Nairobi Star Newspaper Wycliffe Muga: Kalonzo Musyoka is Losing Race for 2012 President

Sometime in 2002, I had a long talk with a friend of mine who, in those days, was widely believed to be well informed on the thinking of former Moi's inner circle.

He asked me a question: Would I like to know who the next President of Kenya would be?

I told him I wanted to know not only who this person would be, but also how he knew.

And this was the analysis he laid out:

With the recent "merger" between the President's party, Kanu, and the National Development Party (NDP) led by Raila Odinga, the marginalisation of the Kikuyu community was now complete, he told me. The "professor of politics" (as Moi was commonly referred to back then) had a team that was certain to win the next election.

There would be a constitutional amendment to create the office of the Prime Minister, which would be occupied by Raila. And beyond that only one question remained to be answered, and this was who would be the next President, and who would be the VP.

He pointed out to me two prominent Cabinet ministers of the time - Kalonzo Musyoka, and Musalia Mudavadi. And he asked me to note that the political careers of these two men had been greatly assisted by the President in many ways, both small and big. These two men were the President's favourites, agreeable and respectful younger men who could be relied on to do what was expected of them, once Moi retired.

"One of those two will be the next President, and the other will be his VP," he assured me. "Just wait and see".

Of course, history did not obligingly fall in line with this predicted scenario. First Moi, in a move which shocked both friend and foe, selected Uhuru Kenyatta as his chosen heir. And then Raila, whom Moi had considered as firmly in his corner, led a rebellion against the President, which culminated in the joint opposition parties supporting Mwai Kibaki for the Presidency.

Far from being permanently marginalised as my friend had predicted, the Kikuyu community emerged more empowered, and with the certainty that the next President would be from their community.

Currently, Raila is the PM; Kalonzo is the VP; while Mudavadi and Uhuru are deputy prime ministers.

So even though my friend was proved wrong in the specifics of his calculation, it's more or less the same cast of players that he discussed with me all those years ago, who are still at the forefront of national politics.

And the odd thing is that although on paper the VP would seem to still have a good chance of finally making it to State House, recent events suggest that he is actually falling far behind the others in the race.

When I say that his chances look good on paper, I refer to such things as his vast experience of diverse government ministries over the past decade or two; his skill as a public speaker; and the fact that when he ran for President, even though it was perfectly obvious that he could not win, he still retained the loyalty of his regional voting block.

But then we also have to bear in mind that "the Kalonzo wave" in Ukambani was not really a "wave" in the fullest sense: at least four MPs from that area were elected on party tickets other than his. And these included his archenemy, Water Minister Charity Ngilu. Such a thing has never been possible for those who opposed either Kibaki or Raila in their own backyards.

Then more recently, he has had a series of political setbacks. First, he strongly supports the reappointment of Justice Aaron Ringera to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and then Parliament votes overwhelmingly to nullify that appointment.

Then the VP joins other MPs from Ukambani to argue that the former MD of the Kenya Bureau of Standards, Dr Kioko Mang'eli, was victimised because of his tribe, and the Head of the Civil Service, the PM and the President supported Mang'eli's exit.

So he was in effect slapped on one side of the face by Parliament, and then on the other by the Executive — all within the same week.

None of this suggests a man who is steadily accumulating influence ahead of a decisive move towards the presidency.

And it's all very strange in-deed. For on paper, Musyoka has excellent credentials for the top job, and really should be at the very forefront in the race for the presidency in 2012.

Wycliffe Muga comments on topical issues.

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