Uhuru handed PNU ticket as Kalonzo retreats to ODM-K!
In 2002 KANU was a powerful political machine but the disgraceful management of the Moi succession ended its 40 year grip on power. We are now in 2008, KANU is virtually dead and signs are that we shall be going to an all important constitutional referendum in 2009 and possibly a general election shortly thereafter followed by Kibaki’s retirement.
Recent reports indicate that the PNU succession structure has been finalized and not so surprisingly, the so called president’s principal assistant, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has been upstaged by KANU Chairman Uhuru Kenyatta as the preferred torch bearer of post Kibaki PNU. Not totally unexpected, but ever since Kalonzo was persuaded to pressure the ECK into announcing controversial presidential results on the premise that he would be given the Vice President’s docket plus several cabinet positions for his party ODM-K, he has fallen over himself wooing the GEMA voters. He has visited Central and Upper Eastern provinces at any given opportunity in the mistaken belief that the rich GEMA vote basket would be his for the taking following Kibaki’s retirement. It brings back memories of 2007 when Kalonzo persistently and unsuccessfully attempt to court the Rift Valley vote through the AIC church.
The last time I checked, Kalonzo was playing amateurish politics assembling Dubai bound councillors and telling that he had no qualms with them undertaking the Harun Mwau sponsored trip as if he has any powers to stop them in the first place. Kalonzo further assured councillors that ODM-K would sponsor a motion in parliament proposing a salary raise for civic leaders, forgetting that only a few months ago, millions of Kenyan workers were denied their annual salary increase during Labour Day celebrations by none other than President Kibaki! Many political observers believe Kalonzo and Uhuru’s moves to dissolve ODM-K and KANU is being driven the fear that these two parties cannot pass the acid test that is the Political Parties Act 2007 The two politicians have been singing the unity song since the formation of the grand coalition.
Now it emerges that the blessed PNU succession line-up features Uhuru as 1st Vice Chairman (read presidential torch bearer), a very reluctant Moses Wetangula as 2nd Vice Chairman (read running mate – words that have no meaning in Kenya’s volatile politics), Mutula Kilonzo as Secretary General and George Nyamweya as Organizing Secretary. The Treasurers position is being reserved for rebels and all of the top PNU positions are to have two deputies.
With a retirement bound Kibaki being given the Chairman’s post, Kalonzo’s name had initially been proposed for the high sounding Deputy Party Leader post, but events on the ground became too hot forcing PNU to abandon the Party Leader post and in the process left Kalonzo without any significant party position. Clearly, the PNU structure has been crafted with Kibaki succession / general elections in mind and with the political parties act hovering above their heads, there is no other option but to call for the dreaded grassroot elections.
Interestingly, the PNU top line-up does not feature FORD-K, FORD-P, SHIRIKISHO, SAFINA or any of the other numerous parties that supported Kibaki’s bid for the presidency in 2007.
To complicate the PNU succession equation even further, KANU ‘owners’ led by ex-President Moi have disowned Uhuru’s move to dissolve the independence party by flatly refusing to join the PNU bandwagon.
Even more significantly, Mzee Moi is said to have finally accepted that Agriculture minister and ODM pentagon member William Ruto is now politically superior to himself and his favourite son Gideon Moi in so far as Rift Valley is concerned. In other words, Moi is using the elders to send an olive branch to the ODM, especially Raila Odinga who many observers opine will be the man to beat in the next general elections.
Mzee Moi is keen on rehabilitating his son Gideon back into the national political platform through KANU, a party that has been lying on its death bed since the December 2007 general elections. Given Moi’s strong emotional attachment to KANU, rather than have the independence party dissolved like Chairman Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have decided, the senior Moi recently invited Kalenjin elders to his palatial Kabarak home to apologise for his mistakes in 2002 (read backing Uhuru) and 2007 (read backing Kibaki).
In the meantime, George Saitoti and Martha Karua are watching events in PNU with a keen eye. Saitoti is planning to use his massive wealth to sponsor candidates in the PNU grassroots polls so as to have an upper hand when the PNU National Delegates Congress is called to choose national officials and the party torch bearer. Saitoti is banking on Kibaki to endorse him as successor due to their closeness and also by virtue of being the senior most of all PNU presidential contenders.
Martha Karua, whose popularity in Central Province is worrying Uhuru Kenyatta, has declared that her interest for the presidency is real and that NARC-K will not be dissolved for the sake of PNU unity. Karua’s chances of mounting a serious presidential bid is largely influenced by her long time association with the civil society and if James Orengo’s experience is anything to go by, then Karua will be in for the shock of her life when election results are announced. As it is, she lacks the prerequisite resources in terms of finance and the vital grassroot representation at the district and locational levels. Her defence of ECK and PNU earlier in the year makes her an instant enemy in most parts of Kenya and she would require to shelter under the massive political umbrella of Raila Odinga’s ODM to be gradually accepted nationally.
The game is on, will PNU survive or will it go the KANU way?