Despite almost all opinion polls showing former Prime Minister Raila Odinga the preferred candidate over his NASA colleagues Musalia Mudavada, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka & Moses Wetangula, it appears that a strategic decision has been made to have Kalonzo Musyoka as the NASA candidate based on the fact that the former Vice President does not carry the baggage that Raila brings into each general election.
Raila carries the baggage of the 1982 attempted coup; the 2007 post-election violence and various corruption scandals associated with him and his family, during his term as Minister and Prime Minister in Kibaki’s first and second terms.
Kalonzo on the other hand has no corruption allegations against him except for an issue related to NYS farm in Yatta. He has never been associated with anything else. He has also been portrayed as a victim of Moi, Kibaki and Raila political machinations over the years; which makes him appear a sympathy vote across the country. NASA research has also shown that Kalonzo does not attract the kind of deep resentment that Raila attracts amongst the Kikuyu and Kalenjin.
In fact the Kalenjin consider him their child because of his loyalty to Moi; while Kikuyus feel he stood by Kibaki at a difficult moment in Kibaki’s presidency. This indicates that both communities – which are highly suspicious of a Raila presidency – would be comfortable with a Kalonzo presidency if it came to that. In addition a NASA candidate who does not attract deep feelings would also mean a low turnout from the Jubilee strongholds who are already disappointed with Uhuru. A low turnout from Jubilee strongholds is a prerequisite for NASA to win after recent registration showed that Jubilee’s tyranny of numbers is still alive.
Kalonzo is also quite acceptable to the international community due to his years as a Foreign Affairs Minister. Raila on the other hand is viewed with deep suspicion by the international community due to his unpredictability.
However Raila would have to fully support Kalonzo for the former Vice President to have any chance of beating Uhuru. If Raila retires from politics as some fear might happen after this new development Kalonzo will face serious voter apathy in Nyanza and parts of Western Kenya.
But Kalonzo still has to overcome the hurdle of a NASA delegates meeting scheduled a month’s time where his candidacy is meant to be officially announced. There are also fears that forces around Raila could use the period of one month to scuttle the Kalonzo train and keep Raila as the flag-bearer. The resistance to Kalonzo around Raila will mainly come from some primarily Nyanza politicians who have depended on Raila’s presence on the ballot paper to win their own local elections.
Time will tell.