Kenya: Oka Allies Fight Over Choice of Flag Bearer

Behind posturing for cameras in a show of unity, a political fight is brewing in the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) over the choice of a presidential flag bearer between ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Wiper Party counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka, the Sunday Nation has learnt.

Sources within the new political outfit indicate that the two leaders are not ready to let go of the ticket with each claiming seniority and acceptability across the country. The alliance is expected to name its presidential candidate in September, if it follows the advice of a technical team.

Mr Musyoka, according to our source, has maintained that he is the most senior leader and also has the majority of elected MPs in the coalition, hence he should be handed the ticket.

Mr Mudavadi, on the other hand, has also insisted that he is accepted across board hence stands a better chance to clinch the presidency with an OKA ticket.

So vicious is the fight that the alliance technical team that was set to retreat to Naivasha this week to work on, among other things, the power sharing matrix, is yet to go.

A report by the technical team presented to the OKA principals a fortnight ago, which outlined the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity and Threats (SWOT) analysis of each candidate, indicates that the race is between Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka.

Play second fiddle

During Wiper's National Executive meeting on Monday, Mr Musyoka reiterated that he is not going to play second fiddle to anybody in 2022.

"This party has decided we are not deputising anybody in the next elections," Mr Musyoka said.

Mr Musyoka said that it is a fact that Wiper is the majority party in OKA and therefore will negotiate for nothing but the Presidency.

Wiper has 27 members in the National Assembly and Senate compared to ANC's 17, Ford Kenya's 14 and KANU's 13. It is based on this numerical strength that Wiper has maintained a hard line stand that it will not play second fiddle to any of its partners.

Mr Musyoka's allies have also dismissed Mr Mudavadi's assertion that he is acceptable across board saying that when he vied for the Presidency in the 2013 general elections, Mr Mudavadi came a distance third after 483,981 votes, while when Musyoka vied for the presidency in 2007,he managed to get 879,903 votes.

On the other hand, those in the Mudavadi camp have argued that the ANC party leader allowed Mr Musyoka to be Odinga's running mate in 2017 with the Nasa ticket hence it is his time to deputise Mudavadi this time.

Kibwezi East MP Jessica Mbalu, who attended the Monday National Executive Committee (NEC), said Wiper is going for nothing but the presidency.

"We can talk but they must be ready to support our party leader," Ms Mbalu said.

"We are not going to negotiate for anything less than the presidency. Even when we were at State House, the President said he (Kalonzo) is fit and we are going to negotiate for that," said another senator who attended Monday's NEC meeting.

The Sunday Nation has reliably learnt that Mr Musyoka's allies have maintained that their leader should be the flag bearer at OKA and that their leader should not accept anything less.

However, ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula has maintained that Mr Mudavadi should be the flag bearer for OKA as he had been endorsed by the party's top decision making organ.

Flag bearer

"On our side, we are demanding that Mudavadi be the flag bearer. The argument that Kalonzo be the flag bearer is not here, that equation is out of this," Mr Savula told the Sunday Nation.

"The Amani council has endorsed Mr Musalia as our presidential candidate. That decision is irreversible but we will continue negotiating with Wiper," Mr Savula added.

Political analyst Javas Bigambo, however, said Mr Mudavadi has an edge over Mr Musyoka as he stands for something while the Wiper leader still has no ideological inclination.

"He (Kalonzo) needs to stand for something. He has not yet indicated why he is running and why his candidature is compelling. Musalia is speaking about economic recovery but Kalonzo is speaking about nothing yet," Mr Bigambo said.

He, however, termed the move by Wiper to exit Nasa as a step of courage on the part of Mr Musyoka but was quick to point out that the move leaves him in limbo unless the party initiates another coalition.

"Kalonzo has to work with others to survive politically," Mr Bigambo said.

The problem in OKA is further compounded by KANU, who have vowed not to leave Jubilee to formally join the new outfit. According to the law, no party can belong to two or more coalitions at the same time.

On Thursday, KANU chairman Gideon Moi stated that his party will not be pushed by anyone to end its coalition deal with the ruling party Jubilee.

With a potential split largely looming in OKA, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) is reported to be waiting to convince Mr Musyoka to work with Mr Odinga one more time.

Already, ODM has indicated that it will not take the leadership positions in the National Assembly held by Wiper MPs even after Wiper NEC meeting endorsed the decision to exit the coalition.

The move, according to some insiders in ODM, is meant to show Wiper that there is still goodwill to work with them ahead of 2022 as political alignments continue to take shape.

The Orange party, which also exited Nasa on Thursday, is keen on negotiating another deal with Kalonzo as an individual, a move insiders say is to isolate Mr Mudavadi in OKA since KANU is not interested in the alliance and is likely to work with ODM ahead of 2022 polls.

At the NEC meeting, Mr Musyoka also seemed to have a soft spot for ODM as he told them not to be quick to kick out his allies from the parliamentary positions for the sake of what he termed as a bigger political future with the orange party.

"Where the law is specific that the seat goes to the minority coalition, then we will consider negotiations with ODM," Mr Musyoka said.

Work with wiper

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed told the Sunday Nation that in as much as ODM will also chart its own political path ahead of 2022, there is hope that it can still work with Wiper.

"Yes there is hope in working with Wiper again and anyone else. They have their own opinion that they cannot play second fiddle but we also have ours," Mr Junet said.

"While we are ready to work with them (Wiper), we will not just fold our arms waiting for them, we will also chart our own political path," Mr Junet said.

However, Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo told the Sunday Nation that Wiper can only work with ODM again if Mr Odinga shelves his presidential ambition and declares 'Kalonzo Tosha'

"Let him (Raila) change his mind and support Mr Musyoka and we will be back. When he supports Kalonzo, we will win the presidency and take care of him. He will actually rule the government from outside just like he is doing now," Mr Maanzo said.

He dismissed a letter by Mr Odinga, where he finally agreed to share the political parties funds with his coalition partners who have now severed links with him as a trick by ODM to woo Wiper back to the fold.

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