Did Kalonzo Musyoka outsprint himself when he supported the BBI report at the Bomas of Kenya on the day it was released even going to the extent of suggesting that the report should be ratified immediately because he had read it overnight and seen it was good for Kenya. It was a remark that would have William Ruto joke that he was not a first learner like Kalonzo and so he and others who are slow learners should be given ample time to read the document and understand it before making a decision as to whether it was good or not good for the country.
Those who know Kalonzo say that by expressing his satisfaction with the report, he was addressing an audience of one; Uhuru Kenyatta. Kalonzo, they say, was only pleasing Uhuru whom he has lately come to hold at so high esteem some Kenyans feel that Kalonzo is lowering his stature. This reverence of Uhuru by Kalonzo is now coming to haunt him as it appears that the immediate support for the document has put him in a sticky spot. His Ukambani backyard has flatly rejected the document leaving Kalonzo in the unenviable position of having to vomit his words and follow his community to the No side or having to roll up his sleeves and embark on the impossible job of convincing Kambas to back the report.
What will make Kalonzo’s work that harder being the fact that the churches are now against the BBI as it is and have vowed to mobilize their faithful to vote No should the document be put to a vote. In this, the church has Kalonzo where he does not like. Throughout his political career, Kalonzo has presented himself as the churchman in politics and has for decades now been the man the church has been identifying with in power. As a born-again Christian, Kalonzo has been seen as the person personifying the church in government and indeed in politics. It is for this reason that Kalonzo has always been keen to be on the side of the church this with a view to capitalizing on the church membership when it comes to elections. Kalonzo has not been very successful on that score because the church abandons him at election time preferring his rivals.
It is also a bastion that Kalonzo has lately lost to William Ruto who has all but become the spokesman of churches and mosques even. It is worth noting that in the last two referendums, Kalonzo has been standing by the fence without making a decision until too late in the day. In the last referendum in 2010 for example, Kalonzo who was Mwai Kibaki’s vice president kept on dilly-dallying until he earned the name watermelon to show that he was both red and green at the same time; green having been the colour symbolizing Yes and red symbolizing No. When he finally decided to say Yes of which he did not seem to have any option but given that his boss Kibaki was yes, he did not make any impact in Ukambani because by then the church had moved with the people and the verdict was No in Ukambani.
When it comes to making major decisions for Kambas, the church is always the authority that the people listen to. It is against this background that the position taken by the church on BBI is bound to carry a lot of sway among the voters of Ukambani when it comes to casting that ballot in the booth. To go against the church is to some Kambas to go against God. And whereas in the last two referenda the catholic church did not come out so strongly to oppose and so there was left some room for Catholics to decide on their own, this time, the catholic church has come to the front of the opposing line. The catholic church has more faithfuls in Ukambani as indeed in the whole of Kenya than any other single denominations and the die is already cast in Ukambani as far as BBI is concerned unless the demands by the church are met.
Apart from the church, Kambas have been hit hard by the effects of coronavirus being as it is that because their land is not all arable enough for farming like other parts of Kenya such as Central, Rift Valley and Western, the people there rely on jobs in towns to survive and the jobs have been wiped out by the pandemic rendering many jobless. The priority for Kambas just like everyone else worldwide is how to make ends meet and not how to be governed. With the disease now starting to sweep the countryside in earnest, Kambas in the villages are more concerned with how they are going to get treatment in the unfortunate event that they catch the disease. As if this is not enough trouble for Kalonzo who however has not spoken ever since the church made its decision to go against the BBI, Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana has now become the voice of No in the region.
Given that Kibwana is arguably the top constitutional expert in the country if not the East African region, his word carries tonnes of weight. Apart from Kibwana, another Kamba political heavyweight Johnson Muthama, the former Machakos senator has said that he will say the biggest No in Kenya. Muthama and Kibwana have gravitated towards Ruto’s axis and the combination is without a doubt going to be formidable. Kitui governor Charity Ngilu who had been a chief proponent of BBI has also curiously gone quiet after she, like Kalonzo, discovered that BBI is meeting resistance not only in Ukambani but from women who after reading the report realized it was shortchanging them. None other than the Kitui county women rep Irene Kasalu had declared that the report is a raw deal on women because it removes the position of women rep. As women representatives, Kasalu says, they had played a vital role in providing keep for a category of vulnerable deserving cases that were escaping the eyes of other political leadership positions. Kasalu fears that should the report be implemented as it is, thousands of children from poor families women reps have been educating using NGAAF would stop going to school.