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Inside Politics

Wekesa keeps Kenyans waiting on Raila’s deputy

Thursday, May 12th, 2022 12:03 | By
Chairman of the panel of eminent persons Noah Wekesa addresses the press in Nairobi on Tuesday. PHOTO/William Oeri

The panel of eminent persons charged with picking the best three candidates to deputise Azimio-One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga in the August election put on ice the big announcement, citing the absence of the ODM boss.

Although the Noah Wekesa-led seven-member team failed to disclose the contents of the report until it is officially handed to Raila, sources have told People Daily the team picked three candidates based on integrity, ability to mobilise votes and character of the person to gel with the presidential candidate.

“We were to present our report today, but little did we know that the party leader would be out of town. Our statement was prepared in view of the fact that we were at the same time going to present the report to the party leader. He has assured us that he will be here tomorrow,” Wekesa said.

Raila was yesterday campaigning in Tana River county and is scheduled to address more meetings in Kilifi today.

At the time of going to press, sources confided to People Daily that Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua, former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth and Wiper boss Kalonzo Musyoka emerged the top three for Raila to pick from.

However, the senior Azimio member was quick to add that the list could change given the high stakes and considering Azimio is a coalition of many political parties.

A high-profile source privy to the selection process revealed that Kenneth is trailing in the top three selection and that the race had narrowed down to Kalonzo and Karua with strong indications that President Uhuru Kenyatta could be involved in the final decision making.“The contest is between Kalonzo and Karua. It will boil down to numbers and the candidate who will help the presidential flag bearer to win. It will be the decision of the candidate on who will be his running mate but one should remember that Uhuru has staked out his neck for Raila,” the source said.

Contacted, Raila presidential campaign spokesman Makau Mutua was sketchy on the running mate pick.

“We are spoilt for choice. All the candidates who offered themselves are very serious people. Ultimately, it will be the candidate’s role to pick his running mate. We will be happy with whoever will be nominated,” Prof Makau told People Daily.

Those who appeared before the Wekesa panel include Governors Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) Hassan Joho (Mombasa) and Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru).

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, Muranga Woman Rep Sabina Chege and former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth were also interviewed for the post.

Kanu chairman Gideon Moi backed out and threw his weight behind Kalonzo. 

Political analysts have argued that Karua, Kalonzo and Kenneth could fit the bill as Raila’s running mate and possibly the deputy president should Azimio form the next government.

Top three

Moi University lecturer Masibo Lumala opined that Karua would be among the top three because she has worked with Raila in the Cabinet, has integrity, is firm and does not waver easily.

“In my view, Karua does not change her stand easily. She also brings in the gender card and appeals to a large constituency of women. She could be the first female deputy president in Kenya,” said Lumala.

On Kalonzo’s nomination, Lumala said that although he has been a Vice-President and has experience in government, he comes with a baggage of giving out ultimatums and threats. “When you make statements like ‘if you do not pick me, then the opponent will win’ means that you don’t have the interests of the coalition at heart. That baggage will be his undoing. He, however, has a voting block of Ukambani,” he said. Dr Lumala further argued that should United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential candidate Dr William Ruto pick Tharaka Nithi Senator Prof Kithure Kindiki as his running mate, then Raila might pick Agriculture CS Peter Munya to appease Mount Kenya East.

Political analyst Martin Andati on his part charged that of the 10 candidates interviewed, Kalonzo will emerge top, arguing that apart from being a former VP,  he has also received the backing of Kanu supremo Gideon Moi.

Andati said that although Kalonzo fits the bill, he has already made a blunder by issuing threats and speaking from both sides. “Kalonzo has experience; he can deliver and has received the backing of Gideon. He also has the chemistry to gel with the presidential candidate. However, he has already made a blunder. You cannot issue threats and speak from both sides before getting the job,” said Andati.

Andati argued that apart from Kalonzo, Karua is a formidable candidate who will bring the gender equation, solid experience and is seen as tough in enforcing negotiated deals.

But Andati claimed that a ‘cabal’ within Raila’s circles is pushing for the nomination of  Chege, saying she will not interfere with Raila’s peace of mind while running a government should he be elected on August 9.

“Sabina is being fronted by people around Raila who feel that she will not be a nuisance to  Raila. She will appeal to both women and the youth who also form a large constituency of voters,” said Andati.

Current scenario

According to University of Nairobi lecturer Richard Bosire, the panel will have no option but to pick the top three bearing in mind, gender, experience and ability to work together with the presidential candidate.

This, he argued, will help in the running of the government and has borrowed a leaf from the current scenario where President Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto have become political nemesis.

Bosire says having Karua as a running mate will appeal to the women’s constituency and the compatibility with the presidential candidate.

“In my view, Karua will be shortlisted because she brings in the gender constituency that to a large extent has not been captured. She will appeal to the women folk which may bring in more votes to the side,” said Dr Bosire.

He further argued that Kalonzo has the qualities and experiences to deputise Raila but of late has been speaking too much.

“Kalonzo fits well but of late, has not been focused. This is his greatest undoing,” he said.

Bosire noted that the person to be picked will not necessarily be on merit but factors such as gender, regional balance and ability to marshal votes will be highly considered.

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