments or sackings
When Kalonzo and his party Chairman Samuel Poghisio were appointed to the cabinet last month, it was a move by a politically desperate Kibaki who at that time was badly in need of numbers to boost PNU’s parliamentary strength. At that time, very few people thought that Raila Odinga’s ODM could hold out its protests against the disputed elections this far, and that the international community would put sustained pressure on Kibaki for a coalition government.
In the not-so-distant past, Raila and Kalonzo were in a single ODM-K that was at that time tipped to take over government if they remained united. As fate would have it, there were serious disagreements concerning the mode of nomination for the party's presidential torch bearer, with a Kalonzo backed Maanzo refusing to resign as the registered Chairman in favour of secretariat officials. Kalonzo defected from LDP to LPK, while Raila took over ODM and two parted ways. It is quietly said in some circles that Kalonzo was paid huge sums of money to split the original ODM-K by insisting on a still-born presidential bid. ODM insiders have accused Kalonzo of looking the other way when during the elections, ballot boxes were being stuffed in favour of Kibaki and himself in the Ukambani area just to fix Raila.
Today, matters have turned full circle and if there has to be a Leader of Official Opposition in parliament, then it will most likely be ODM’s Kalonzo Musyoka. In other words, Raila's entry in government will be at the expense of ODM-K and its leader Kalonzo.
Since yesterday when Annan met Raila and Kibaki privately, political players have intensified lobbying and it is likely that both Kalonzo and Poghisio have their fingers tightly crossed that PNU’s Mwai Kibaki does not reshuffle his part cabinet and in the process appoint him to a lesser position or even worse, send him to the back benches.
Vice President Kalonzo has been quoted on several occasions expressing misgivings about rushing into a coalition arrangement before thinking it out. Kalonzo has also extensively travelled overseas in largely unsuccessful missions of attempting to get foreign governments recognise the the now moribund PNU president and his government.
It will be interesting to watch Kalonzo’s next move this weekend especially if he is scheduled to attend any public baraza or church service within his bedrock support region of lower Eastern province.