- January 10, 2020
- Posted by: p mulee
Is President Uhuru Kenyatta grooming ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi to succeed him?
The Star has reported the two have been having regular meetings in the last few months where 2022 succession discussions have featured.
It is not clear what the two are planning but people close to both politicians tell the Star the relationship between the two is “improving”.
“The two are not strangers to each other and seem to have forgiven each other for what happened in 2013 when Uhuru disowned an agreement to support Mudavadi for President,” said a State House official aware of the goings-on.
Thursday Mudavadi played down speculation that he might be Kenyatta’s preferred successor.
“Uhuru is the President of Kenya and he is free to invite his friends to his events. People should stop panicking when I am invited by the President. I never panic when others are in the company of the President,” Mudavadi told the Star in an exclusive interview.
The private meetings and discussions between the two culminated in a joint public visit to North Eastern to launch a key government project, triggering anxiety in the political circles.
While Kenyatta promised to back his deputy William Ruto in 2022, his close associates led by former Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe have said Ruto is unfit to be President.
Ruto’s supporters led by Kandara MP Alice Wahome have been attacking the President even accusing him of being a danger to the country.
The President shook hands with ODM leader Raila Odinga two years ago in a move that rubbed Ruto’s supporters the wrong way, raising questions whether Uhuru wanted to back Raila for President in 2022.
The President also handed Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka a job as special envoy to South Sudan, further complicating the political landscape.
Mudavadi makes it clear that he does not want Kenyatta to endorse him because only Kenyans can decide their next President.
The vote-rich Mt Kenya, however, is among the regions where he plans to pitch tent, courting its voters.
Mudavadi has often been seen as a safe pair of hands especially by the elite who fear radical political leaders.
In 2013, Uhuru and Ruto nearly backed him for the presidency over ICC fears but the former dramatically rescinded the decision and claimed he was misled by “madimoni” (devils).
According to Mudavadi “consulting” with the President does not mean he cannot play his role as an opposition politician while at the same time seeking his political backing.
“When you are going for the top seat, you seek the support of everybody, including the President’s. But that does not mean I cannot correct the President when he goes wrong or praise him when he does well. I engage him in a framework of constructive opposition, not just opposing for the sake of it,” he said.
With the 2022 elections fast approaching, Mudavadi is leaving nothing to chance and is already laying the ground for a second stab at the top seat.
Though he prefers to keep his cards close to his chest, Mudavadi’s first plan is to solidify his support base in Western Kenya before going out to seek the backing of other regions.
And he does not envision himself stepping down for another candidate, as he has done in the past.
“I have supported other people for a long time. I have supported retired President Moi, President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2002 and ODM leader Raila Odinga in 2007 and 2017. In reality, I have come out as someone who has supported others. This time, I am going out to look for support for my candidacy,” he explained.
Mudavadi stated that he is not in talks with Deputy President Ruto to strike a political deal, as claimed by a section of the media.
Ruto has occasionally urged Mudavadi to team up with him, but the ANC leader keeps turning down the offer.
Addressing a rally in Sabatia, Vihiga county, in September last year, Ruto asked Mudavadi to support his presidential bid in 2022.
Western is the political home turf of the ANC leader and Sabatia is Mudavadi’s rural constituency and which he served as MP between 1989 and 2013.
Ruto’s choice of Sabatia as the venue to make the offer was probably designed to produce maximum impact. Allies of Mudavadi on the other hand saw it as an affront to the ANC leader’s political doorstep.
Three months down the line, Mudavadi insisted that he will be in the race and even pointed out that he was already wooing people to support him.
On whether he sees himself working together again with his one time close ally, Raila, Mudavadi said he cannot rule it out.
“As to working together again, I think it’s German dramatist Bertolt Brecht who warned against swearing saying ‘never say never’ because never comes before the day is over,” he said.
He nonetheless maintained that the National Super Alliance is very much alive even with threats from ODM to leave the opposition coalition.
ODM alongside Wiper, Ford Kenya and ANC formed Nasa and unsuccessfully challenged Uhuru in the 2017 elections.
Recent remarks by Raila that the outfit is as good as dead did not go down well with partner members. In an interview with a local television station, Raila termed Nasa deadwood since the coalition failed to win power in the last election.
Immediately reacting to the development, Ford Kenya secretary general Simiyu Eseli said ODM wanted to walk away since it may be convenient for them to leave because they owe other coalition members money from the exchequer.
Raila’s party has been threatening to leave Nasa even though a clause in the coalition agreement makes such a move ineffectual. For the coalition to come to an end, three of the affiliates (ANC, Ford Kenya, ODM and Wiper) must leave the alliance.
Mudavadi shared Eseli’s sentiments and maintained that Nasa is very much alive.
“What pains me is an attempt to kill Nasa just because one is uncomfortable paying debts owed. It doesn’t make you a better creditor wherever you go,” he said.
He added: “Of what use is a mortician to an alliance he decides it’s buried before he certifies it dead? All that is desired is for him to give Nasa a decent burial after all bills are paid”
Mudavadi nonetheless hinted at the possibility of being in other coalitions but noted that one can only be in one alliance at a time.
“I reiterate that we’ll be a more formidable alliance devoid of deviants and political counterfeits. It’s an alliance I’ll convince to put the bet on me. I’ve done enough of supporting,” he explained.
He expressed confidence of receiving the needed support to become President. “I have a cure for the current economic malaise. I’m not craving for power for the sake of it. I want the power to benefit Kenyans,” he affirmed.
Mudavadi said his party is currently concentrating on revamping itself to have a strong presence throughout the country.
“We are currently recruiting new members, something that we have been doing silently in all counties as we prepare for party polls,” he revealed.
He continued: “A lot has been happening in Western Kenya because we must have a strong base.”