Kenya Watch, Uncategorized

Musyoka and Odinga; a study in difference

Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Amolo Odinga played massive roles in Kenya’s 2007 election. And all indications are that they are keen to play prominent roles in the next year’s election, as well. Musyoka and Odinga’s political paths crossed just before the 2007 election when they joined hands and formed a formidable opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement, ODM. Together, they were well placed to do well in the polls, until their short-lived political marriage of convenience ended poorly. Kalonzo broke away from ODM and formed ODM-Kenya. Since then they have viewed each other as mortal foes, willing to stop at nothing to wreck each other’s political ambitions

In the 2007 election, Mwai Kibaki who was the flag bearer for the Party of National Unity, PNU, and Odinga who was the presidential candidate for ODM, both had realistic shots at Presidency and either could have clinched the presidency, albeit with slim margin. Musyoka, however, was distant third. While he was not able to garner the requisite votes for the Presidency, he was able to influence the outcome. Any side that he backed was bound to win.

On Election Day, the initial vote tallies showed Odinga leading the pack with a healthy margin. However, as the day wore on, Kibaki made up ground. By the evening, it was too close to call between Kibaki and Odinga. Confusion reigned. Tension rose. Panic ensued. And each side’s propaganda machine went on overdrive, adding to the confusion. Throughout this, the Kenya Electoral Commission was radio silent. This invited suspicion. And when the Commission declared Kibaki the winner, Kenya exploded. Sporadic violence broke out in major cities and Odinga immediately declared that ODM would not recognize the results. The battle royal had begun.

Slowly but surely, Kenya, once the island of peace, descended into chaos. Amidst this Kibaki announced his cabinet. And one of the principal beneficiaries was Kalonzo Musyoka. He was appointed Vice President.

With the violence threatening to slip out of hand, the African Union appointed Kofi Annan as the Chief mediator. After months of intense and sometimes rancorous negotiations, Odinga’s ODM party members joined the government, and Raila was rewarded with the Premiership. A new coalition government was born. However, there was the little matter of protocol that had to be sorted out between Odinga and Musyoka. Who was answerable to whom? In terms of hierarchy, who came first in the pecking order?

Constitutionally, the Vice President was the second in command. However, for all practical purposes Odinga’s party obtained more votes than Musyoka’s. The accord that ended the stalemate didn’t draw a clear demarcation of the roles in fine print. Despite that, the collation has continued to endure, although with rancor.

Odinga and Musyoka represent a different continuum of Kenya’s political spectrum; while Odinga has always been seen as an advocate for change, Musyoka has represented, and continues to represent the forces of the status quo. Odinga relishes being in the opposition, Musyoka on the other hand, will do anything to be in the government. In fact, all of his adult life, Musyoka has been in the government, apart from a short stint in 2002, when, after realizing he would not be KANU’s torchbearer, he shifted to the opposition. Interestingly, back then he joined hands with Odinga.

Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister

In terms of family history and philosophical orientation, Musyoka and Odinga could not be more different; Odinga was born into one of the royal political families of post-independence Kenya. His father, Oginga Odinga had a chequered political career, mostly on the wrong side of the establishment. Oginga made his name when, in 1964, he fell out with President Kenyatta, and was subsequently banned from politics. Raila Odinga grew up during these years when his father was in the political wilderness. He embraced and cultivated his father’s antiestablishment credentials. Upon his father’s demise, he took up the mantle of being a pain in the side of the government – something he seems to do with a relish, even when he’s within the government

On the other hand, Kalonzo Musyoka was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He had no family name behind him, but did not allow this to hinder his meteoric rise in politics. He did this by being a company man, through and through. Being on the right side of the current is a craft that Musyoka has perfected. He learned politics at the feet of Mulu Mutisya, Moi’s kingpin of Ukambani politics. Above everything, Mutisya’s outstanding quality was his blind loyalty to the repressive regime of Moi and KANU. Musyoka was his star pupil and never disappointed.

During the fight for multiparty reform in Kenya in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, while Odinga was on the streets being chased by police and GSU, or being transferred from one police cell to another, Musyoka was defending Moi both in parliament as the Deputy Speaker, and abroad during his stint as the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In defending Moi’s regime Musyoka was willing to go to any length. It is little wonder that now, he is leading the crusade against the ICC’s indictment of the six perpetrators of the post-election violence.

With battle lines for the 2012 elections drawn, Odinga and Musyoka are about to renew their political rivalry. Odinga, whose ODM party was generously termed ‘a force of nature’ in 2007, is in much weaker position following the decampment of his Rift Valley stalwarts led by William Ruto. Musyoka seems to have the wind behind his sails since joining hands with Uhuru Kenyatta, and William Ruto. Together, they have formed the Kamba, Kikuyu and Kalenjin, KKK, alliance . However, the ICC’s indictment of Ruto and Uhuru seems to have slowed Musyoka’s momentum. Whatever, the outcome of the ICC’s case, Odinga and Musyoka are in for an epic battle come 2012.


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