The Kingmakers and Kingslayers of this election
The world of politics is made up of kingmakers and also kingslayers. Other than ‘making’ the king, the kingmaker also has the intractable task of protecting the king him from those intent on making him ‘the king of ashes’.
The name ‘kingslayer’ was made prominent by the character Jaime Lannister in the award-winning fantasy epic ‘Game of Thrones’.
Jaime was tasked to protect King Aerys Targaryen but killed him instead, during the sacking of Kings Landing, earning the title ‘kingslayer’, a derogatory tag that constantly hung over his head.
Being a kingmaker may sometimes force you to the unenviable task of being ‘kingslayer’, which in politics will be the act of working against one king or potential king, to make your own the king.
THE ACTUAL KINGMAKER
There are those who argue that there will be no kingmakers in this election. The actual kingmaker, they say, is the one who turned up to register as a voter and went on to vote in the election.
In short, voter registration and voter turnout will make the kings. Opposition chief Raila Odinga had stated in no uncertain terms that the registration of voters would determine the outcome of the elections. While that indeed is true, the hurdle is not crossed until those who registered actually get out and vote. There are many reasons why people come out cast their ballot.
Indeed, Raila would later admit that low voter turnout in his ‘strongholds’ largely denied him the victory in 2013. While the voter registration numbers coming in from his areas have been lower than expected, the next front for him is to ensure at least those who have registered actually do turn up and vote. Usually, the voter who was ‘encouraged’ to register, has a lower drive to turn up and vote.
There is however, another kingmaker — the one who by sheer force of their influence (and resources), will determine the outcome of the election in favour of their candidate. The proper kingmaker, is one not known to the public but who is close enough to the principals and make the difference in their election.
In the past, there have been a number of kingmakers including Raila himself. His famous phrase ‘Kibaki Tosha’ propelled Mwai Kibaki to the presidency. He is one kingmaker who has unsuccessfully tried to be the king, and is now trying out again. Fortunately for him, there are powerful individuals who want to see him become king. Indeed, every election has had its own kingmakers and so does this one.
The following are some of the individuals who are identified as kingmakers or kingslayers.
Mama Ngina Kenyatta
In the Uhuruto camp, the kingmaker in the last election was undoubtedly Mama Ngina Kenyatta. She quietly pulled the strings, brought Ruto into the box and oiled the election machine.
She then took her pride of place as the wife of a former president and the mother of another. Those who are watching her, are seeing her hand in the impending election. She is again working out deals meant to ensure her son remains in power. When she recently visited President Moi, it was reported that she went to get him to prevail on Gideon Moi to make sure that he does not join the Nasa brigade. Some sections of media have it that she is quietly reaching out to some Nasa principals with the aim of bringing them to quit the Opposition grouping in favour of Jubilee. Mama Ngina has deep pockets and resources being important in our elections, she truly fits the role of kingmaker.
On her quest to make the king, she will be ably supported by a number of individuals who are part of the massive electoral machine Jubilee is putting together. The key players include Nancy Gitau, Uhuru’s former political adviser, who reportedly has a good working chemistry with the president. The campaign team will be jointly run with his Private Secretary and nephew Jomo Gecaga and supervised by brother Muhoho.
Ruto has thrown into the team his own guys, former Energy CS Davis Chirchir and personal assistant Farouk Kibet. The finances will be mobilised and managed by Alfred Getonga, who was Kibaki’s onetime PA and has worked in Uhuru’s campaigns since 2013. Media strategy will be done by PSCU director Munyori Buku.
The Camp Nasa has a number of identifiable kingmakers. One is Johnson Muthama. In the last election, he powerfully supported Kalonzo Musyoka’s presidential bid and used his considerable resources to support the Wiper movement.
Reports have it that he has since fallen out with Kalonzo and are not in talking terms. He has now made it his mission to ensure that Raila is elected President. He said recently that he was bidden to this mission by the late Kwale Senator Boy Juma Boy shortly before he died. This has of course rattled the other NASA principals not to say embarrassing to Kalonzo, who is seeing Muthama as kingslayer.
Muthama should ordinarily be supporting Kalonzo now that he was elected on the Wiper ticket, but as they say, there are no permanent enemies in politics. How well Muthama will execute his new mandate remains to be seen but he will be using his extensive networks in aid of the Nasa likely flagbearer Raila.
NASA has attracted many of those disillusioned by the Uhuruto presidency. One of them is SK Macharia of Royal Media Services. Using his considerable financial muscle and having fallen out with the Kenyattas over property deals that went bad, he is keen to ensure that the duo don’t return to State House.
His sensational reportage that Raila won the election in 2007, has painted him in bad light particularly among the Kikuyu. That notwithstanding, Macharia will be using his extensive media empire to support the Nasa brigade, who will need him to popularise their movement particularly in Central Kenya.
Macharia’s Royal Media Services is currently the largest media house and has a coterie of vernacular stations that could carry the exclusive message of NASA.
Of course as a prudent businessman, he will not want it that known outrightly but there is a sense in which his media empire will come in very handy for the NASA.
For his work, he will sorely miss the powerful voice of late presenter Waweru Mburu who was a ‘kingslayer’ in his own right.
Macharia is also a big investor in the transport business owning a fleet of helicopters for hire. These will be available during the Nasa campaigns but you can be certain that the Jubilee side won’t need him for that. The combined total number of helicopters at the disposal of Jubilee is much higher.
Governor Hassan Joho
Another viable Kingmaker in Nasa would have to be Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, who has come out guns blazing against Jubilee, and stamping his presence in NASA. As Deputy ODM party leader, Joho himself has presidential ambitions and has firmly put his considerable finances behind Raila’s presidential bid.
He has stated that he would like to see Raila president, and then he will back him in 2022. Joho has therefore put his energy behind Raila.
However, Joho has been somewhat quiet lately, especially after the arrest and deportation of the Akasha brothers. There have been allegations that the controversial Mombasa governor has been involved in the drug trade and the arrest of the Akashas has been used to send him a warning message, effectively gagging him.
To protect their shadowy businesses, Narco kings are known to finance whichever side they would like to see win. President Uhuru has been on the warpath against illegal drugs orchestrating major crackdowns against the business. It is, therefore, certain he is not the darling of the Narcos kings, who have significant international networks and powerful local dealings.
While it is not clear if they will back a specific politician, Narcos money is often used to tip the scales in many electoral contests world over in order to create an environment that is safe for their business. If Narco kings are not kingmakers, then they are also kingslayers: Nasty ones at that. The famous phrase ‘plata o plomo’ (money or the bullet) attributed to Narcos king Pablo Escobar, is the stuff of legend.
Special interest groups, NGOs, foreign governments, international or local financial institutions and even businesses have sometimes played or tried to play the role of kingmaker. America for instance has been accused of funding NGOs that are hostile to the Jubilee administration and at the same time, there are regional presidents said to have preferred candidates in the upcoming elections.
Uhuru has moved to stall some of the NGOs he has accused of undermining his administration. The banking sector for instance, is said to be furious at the Uhuru administration for cutting down their cake. Already, the Americans stood accused when they seemed to favour Raila’s candidacy in the last election. When US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson warned Kenyans that ‘choices have consequences’, it seemed that he was keen to see the then Prime Minister as president.
Kenyans, however, stated that ‘consequences also have choices’, meaning that they were willing to live with whatever the consequences of their choices would be. That should be the attitude.