The presence of ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi when Uhuru Kenyatta delivered his address on the Covid-19 pandemic at the KICC last Monday has sparked speculations about his next political move in the murky political scenario ahead of 2022.
Mudavadi is among leading key politicians whose future hangs in the balance, if he fails to make the right call, as the country hurtles towards the 2022 succession general election. Other key politicians whose political decisions are being keenly watched as Uhuru heads towards the end of his two terms include Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula and Martha Karua. Karua and Makueni governor, Kivutha Kibwana met Mudavadi at a city hotel and they are said to be working on a new alliance dubbed as the Third Force. They are said to enjoy the backing of civil societies falling under the Kongamano La Mageuzi Movement (Congress of Change Movement).
Key players in the change movement are former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, economist David Ndii, George Kegero, Gladwell Otieno and Lucia Ayela. The outfit is soliciting funds from donors ahead of 2022 running into billions of shillings to facilitate civic education and oppose the envisaged referendum. Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Karua have contested for the presidency in the past, and currently are scheming how to remain relevant come the 2022 general election by either contesting again or being part of the emerging political alliances. Kalonzo has in the recent past been warming up to Uhuru and his party has since signed a pre-election deal with the Jubilee party ahead of the 2022 general election signaling his desire to be part of the president’s 2022 political formation.
In this group is ODM leader Raila Odinga, although his party has refused to sign a pre-election agreement with Jubilee. He had earlier entered into a working relationship with the president through a unity pact commonly referred to as The Handshake. Uhuru has in the recent past been consulting with key political players in the country that include Raila, Gideon Moi and Kalonzo in what is understood to be part of a consensus-building formula that could see them form a government of national unity ahead of the 2022 general election. The opposition leaders who have agreed to be part of Uhuru’s 2022 formation are expected to nominate their allies for plum jobs in government.
It is against this background that political observers are intimating that Mudavadi’s presence at KICC when Uhuru delivered his address on the Covid-19 pandemic could be an indication of the two warming up to each other before making a major political pronouncement. Uhuru is known to have a soft-spot for Mudavadi since he was his presidential running mate in the 2002 general election that was won by retired president Mwai Kibaki, but since then political suspicion has dodged their relationship. Mudavadi has been a victim of succession politics since 2002 when he broke away from the Rainbow Alliance that supported Kibaki’s presidential bid to team up with Uhuru.
While Mudavadi was busy campaigning for Uhuru, Kanu operatives during president Daniel Arap Moi’s regime ensured he lost the Sabatia parliamentary seat to former Vihiga governor Moses Akaranga. Since then, Mudavadi has been prone to political blunders that threaten to cut short his political career in 2022 if he fails to make the right call of either being a strong presidential candidate or being a member of the two merging powerful political blocs that coalesce around ODM leader Raila Odinga and DP William Ruto. But it has to be noted that Mudavadi’s hesitation in working with Uhuru is based on what happened to him ahead of the 2013 general election during Kibaki’s succession when Uhuru and Ruto ganged up and signed with him, an MoU, stating that they had dropped from the presidential race and they were going to support Mudavadi only for them to renege.
Uhuru later claimed that dark forces had prevailed upon him not to contest the presidency in 2013 due to the crime against humanity cases that were facing him and Ruto at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. The emerging unity pacts could see the opposition parties line up behind Uhuru to not only work together on his succession in 2022 but also to fast-track constitutional reforms in line with the BBI that has since changed its name to Building Bridges to a United Kenya Taskforce. Uhuru and Raila are pushing for constitutional changes that will provide for the sharing of power among all political parties through the establishment of a parliamentary system of government.
The recent purge in parliament that saw allies of DP Ruto opposed to the BBI process being removed from key committees was said to be meant to help the president smoothly push through his agenda in the august house. Governors whose two-terms are coming to an end in 2022 are also said to be scheming how to remain relevant in the new political dispensation and they are currently weighing their options before making a move. Some are likely to remain loyal to the political formation that coalesces around Uhuru and Raila while others are calculating how to jump ship and join DP Ruto’s political bandwagon.
The governors whose two-five-years term come to an end in 2022 include Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Amason Kingi (Kilifi), James Ongwae (Kisii), Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Sospeter Ojamoong (Busia) and Patrick Khaemba (Trans-Nzoia). Others are Mwangi wa Iria (Muranga), Martin Wambora (Embu), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Okoth Obado (Migori), Cyprian Awiti (Homa Bay) and Cornel Rasanga (Siaya). While DP Ruto and ODM leader Raila have emerged as frontrunners in the 2022 succession politics, one person that should not be ignored is the Amani National Congress leader Mudavadi. Some of the governors like Governor Joho are angling for the position of deputy prime minister while others will be contented with cabinet positions or even position of majority leaders and speakers in the senate and national assembly.
Just before and after the controversial 2017 general election that had been nullified by the Supreme Court, MM as Mudavadi is fondly called by those close to him had travelled a treacherous and winding political career before cutting for himself the image of an astute and calculating political operative. But come the day when Raila was to be sworn in as the ‘people’s president’ and Mudavadi made another major political blunder by failing to show up at Uhuru Park where the swearing-in ceremony took place. Mudavadi, a Nasa co-principal was to later to explain that he did not attend Raila’s controversial swearing-in because the process was unconstitutional.
This development infuriated his supporters who accused him of demonstrating that he lacked the “spine” to lead the country and they have been on his case ever since. That is why to some, he cuts the image of a master of statecraft while to others he is a colourless politician prone to indecisiveness. They are wondering will it be MM who will carry the coveted trophy of being Kenya’s fifth president or it will be another disastrous attempt lacking in strategy and tactics. This time around, Mudavadi’s supporters want him to mount a massive political campaign based on a well-designed and elaborate strategy and tactics and not a disjointed one based on an illusion that he is going to be the ‘state’ candidate as it happened to him in 2013.
Nevertheless, Mudavadi enjoys widespread support both locally, and internationally as a man who can fix the problems that have faced the country. The Luhya community has produced three vice presidents since independence and as the country focuses its attention on the 2022 general election, political observers are asking will Mudavadi be the one to succeed Uhuru? Mudavadi is among the three vice presidents the Luhya community has produced since 2002 when he was appointed by late Moi as his deputy after the decamping from Kanu of George Saitoti.
Another Luhya, the late Kijana Wamalwa, was Kibaki’s running mate and he ended up being the second VP from the Mulembe nation. When Wamalwa died, Moody Awori, another Luhya, was appointed as VP. But what has happened to Mudavadi’s political career since 2002 to date should serve as a political lesson that will define how he is going to approach the 2022 Uhuru succession. Mudavadi’s supporters are keenly watching his next political moves ahead of the 2022 general election and they will either dip their straws in his political pot or abandon him and back the 2022 formations that revolve around Uhuru-Raila and DP Ruto.