Opposition presidential hopeful Kalonzo Musyoka has declared he would not support CORD co-principal Raila Odinga to run for president next year if he sees he is going to lose like in 2013 when he dropped his own bid to back him.
In an hour-long exclusive interview with The Standard over an array of issues touching on CORD and the country at his Nairobi’s Karen home, the former vice president argued the coalition was ready to take power come next year and was pulling all stops to send Jubilee home.
Here is the full interview:
Q: How would you prefer the coalition to? pick its presidential candidate – through a competitive process or consensus?
We do not have time for competitive nomination because that would create animosity and we know ourselves. I think we will have to agree, agree or disagree, that’s a hard fact.
Q: And what considerations should guide the process?
We have not come to that. We will cross the bridge when we get there. But I have said this openly before that whoever is given the ticket must guarantee the coalition that they would not lose to Jubilee; that must be the only consideration.
Q: You supported Raila in 2013 and you lost. Would you support him again?
That is why I am saying I can’t afford that approach. I am not saying that this time he may not win but we must look at it. If we are going to end the same way we did then he cannot be the flag bearer. If I am the flag-bearer and the possibility is that I am going to lose, again I should not be the flag bearer. So we have a lot of introspection to do and being as straight forward as that.
Q: Some people may argue that you need to consider popularity and as it stands now Raila seems to be the most popular among the three of you?
Why, why do you think so?
We have asked our management team to do a very scientific poll of pairing each of us. A repeat of last poll or reverse that and have Kalonzo running and Raila supporting or Wetang’ula running and Kalonzo supporting, that’s is what we want. But this one of saying that one is popular on their own and the moment you get them depending on the choice of running mate you are done or worse still the vote is rigged. But the country would this time round not tolerate rigging.
Q: Would you accept to be a running mate?
I have no problem if it is agreed that I am a running mate. I have said it before that if Raila is the candidate I will support him, if it is Wetang’ula I will support him and if it is me and of course I pray it is me. I hope they can support my candidature this time round. This is the time for this country to try a strong Kalonzo candidature.
Q: There are talks that Musalia Mudavadi could join hands with CORD in forming a super alliance?
I don’t know about the super alliance thing. I have read about it in the papers but we have never sat anywhere to discuss it. I can understand why Kenyans would want to see something like that. But I keep on saying that we must also be strategic. Why are we assuming that Jubilee would just sit there and clap for us when we talk about a super-alliance? The biggest problem with us in the Opposition is ourselves, we don’t keep secrets. Now we are shouting supper alliance, they’ll go and buy out everybody. Peter Kenneth and Martha Karua have decided to go. Already that super-alliance approach is punctured because you don’t show the cow the rope when you want to slaughter it, it will bolt. It is a matter of strategy. But I can tell you one thing that we are set to go for the presidency.
Q: You are on record accusing Senator Johnstone Muthama of frustrating your presidential bid.
No, that was completely your own concoction. I just made it clear to Muthama not to attack Governor Kivutha Kibwana because he said small parties should wind up. The bit that I talked about “kutolewa suruali” (being undressed) was in a very easy way. I said, Muthama you know if you come back to these people without my presidential flag bearership watakutoa suruali (they will undress you) and that’s all. I didn’t mean that he is undermining me or working with Orengo. I have never seen that kind of fabrication. It was alarming and I don’t have a problem with my friend Muthama.
Q: What is your stand on picking candidates for various seats, have you agreed to field candidates jointly as a coalition?
We are yet to discuss and agree but I can tell you that CORD lost a lot of seats particularly in Nairobi because we put a Wiper candidate against an ODM candidate and against a Ford-Kenya candidate, and in the process The National Alliance emerged the winner in Nairobi. This is because supporters of Wiper supported their candidate and so did ODM and Ford-Kenya. We would have a minimum of 12 seats out of the 17 parliamentary seats in Nairobi. So we must learn from that mistake. I am still of the view that we should register CORD the way we registered Narc. And because the Constitution says one cannot belong to two parties some people can go straight to CORD while others remain in their respective parties because we do not intend to fold the parties. However, I must be guided by the decision we shall all take, that is to tell you in my view that we should have joint nominations in areas that will be identified like Nairobi and Mombasa. But where Wiper is strong, or Ford-Kenya or ODM, it does not matter if we run because it would be unlikely to have a Jubilee candidate winning.
Q: A lot of focus is currently on Mombasa and Kakamega where CORD affiliate parties already have aspirants, all holding senior positions in their respective parties. How are you planning to deal with that?
We will be guided by the wisdom of the coalition management team who are yet to sit over the issue. And in any event, take the example of Kakamega, do you think there is a likelihood of a Jubilee candidate winning even if both Khalwale and Oparanya are on the ballot? It would be one of them but never Jubilee. So to that extent we are not worried.
Q: Would you support a change of elections date?
That one is unheard of, you cannot allow one extra day for Jubilee in the office. It would require a Constitutional amendment. August 8 is the election date and everybody must work towards its realisation.
Q: You went to the streets to push out besieged electoral commissioners out of office. Are you comfortable with the ongoing implementation of electoral reforms?
Jubilee is trying to meander. They are trying to mess around with the biometric voting system. As Wiper we have made it clear that the best option is to lease the equipment. There are companies willing to work in that direction and huge democracies like India have used this. If you buy equipment it can only mean you are looking for your commission – as usual “chickengate” – and after that the whole thing is obsolete as it happened last time. This time everything must work in a clockwise manner; precision, credibility, transparency, fairness and predictability.
Q: Jubilee has asked IEBC to conduct its primaries and National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale has said it will be financed by the Exchequer. What’s your take?
I don’t even know whether they have the time, they must demonstrate that they have capacity do so. If there is money from the Exchequer then it should be applied across board, and IEBC must come out and say that we are set to carry primaries for all parties. But if IEBC fall into the trap of saying we have only been requested by Jubilee and therefore we are doing their nominations, I tell you there would be chaos in this country the following day. They would have lost the moral authority to conduct the General Election. So they should make a recommendation that they are ready for everybody.
Q; What is the wisdom of expelling party rebels?
We are not in the process of expelling, we are in the process of realising our disciplinary processes. There are people who have formed their own political parties. So they have literally expelled themselves. But I know their trick is simple and again that is why I have a problem with our court system, they want to go so slow. The intention is to appeal up to the Supreme Court so that they can complete their terms. Why would our courts allow themselves to be used this way?
Q: Critics would say this is political intolerance because the same CORD that is expelling its rebels is receiving leaders from other parties?
Ask yourself what political intolerance is there when you form your party after getting your seat on the strength of Wiper party. When you expel yourself you cannot call that intolerance. If anything CORD should be given full marks for disciplining such leaders. It is Jubilee which is messing up our democracy by taking us back to one-party State.
Q: What specific measures would you take to fight corruption if elected President?
I think Kenyans are sick and tired of this corruption discussion because if I tell you that the next government (CORD) will have zero-tolerance on corruption, that sounds like quite familiar stuff. But I can tell you for a fact that Kenyans will expect action. The unfortunate thing is the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) that has let the country down. The thing is this commission has not been given prosecutorial powers so there is this confusion between EACC and the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions. It is a cat-and-mouse game between the two institutions. I think both should have powers to prosecute.