Who is Kalonzo Musyoka?
Excerpt from: “Raila Odinga Stolen Presidency”
Among politicians who aligned themselves with Raila Odinga in ODM to begin a war against Kibaki after the MoU fiasco, Kalonzo Musyoka had the longest political history. After graduating with a Bachelor of Law degree at Nairobi University in 1977, it took Kalonzo Musyoka at least six years to venture into politics. That was in 1983 when he took advantage of the snap general elections that was called by Moi after the “Njonjo Affair” to unsuccessfully contest the Kitui North Parliamentary seat on a KANU ticket. Kalonzo did not wait long because in 1985, the Kitui seat fell vacant following the shooting of the area’s MP, Mr. Philip Manandu, who won the seat in 1983.
Consequently, a by-election was called and Kalonzo scooped the seat. At thirty-two, Kalonzo became one of the youngest MPs in Kenyan Parliament. After studying the political landscape in Kamba land, Kalonzo decided to align himself with the powerful Kitili Mwendwa who was the MP of Kitui West and Kenya’s first African Chief Justice. Kitili was basically the “power broker” in Ukambani besides being very close to Moi and Kalonzo’s alignment with him was not accidental. After this new connection, Kalonzo was appointed an Assistant Minister for Works, Housing and Physical Planning, a post he held up to the 1988 elections. The 1988 elections was held through the infamous queue-voting system and Kalonzo is believed to have been responsible for blocking his opponent, Mr. Joseph Mulingui, the Development Coordinator of the local Catholic Diocese. Mulingui posed a serious threat to Kalonzo but on the eve of nominations, Mulingui’s nomination papers disappeared mysteriously, causing him to be disqualified. This opened the way for Kalonzo to be re-elected unopposed at the 1988 elections.
Once in Parliament after voters were denied their right to cast their votes to candidates of their choice, Kalonzo’s star continued to rise. He was soon elected Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and as he worked his way up the ladder, he was crowned KANU’s National Organizing Secretary. This promotion helped expose Kalonzo’s brand of real politik. In 1989, Kalonzo moved an unprecedented motion seeking to bar The Daily Nation from covering House business, arguing that the newspaper was anti-government. This motion came at a time when Kalonzo was steadily transforming himself into a leading pro-establishment politician and engaging in public outbursts that were consistently taking a sycophantic slant.
At this time, Kalonzo was also a senior partner in Musyoka and Wambua Advocates, a firm that was later implicated in a scandalous land deal that prompted a High Court judge to commit Kalonzo to jail in May 1991 and calling the crime “a serious and appalling fraud.”299 In a lengthy expose in The Standard Newspaper, Journalist Sarah Elderkin, formerly of Weekly Review Newspaper, narrated how Justice Frankshield “castigated Kalonzo and his legal partner, Paul Musili Wambua, for transferring and registering a piece of land that had been the subject of a longstanding dispute – despite having received a court order to surrender the title deeds of the land in question.”300 At the height of the struggle for political pluralism that was being headed by the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kalonzo was the sycophant who was honoured with the task of moving a motion in Parliament after the July 7, 1990, “Saba Saba uprising” that forced the Moi dictatorship to repeal section 2A of the Constitution and open the way for multipartism in Kenya.
In his presentation in Parliament, Kalonzo delivered a serious attack on multiparty advocates and the then US Ambassador, Smith Hempstone, who was supporting demands for reforms to allow for more political Parties to compete in the marketplace. US Imperialism was growing uneasy with the Moi dictatorship because of corruption and Moi’s authoritarianism, vices that were undermining US support for Kenya because the undemocratic direction of leadership under Moi was putting the US government in an awkward situation. When Oginga Odinga tried to register the National Democratic Party just before the repeal of section 2A of the Constitution in 1990 that opened the way for political pluralism, it was Kalonzo who was sent by KANU hawks to attack the senior Odinga and he did it in typical KANU style.
Kalonzo warned Odinga against engaging in a “Treasonable act,” the kind of talk that KANU used repeatedly to scare its critics and to send a message that people engaging in these kinds of acts could be sent to jail. Then came the incident where Vice President George Saitoti went out of his way while addressing UK Parliamentarians in London to accuse Odinga of being a Communist. Odinga threatened to sue Saitoti for libel and when the news reached Kalonzo, he “…jumped in to call a press conference at Kanu headquarters, where he described Odinga’s actions as ‘the height of bad manners aimed at bringing the office of the Vice President into disrepute.”301 Raila could still work with Kalonzo after these cheap attacks on his father, Oginga Odinga, all in the name of gaining the Presidency.
In July 1990, the country eventually reverted to political pluralism and although numerous political parties sprouted with a realignment of forces, Kalonzo chose to remain in KANU because that is where his fortunes rested. His calculation paid enormously because after the 1992 elections, Kalonzo was appointed by Moi as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. It was after the entry of Raila Odinga in KANU under the New KANU that Kalonzo developed the guts to ditch KANU. When the crisis in KANU erupted before the 2002 General Elections as a result of the “Uhuru Project,” Kalonzo decamped from KANU together with Raila’s supporters and joined the Liberal Democratic Party where Kalonzo linked with forces that began to fight Moi. This change of political parties because of favourable circumstances and advantages as opposed to ideological differences gives Kalonzo away as one of the leading opportunists in Kenyan politics.
Although Kalonzo tried to publicly cultivate a pious image as he prepared to make a shot at the Presidency, he was simply aping Moi who went to church persistently to try to reconstruct the image of a God-loving leader even though he managed a corrupt government that was violating the human rights of Kenyans, sometimes ordering his trigger-happy policemen to shoot suspected criminals on sight. When it comes to work with Raila Odinga, Kalonzo’s case is special because he is one opportunist who managed to openly expose his opportunism thereby splitting ODMKenya, a reckless move that temporarily destabilized the Party and sent shockwaves across ODM-Kenya supporters who began to ask questions as to whether the Party was capable of winning the December 2007 elections. After Raila’s Presidency was stolen, Kalonzo’s opportunism was confirmed when he accepted to work with Kibaki who appointed him Vice President as Kenyans died in the streets. After the December 2007 election rigging, the tag of a “traitor” was added to Kalonzo’s political profile, making him both an opportunist and traitor.
Raila Odinga’s Stolen Presidency: Consequences and the Future of Kenya (pgs 168-171)