Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Is Kalonzo planning to return to Parliament?

NASA deputy leader Kalonzo Musyoka, its eclipsed deputy presidential candidate, could be considering a comeback to Parliament, making as well a political comeback.

The Wiper leader and former Vice President (2008-2013) has been out in the cold for four years and Jubilee reportedly has reached out to him several times to join the ‘winning team’.

Speculation was triggered after Mwingi North MP Paul Musyimi Nzengu, who is serving his first term, on Monday picked application forms for the Arusha-based East Africa Legislative Assembly.

If selected to EALA, this would create a vacancy in the constituency Kalonzo represented for 28 years. Then the 2010 Constitution barred presidential candidates and running mates from contesting any other seat.

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Vacancy means by-election, which Kalonzo presumably would win.

If Nzengu is to be considered for EALA, he must return them by close of business today.

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Kalonzo, who is with his ailing wife in Germany, was not available for comment and his phone went unanswered.

Nzengu yesterday said he hadn’t been asked to run for EALA and knew nothing about any plan for Kalonzo to enter Parliament.

Kalonzo, 63, a son of Ukambani, has been losing support in that region where he was once the undisputed kingpin.

The EALA application was also picked by Elsie Muhanda, Kakamega woman representative.

Other applicants include former MPs Raila Odinga’s elder brother Oburu Odinga (nominated), Mpuri Aburi (Tigania East), Mose ole Sakuda (Kajiado West), Ibrahim Saney (Wajir North), Simon Mbugua (Kamukunji), Danson Mungatana (Garsen) and Dorcas Kedogo (Kakamega Woman Representative).

MPs are to start vetting applicants for the nine slots allotted to Kenya after political parties conclude nominations on Friday. The House resumes on Tuesday after a short recess.

Wiper leaders tell the Star a small group has been discussing the possibility of having Nzengu resign and proceed to EALA, thus triggering a by-election that Kalonzo presumably would win handily.

Yesterday, Nzengu neither confirmed nor denied the talk, telling the Star, “We will cross that bridge when we get there.” He said no one had discussed the issue with him.

“That debate is not relevant for now,” he said.

When pressed to state categorically whether there was any plan, the MP said, “I do not think His Excellency Hon Kalonzo would ask me to do such a thing and if and when he does, I will make the decision at the appropriate time. For now this question is totally irrelevant.”

Compared with Parliament, the EALA post is less prestigious and has fewer benefits.

Currently MPs earn a gross salary of Sh621,000 a month. They are entitled to mileage reimbursement and they manage the lucrative CDF kitty.

Their EALA counterparts earn Sh1.4 million monthly,inclusive of allowances.

If NASA’s plan to get Kalonzo into Parliament is executed, the Wiper leader take a bigger role leading NASA troops in the National Assembly.

Apart from naming John Mbadi as the Leader of Minority in the House, NASA is yet to fill other key positions — the Amani National Congress, Ford Kenya and Wiper are jostling for them.

EALA is the legislature of the East Africa Community comprising seven member countries.

In the last Parliament, Wiper had nominated Kalonzo’s son Kennedy Musyoka, creating controversy over nepotism. The young Musyoka is in Germany with his parents.

Nzengu had earlier explained that he picked the forms on behalf of Kalonzo’s PA whom he did not name.

“The PA asked me to pick the forms on behalf of Kalonzo and I sent my secretary to collect them. I do not know why the speaker decided it was me who is applying for the position,” Nzengu told the Star.

Kalonzo unsuccessfully ran for President in 2007 but was named Vice President in President Mwai Kibaki’s administration.

An accord signed by NASA principals, including Raila, Kalonzo, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula, gives the Wiper leader automatically the presidential ticket in 2022.

It is not clear if the agreement will stand, as Raila and Kalonzo lost in the August 8 General Election and the October 26 presidential rerun.

Kalonzo, the one-time boss of Ukambani politics still has some solid support in his backyard. Running for MP in his old constituency is considered to be a walk in the park.

This is not the first attempt to have the former Vice President return to Parliament.

After the 2013 General Election, there was pressure on Wiper lawmakers to step down for his comeback as Leader of the Minority.

At that time, the opposition Cord even constituted a six-member committee to work out a formula that would secure Kalonzo a seat in Parliament to lead the opposition.

During a retreat of opposition MPs at the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha, Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu was identified as the one who would step down for Kalonzo.

But Mutambu, then a staunch Kalonzo, bitterly opposed the proposal, saying it would amount to betrayal on his constituents.

“I have not been approached nor have I been asked to step down. I was voted in by the people of Mwingi Central and I have to consult them before making anymove,” he said.

Another attempt to have Kalonzo force his way to the legislature was made after the death of former Wiper chairman and then Makueni senator Mutula Kilonzo.

Despite pressure, the former Vice President refused to run for the seat, despite resistance from some Makueni leaders and Kilonzo’s family.

Yesterday, acting Wiper secretary general Robert Mbui said Kalonzo is not power-hungry and not interested in returning to Parliament.

“That is propaganda, Kalonzo is not interested in coming to Parliament, he has set his eye on preparing to run for President in the 2022 general election,” the Kathiani MP told the Star.

“The Wiper Party presented only one name, Kennedy Musyoka,” he said.

Jubilee, which controls the numbers in Parliament has insisted it will flex its strength to allocate themselves six slots.

National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale wants a new formula reflecting Jubilee’s numbers applied, a ‘plot’ that would leave ODM with two slots and Wiper will have one.

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