Kalonzo’s empty power in Ukambani

Kalonzo’s empty power in Ukambani


It speaks volumes about Kalonzo Musyoka’s hold on the Kamba people that three governors from the region each controlling Sh10 billion a year are still gasping for political air. It also speaks about Kalonzo’s political tactics that he is the only tribal kingpin in Kenya who is openly not in good terms with the governors of his area. Incidentally, this latter fact is now used by Kalonzo’s critics to buttress a view that it is Kalonzo who is the problem and not the governor.

It can not be that it is the three governors who are the problem because out of the three, at least one would be having a different opinion on Kalonzo from the other two, they go on. Yet to say that the governors disagree with Kalonzo is to understate the matter. Listening to a leaked taped phone conversation between Kitui governor Charity Ngilu and former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile, one gets the impression that the governors hate Kalonzo with a passion. On more than two occasions, Ngilu firmly warns Kalembe on ever supporting Kalonzo to do a deal with the Jubilee government repeating “never” six times on each occasion. Kalonzo, Ngilu tells Kalembe, is a “me, mine, I” person and as such he will only negotiate for himself. Listening to the conversation, one who does not know the political situation in Ukambani would assume that Kalonzo has not a single follower in the region. For who would support such an evil man as Ngilu painted?

Mutula Kilonzo Jr

Which then raises the questions, is Kalonzo that bad, is it that the people do not know the Kalonzo truly, or is it Ngilu who was telling a lie? The answers to these questions are yes and no depending on who you put the query to. To Kalonzo’s critics, what Ngilu said is the truth and nothing but the truth. They will challenge those opposed to their view to point one development project that Kalonzo has initiated in Ukambani or one Kamba he had employed for over 30 years he was at the centre of power in the Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki governments where he was an influential minister and vice president to Kibaki governments where he was an influential minister and vice president to Kibaki for a good five years. And indeed, there is not a project in the name of Kalonzo except a prison in Mwingi that he constructed when he was up and minister of Home Affairs under which prisons fall a project locals say confirms that Kalonzo wishes Kambas ill because firstly it shows that he believes crime is the only industry in Ukambani and secondly that he wishes sons and daughters of Ukambani put behind bars.

And indeed, search as you might, you will not come across a single mkamba in government that Kalonzo had hired. On the contrary, you will come across a Kamba who attributes his sacking from the government or his lack of promotion to Kalonzo. At one time when Kalonzo was VP, he called for a meeting of Kambas in senior government positions and what emerged was that none of them was in their positions courtesy of Kalonzo. In fact, many refused to show up in fear that if Kalonzo got to know there were such people in government, he might have them sacked. It is not without reason therefore that Kalonzo lacks support from a certain cadre of Kambas more so those who have struggled to get an education and consequently a relatively good life in comparison to the holloi polloi in the dustbowl that is Ukambani. The holloi polloi on their part, never having ever known what power ought to place on their feet again because Kalonzo whom they have placed in government all these decades never made them taste power, have no complaints against Kalonzo because as such, they do not see anything that he should have done.

Kivutha Kibwana

And because they do not expect anything from Kalonzo these poor Kambas, so the cycle of poverty and underdevelopment in Ukambani ever revolves. This lack of any demands on Kalonzo from his supporters be it of development, jobs or cash is what has made Kalonzo have the luck of leading a community all these decades much to the envy of many tribal kings in other areas whose stay at the helm is bought with development, jobs and monetary rewards. As much as this has been an advantage to Kalonzo, it is also a disadvantage and the main cause of his never-ending political woes at home. Aware that Kalonzo’s supporters make noise on empty stomachs, Ukambani governors Ngilu, Kivutha Kibwana of Makueni and Alfred Mutua of Machakos the threesome that controls over Sh30 billion in a single year ensure that their few supporters have full stomachs and overloaded pockets to outbalance Kalonzo when it comes to who between Kalonzo and the governors is of more benefit to Kambas. But as they say, however, overconfidence is not always good.

Two of the governors have now, after deluding themselves that they have the clout, decided to go for the presidency of Kenya and are actually now privately dismissing Kalonzo as financially unable to mount a presidential campaign. The good thing with this as far as Kalonzo’s supporters are concerned being that the two will become history once 2022 is gone as they stand no chance of winning the presidency anyway even if one backed the other. It is against this background that long-suffering Kalonzo supporters are now counting only two years of more humiliation from Mutua and Kibwana and their people. Still, there are those who fear that even after Mutua and Kibwana are gone, they might end with yet another regime not dissimilar to the outgoing duo should Kalonzo not listen to the advice of his empty-pocketed and empty-bellied followers. According to a longtime Kalonzo man Ndii Kivuva, there is the danger of Kalonzo backing people for governor seats who will, once they win the seat, turn against Kalonzo like Mutua, Kibwana and Ngilu have done.

The reason Kalonzo falls into this trap, the supporters say is because people whom Kalonzo does not know well politically come in the last minute and buy Wiper party nomination ticket. There is, they say, a need for Kalonzo to keenly vet those he backs for seats not only for governor but also for senator, MP, women rep and MCAs. On the part of the MPs, once they win the seats, that becomes the end of their defence of Kalonzo something that ires his followers many who ask why Kalonzo allows people to continue earning salaries in his name yet they leave Mutua, Ngilu and Kibwana and their people to tear Kalonzo to pieces. And as if not defending Kalonzo is not enough, there are even Wiper leaders who go ahead to side with the anti-Kalonzo governors a case in point being that Makueni senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior who is in agreement with Kibwana not to question Kibwana with a deal that Kibwana will back him to become governor. And even though all this is in the public domain and everyone including Kalonzo knows it, what is shocking is that Kalonzo continues to entertain Mutula even as Mutula conceals the sword he has sharpened to slay Kalonzo in plain view.

Kalonzo’s followers in Makueni which is Kalonzo’s stronghold even more than his Kitui home turf are however not worried by Mutula’s games as they say that they have a loyal man they will vote for in the name of Philip Kaloki whom they say will sing Kalonzo’s tune day and night even when he becomes governor. It is in Kitui where they say Kalonzo might find himself torn between two allies as it happened in the last elections when Kalonzo’s confidants Julius Malombe and David Musila found themselves pitted against the other which gave Ngilu a through pass. This time around, Kalonzo will have to make a choice between Malombe and Kitui senator Enock Wambua but it is expected that just like Kalonzo sided with Malombe in 2017, he will repeat it and probably prevail upon Wambua to defend his Senate seat. In 2017, Kalonzo failed to convince Musila to defend his Senate seat. In Machakos, Kalonzo is said to have Waita Nzioka as his choice for governor. Those who know Waita say he is a man of his word and would not bite the hand that fed him like Mutua and Mutula. Meanwhile, in Machakos Town constituency, area MP Victor Munyaka is being accused of employing his brothers as ghost workers at CDF office. Mwanzia Munyaka, Wambua Munyaka, Makau Munyaka and Kinyata Munyaka’s names are now at EACC in a letter sent to the agency