News 2008


Working with Kalonzo is a betrayal, ex-MPs tell Kibaki

Saturday Nation


16. 02. 2008

President Kibaki’s former key allies in Ukambani are crying foul over his Party of National Unity (PNU)’s coalition with ODM Kenya of Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.

Having campaigned for the President in the region and beyond in the last elections, they feel betrayed and short-changed by his decision to appoint their political rivals to his government.

In separate interviews with the Saturday Nation, the group which comprises former Cabinet ministers and MPs who lost in the December 27 polls, said their access to State House and the President had been restricted.

Coming hot on the heels of the disputed presidential election, the decision to name the Mwingi North MP, who ran against President Kibaki, as his Vice-President took them by surprise and made them politically irrelevant both at the regional and the national levels, they said.

New-found allies

Former MPs Kalembe Ndile (Kibwezi), Mutua Katuku (Mwala), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Joseph Munyao (Mbooni) and Adelina Mwau (nominated) said they have now been sidelined as the President warms up to his new-found allies.

They blamed their defeat on Mr Musyoka whose ODM-K party is the most popular in Ukambani.

The risky decision to stick with PNU during the campaigns against a strong ODM-K wave in their constituencies, they noted, was based on the belief that they would be rewarded in the event that they lost their seats.

The politicians expressed disappointment at the turn of events, especially the President’s failure to consider their contribution to his re-election campaigns.

They accused both President Kibaki and Mr Musyoka of hypocrisy and lack of strength to stand for what they believe in, arguing that the coalition was driven by political desperation and not any ideals.

Opposition wave

Some of them said the alliance was hurriedly crafted out of fear of the opposition majority in Parliament, selfish interests and political survival on the part of leaders of both parties.

Mr Ndile, the former Kibwezi MP who was defeated by US-based university don Philip Kaloki, accused the head of state of reneging on a personal pledge to him to nominate him in case he lost.

The politician who was the assistant minister for Wildlife, said efforts to see President Kibaki over the matter in the past four weeks had been fruitless.

“I was tasked with the national PNU presidential campaigns and went round the country accompanying him (Kibaki) at the obvious risk of losing my seat, therefore the most decent thing to do is to honour the agreement and reward me,” he told the Saturday Nation.

He recalled his closeness to the president and “unhindered access” to State house during the campaigns, and said that at present he seems to have outlived his political usefulness to him and the party.

“Nowadays, even the Cabinet ministers who could not address campaign meetings in their areas without me, do not answer my phone calls because they are avoiding discussing the nomination issue,” he added.

The Independent Party (TIP) leader complained that when he recently sought to see the president over the matter, he was kept waiting outside the main State House gate for more than two hours, only to be told that he (president) was too busy to see him.

Main assignment

Said Ms Mwau who unsuccessfully sought to unseat Mr Gideon Ndambuki in Kaiti constituency on a PNU ticket: “Our main assignment was to rally support for the President in Ukambani and despite the difficulty, he got at least a chunk of votes.

“All indications were that we would lose all our parliamentary seats to ODM Kenya because voters were accusing us of betraying the cause of the Kamba community by failing to support Mr Musyoka’s presidential bid.”

Ms Mwau who also protested against what she termed limited access to the president and State House and the apparent betrayal by PNU top officials, added that she and the other members of the group were shocked when Mr Musyoka, whom they had gone round discrediting during the campaigns, was hurriedly co-opted into government with his team of new political cronies.

“It is very awkward and embarrassing to us,” she said. “We feel cheated because there was no point of supporting somebody who would very quickly close ranks with the opponents we fought against at the expense of our seats.”

Bone of contention

The bone of contention is not the group’s election loss in particular, but Mr Musyoka’s alliance with PNU, which they say is likely to jeopardise their chances in future elections.

They are yet to come to terms with the fact that the man they tirelessly campaigned for against a strong Kalonzo wave in their home turfs has teamed up with their opponents.

Also worrying the politicians is the fact that any future appointment to senior government positions, including envoys and parastatal heads, will most likely be influenced by the Kalonzo party.

This effectively shuts the door on the group and their supporters.

They claim that they are being ridiculed all over in the region for “blindly supporting PNU” while being fully aware of the political hostility back home.

Although ODM-K won 14 of the 17 parliamentary seats in Ukambani, no PNU candidate was successful.

However, Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo of ODM-K accused the group for failing to read the mood on the ground and the party’s popularity in the area.

“These former MPs have themselves to blame because it was clear that political parties would form coalitions after elections, and PNU had no chance in Ukambani,” he said.

After the elections, the president could only work with elected leaders, he added.

But former Makueni MP Kivutha Kibwana who at one time during President Kibaki’s first term in office ran two ministries, would not be drawn into the matter.

However, his personal assistant, a Mr Kimanga, said the former minister, who was beaten in the election by a former-provincial commissioner, Mr Peter Kiilu, was also disappointment by the turn of events.

“Prof Kibwana is deeply frustrated and has been staying indoors since the December elections to privately monitor the changing scenario privately, and he is not willing to discuss politics at the moment,” Mr Kimanga told the Saturday Nation.

This, he added, had forced his boss to withdraw from public and social life.

Mr Katuku, another significant PNU candidate who lost his Mwala seat to the Rev Daniel Muoki, said he hoped the president would eventually reward the group.

“President Kibaki won re-election, and our party is the main partner in the coalition government and as a senior member of the party, I hope things will work out soon,” said the former Water minister.

He urged his colleagues to be patient and wait until the post-election crisis is resolved.