ODM Nomination: Kalonzo and Ruto in catch-22 situation

Now that ODM-K has established a National Executive Committee and National Elections Board (NEB), the political future of William Ruto and Kalonzo Musyoka will begin to unfold quicker than any of them would like. I say this because Raila Odinga is the one candidate that destiny and political logic dictate should face off president Kibaki in the 2007 presidential contest. Whichever way we look at it, ODM-K nomination, as Raila himself keeps saying, will be a mere formality to declare the obvious truism that trophies belong to the dominant.

The vexing issue in ODM-K is that the eight politicos aspiring for its ticket are presumably equal and must conduct themselves as such even when it is obvious that Raila is the lion among them and despite George Orwell’s caveat that some animals are more equal than others. That is precisely why Ruto is free to declare himself the best candidate without creating any fuss but the same utterances are “orange blasphemy” when uttered by Raila. To be sure, Raila himself is partly responsible for creating the illusion that all of the Kenya’s seven provinces must have presidential aspirants in ODM-K.

Probably Rail was only flattering his colleagues when he nudged them to declare their candidature but some seems to have taken the flattery too serious to afford the dignity of giving up their presidential ambitions and presumptive state house hopes of their tribesmen without ‘losing’ in a hard battle presided over by all inclusive NEC and NEB. In other words, the real value of ODM-K’s NEC and NEB is to perform the political rites of passage for the installation of Raila as the ODM-K’s candidate. With the formation of NEC and NEB the duo of Kalonzo and Ruto are about to run short of excuses for delaying an early nomination of Raila. And when this happens, the political veil on the duo would have been lifted to reveal minnows for what they have been all along-free riders!

Let us start with Ruto. Not being a child of privilege, unlike his political rivals in ODM-K and the Rift Valley in particular. Ruto’s candidature is both daring and seductive for having achieved to be taken seriously on the big political stage in Kenya. Yet from the beginning the presidency was never his goal at least in the immediate future. With the Moi clan and its acolytes still hanging around, Ruto’s immediate goal is to become the de facto political chief and power broker in Kalenjin land. Unfortunately, emerging wisdom in Kenyan politics is that if your goal is to walk 100 km you need to pretend that your destination is 1,000 km away. In Ruto’s political orbit this means that to become de facto leader of the Kalenjin, he must seriously pretend that he wants the presidency as soon as 2007.

The dilemma for Ruto lies in the fact that though the Kalenjin do not mind being flattered by his ambitions for state house, deep down they know that he is not a safe route to state house in 2007. You see the Kalenjin, as they keep shouting with greater frequency, are not used to opposition politics. Since Orkoiyot Samoei – Ruto’s alleged great grandfather, incidentally – the Kalenjin have always been on the side of power. Their loyalty to the British is too notorious to require comment and as soon as KANU defeated KADU in the 1963 elections, their leaders quickly closed ranks with old Jomo at the expense of Jaramogi Odinga and his ‘socialist’ alies.

Viewed this way, Ruto is starkly aware that if he does not broker a deal with either Kibaki or Raila, his erstwhile supporters led by Henry Kosgey, Kipkalya Kones and Sally Kosgei will make their own deals and he has no sufficient clout to prevent it. Thus Ruto can only stay relevant by joining the Kalenjin crowd which is already drifting towards Raila. Being a wise man, it is no wonder that Ruto is already saying that all ODM-K aspirants must begin to imagine the party’s candidate could be someone other than themselves. Don’t be surprised when he takes his counsel sooner than you imagined.

This brings our spotlight to Kalonzo. For a man of his humble background, we may never tell how much Steadman helped to spoil Kalonzo. The typical Narc-K ‘startegists’ are less inclined to reflection than their ODM-K counterparts but even the dumbest among the lot sees in Kalonzo the best prospect for the presumed imminent break-up in ODM-K. Besides hubris, there are good grounds for the instinctive convictions of the Narc-K brigade about Kalonzo.

Like Ruto, Kalonzo has a domestic political war of supremacy he must finish before he can seriously join Kibaki and Raila on the big stage. It is a pity that the trophy for winning the referendum was not political power otherwise the Kamba votes would all be in his basket to dispense as he wishes. To Kalonzo’s advantage, though the Akamba generally tends to be loyal to the government of the day, like the Kisii and Simeon Nyachae in 2002, he is likely to carry the day if he vies for the presidency in 2007. Thus whilst Ruto’s candidature is a non-starter among the Kalenjin as long as his prospects are dim, Kalonzo will anyway bag the Kamba if he contests. There is however a critical difference between Ruto’s and Kalonzo’s ambitions.

In all probabilities the Kalenjin majority will stay in ODM-K whether or not Ruto is its candidate. However, Kalonzo cannot count on the Kamba majority to stick with him in ODM-K unless he is the candidate. Moreover, if only Kalonzo’s hubris will permit him to see his real chance to get to state house will be higher in 2012 than 2007 when the GEMA communities are unlikely to have a strong candidate. The dilemma for Kalonzo is that in order to have a real chance to reside at state house he must contest in 2012 if only to lose and spoil for Raila. Thus even as circumstances compel Kalonzo to throw barbs and sulk at Kibaki all too frequency, his real rival in 2007 is Raila for whom he must spoil the race in order to get the trophy himself alter. This is precisely why the formation of ODM-K’s NEC and NEB ushers the calm before the storm that ahs Kalonzo and Ruto in its eye.

Kibe Mungai

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One Response to ODM Nomination: Kalonzo and Ruto in catch-22 situation

George Kariuki said...

Kibe - "Their loyalty to the British is too notorious to require comment" - Every Kenyan knows of the Nandi resistance in colonial times. It's one of the few things that defined Pre-independence struggle with Mau Mau