Former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has opened up for the first time on how powerful forces in State House bullied and elbowed him out of the Mwai Kibaki succession.
In an exclusive and candid interview with The Standard On Sunday, the co-principal of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) lifted the lid on maneuvers by the retired President’s top handlers, including then influential Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia and the President’s privatesecretary and adviser, Prof Nick Wanjohi to allegedly fix him.
“I worked very well with the President, whom I must hasten to add was a very good boss. But unknown to many Kenyans, there were many underhand dealings – some contrary to Kibaki’s wishes – initiated by a powerful ring around him,” discloses Kalonzo. The former principal assistant to Kibaki in the grand coalition government singles out an incident in Machakos Town in 2012, when the retired President publicly endorsed him as a preferred successor. Following the development, former Government spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua even dispatched alerts to newsrooms to that effect.
However, by the time the President’s convoy arrived in Kitui, Kalonzo’s home county, where Kibaki was chief guest at the national tree plantingday, another alert reversing that of Mutua, now the Machakos Governor, had been sent to newsrooms. Kalonzo attributes the move to behind-the-scenes machinations of some Central Kenya political operatives, who prevailed upon then Head of Presidential Press Service Isaiya Kabira, to renounce Mutua’s statement.
The former VP says it even became clearer to him that he was an unwanted man when former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi was roped in the succession game plan.
Wanjohi, he says, sprung up with the UDF outfit, which he quickly handed to the unsuspecting Mudavadi.
According to Kalonzo, the inclusion of Mudavadi in the State House power games signaled the beginning of schemes to undermine him. State House operatives quickly started assigning the formerVP’s duties to Mudavadi including “giving him international assignments to represent the President and misusing him to readspeeches at funerals”.
“But I do not blame Kibaki, or anybody for that matter, over the turn of events. I have learnt that in this business (politics), you cannot expect anything on a silver platter.
You have to work hard for your gain and that is precisely what the (former) PM (Raila Odinga) and I did in March,” Kalonzo told The Standard On Sunday. Below are excerpts of the interview:
After going separate ways with Kibaki, you teamed up with Raila…
And agreeably we faced a monumental challenge at the presidential poll. But as judges of the Supreme Court have confessed, we were subjected to injustice owing to limitation of time allocated for the hearing and determination of the presidentialpetition. This meant that our 800-plus page crucial evidence had to be expunged.
The truth is that no presidential candidate surpassed the fifty per cent mark of the votes cast.
Either way, both of you, alongside Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetangula are in official Opposition.Will you be facing the next presidential election as a team?
Let us not get there just yet. Whether I will be running for presidency or will support my brother Raila or even Wetangula, is a matter we shall have to first sit down and consult widely. And this will involve members of our separate parties and officials right from the grassroots level. All in all, we remain a great and a winning team.
Focusing on your yet to be released retirement package, what are your thoughts?
It’s another classic instance of injustice. If Kibaki got his due share of package, then it is only fair that the PM, who was a co-principal, gets his rightful share of his retirement benefits. It is public knowledge that we all served this country diligently at very senior levels and it is embarrassing that Raila and I should be fuelling the one government car, which has been seconded to each one of us. The conditions being pegged on the package are even laughable because I do not see myself retiring from politics anytime soon.
Besides the handling of the retirement issue, how has Uhuru and Ruto faired so far?
Dismally. From the skyrocketing prices of food and other basic needs, it is obvious that the pair’s primary interest was to acquire votes to get to power and not to fix Kenyans’ problems. But there are surely some tangible developments, including the recent launch of the standard gauge railway line in Mombasa.
The notion of the speed train was mooted way back in the Ninth Parliament and Raila as Roads and Public Works minister mapped out the project, with Kibaki, Raila and myself as leaders of the Grand Coalition concretising and finalising the deal during the Tenth Parliament.
Uhuru has only laid the foundation stone. Do you also feel the International Criminal Court (ICC) subject has overshadowed the President’s performance?
Life for Kenyans should not come to a standstill because of ICC. Nonetheless, this is a matter I do not wish to comment on.
What about the government’s handling of foreign-related challenges?
There have obviously been lapses in this area. However, I have a lot of respect for Amina (Mohammed, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary), who for a long period worked under me in the same ministry. She is good and very charming, but I think few in government perceive situations the way she does. And this is why we have friction in the East African Community. That is why the Cord leadership is volunteering to help the Kenyatta government – to cover its nakedness with a measure of diplomatic finesse.
Finally, do you have any regrets over your recent past political experiences?
Absolutely none. I am only ashamed at the realisation that I am a citizen and a political player in a country where government has made it its business to steal presidential elections every election year.
– The Standard