By Stephen Makabila
Post-referendum re-alignment and fallouts are already taking shape as key political players cast their eyes beyond the plebiscite.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta is politically drifting away from the ‘KKK’ alliance, thanks to intense pressure from Central Province elite who want Uhuru to change tact as he positions himself for the 2012 General Election.
Reports indicate Uhuru initially wanted a political partnership with Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka sustained, but has seemingly been convinced otherwise by his key advisers, who feel such an alliance would not take him far.
And if things go the way they are, observers believe the much hyped ‘Kamba-Kikuyu-Kalenjin alliance is likely to be relegated to the back burner.
Before referendum politics gained momentum, the ‘KKK’ alliance was believed to be led by Uhuru, Kalonzo and Higher Education minister William Ruto as key point men.
Observers argue the ‘KKK’ alliance was stillborn due to complications brought about by the referendum politics.
It is partly out of this reasoning that Uhuru is being pushed into embracing the ‘Green Alliance’, which he reportedly intends to transform into a political movement.
The new alliance is coalescing around Uhuru, Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa, and Tourism minister Najib Balala as key players.
Reminiscent of the 2005 referendum scenario when the Orange team transformed into the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Uhuru, Wamalwa and Balala are weaving a political alliance of youthful MPs to transform their group into a political machine.
Wamalwa, who enjoys support among the youth in Western Province, is reported to have the backing of four former ministers — Mukhisa Kituyi, Musikari Kombo, Moses Akaranga, and Kipruto arap Kirwa.
The previous weekend, Wamalwa, Kituyi, and Forestry minister Noah Wekesa hosted Uhuru in Chwele, Sirisia constituency. However, Uhuru did not attend due to chaos that preceded the ‘Yes’ rally.
But Wamalwa hosted him in ‘Yes’ rallies in Tongaren and Kitale over the same weekend, and later hosted him last weekend alongside Balala.
On Sunday, Uhuru in turn hosted Wamalwa and Balala at a ‘Yes’ rally in Thika even as President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga led more than 20 ministers in the final ‘Yes’ rally at Uhuru Park.
University of Nairobi political scientist Adams Oloo warns generational change in politics may not prevail over ethnicity and regional interests.
"A crowded KKK alliance could not have survived post-referendum realignments, if the country has to have a new constitution that limits top positions to a President and his running mate. That is why Uhuru is looking for a new alliance," adds Dr Oloo.
Former head of protocol in the Prime Minister’s office, Tony Gachoka, says Central Province leaders were not comfortable with ‘KKK’, which had Uhuru, Kalonzo, and Ruto as key leaders.
"The region feels Uhuru should be in an alliance where key players are equals politically, and that was not the case in the ‘KKK’ alliance," says Gachoka.
A close Uhuru ally and former MP from Central Province confirms alliances have shifted, but adds they want to play their cards close to their chest for now.
"It is true there is an alliance taking shape but we have been careful not to upset the ‘Yes’ campaigns. After the referendum, things will change gradually. We do not want to let the cat out of the bag this early," says the former MP.
Gachoka, who is one of the architects of the new ‘Green Alliance’, says the KKK alliance was not going to succeed.
"The case of Uhuru being a running mate of Kalonzo, for example, would polarise the country, with two candidates from the East of Nairobi against a likely Raila-Musalia Mudavadi pair from the West," he says.
Gachoka says the referendum campaigns between the ‘Greens’ and ‘Reds’ have equally poured cold water on any alliance between Ruto and Central Kenya for now, but chances of the two mending relations cannot be ruled out, depending on how politics will shape up ahead of 2012.
"Seeing that Raila has lost Rift Valley, Western Kenya will be a major battlefield, and Wamalwa is emerging as a potential player. The next election, given the 50+1 rule, will also require more than regional alliances, hence the generational change alliance we are pursuing," adds Gachoka.
He says the ‘Green Alliance’ will target the 70 per cent plus youth vote, and that Uhuru was not only making a shrewd and strategic alliance with Wamalwa and Balala, but with other youthful MPs across the country.
In Central Province, the ‘Green Alliance’ has Assistant Ministers Mwangi Kiunjuri, Kabando wa Kabando, MPs David Ngugi (Kinangop) and Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa).
Outside Central, the alliance has the chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) Mohamed Abdikadir, Assistant Minister Cecily Mbarire, and Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro.
Abdikadir and Ngugi were the co-ordinator and deputy co-ordinator of the ‘Green Alliance’ when it was launched in Nyahururu in mid-June. Its aim then was to lead separate campaigns for ‘Yes’ alongside those co-ordinated by the ‘Yes’ secretariat under Janet Ong’era (ODM) and Peter Kagwanja (PNU).
But even as Uhuru ropes Wamalwa in the new political alliance, observers in Western Province are cautioning the Saboti MP to tread carefully.
"I do not think central Kenya can assist Wamalwa politically, and on this one, he should move with caution," says Masibo Lumala of Moi University. He cites instances, saying Central Province always supports its own against ‘outsiders’.
There are those who feel the chaos experienced during a ‘Yes’ campaign rally at Chwele market, in Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula’s Sirisia constituency, shows politicians in Western have set their eyes beyond the August 4 referendum.
Observers see the fracas not just as having been part of Ford-Kenya supremacy wars pitting Wetang’ula against Wamalwa, but the silent wars going on in a region that has largely united to vote ‘Yes’.
"The political calm in Western Province is going to be short-lived. After the referendum, the original political divide will re-emerge, unless a strong force emerges to sustain the prevailing unity," says Lumala.
Former Assistant Minister Enock Kibunguchy says unity can be sustained if a leader can spring up after the referendum and hold the region together.
Kibunguchy, who is a former Lugari MP, notes the region has been warming towards Wamalwa, and he stands a chance of emerging as the unity pillar if Mudavadi fails.
Prof Sammy Kubasu of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology argues as things stand, it is only Wamalwa who can unite the region.
"The referendum campaign simply brought unity of convenience, but we are yet to see any unity of purpose. Wamalwa can spearhead unity because he is untainted and likeable," says Kubasu.