- February 5, 2021
- Posted by: p mulee
A section of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inner-circle is quietly pushing ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi to be his preferred successor, triggering disquiet among bigwigs.
The Star has established some powerful forces around State House are working on an elaborate scheme to make Musalia as the only formidable candidate against Deputy President William Ruto.
However, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s team insists he should be given a final chance to lead the country— for five years — and that his bastions would revolt if he is not on the ballot.
“Who said Raila’s bases would easily embrace another candidate? And what would be the basis of telling a more popular candidate to back the others? Raila will only serve for five years. He should be given a chance,” a close ally of the ODM leader confided to the Star.
Secret meetings involving close allies of the President have been held, including a recent one at Panafric Hotel, to explore the pros and cons of a Mudavadi candidature.
On Monday evening, two senior Jubilee insiders drove to Musalia’s office but details of their discussions remain scant.
There are fears a Musalia endorsement by Uhuru without Raila’s support would backfire and possibly give Ruto an easy ride to State House.
There has been palpable excitement within Raila’s bases that with his truce with the President, he would finally get the magic backing of ‘the system’ that would propel him to power
President Uhuru has always had a soft spot for Musalia — his co-deputy prime minister in the grand coalition — a man he wanted to endorse for the country’s top job ahead of the 2013 presidential polls at the height of the ICC cases.
Uhuru would later renege on the promise to support Musalia to succeed then retiring President Mwai Kibaki claiming he was “misled by demons” after his Central backyard flatly rejected the pact.
In recent weeks, Musalia has been working closely with Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Gideon Moi (Kanu) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) with the four saying they intend to cobble together a coalition.
Raila’s ODM has been excluded.
Gideon’s invited guests for President Moi’s first death anniversary on Thursday was telling, with President Uhuru, Musalia, Kalonzo and Wetang’ula in attendance.
Raila, who had a protracted battle with Moi, was missing and held separate political activities in Nairobi.
ANC deputy party leader and Lugari MP Ayub Savula said, “There is a lot going on behind the scenes and a winning team will be unveiled.
“If there is anyone who cannot see or hear, then they should be able to feel all pointers of the direction the country is heading to politically,” Savula said.
Kwisero MP Christopher Aseka (ANC) said the coming together of Mudavadi, Kalonzo, Gideon and Wetang’ula “is not without the knowledge of the state”.
He said Mudavadi is the preferred candidate because of his non-polarising politics that resonates well with the President’s agenda of unifying the country.
“A political student should now be able to tell we are making progress in that direction. It is not a coincidence that you see the leaders working with Mudavadi,” Savula said.
The MP said they will no longer as the Luhya community entrust their leadership to Raila but instead back Mudavadi to the man.
“We have been going to the national negotiating table through Raila but enough is enough. It is time for our own – Mudavadi. Any leader from Western region not with us will suffer political consequences,” he said.
However, ODM director of campaigns Junet Mohamed termed a Musalia presidency just a “story” to them.
“Politics is a game of numbers and what will determine the next president would be the numbers. Whoever has the majority will win, it is not about support from this one or that or the other,” Junet said.
The Suna East MP said the ODM party had rolled out a robust programme that would culminate in the selection of its 2022 presidential candidate.
“The fact is that ODM is constituted to look for political power – anything besides that is a story for us as a party,” he said, indicating the ODM party will not back down.
The ODM camp has kicked off an aggressive rebranding and repositioning exercise ahead of 2022.
Raila is working on a plan to consolidate his bastions of Coast and Western in a strategy to fend off Ruto’s forays.
However, Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu (Ford Kenya) warned that while a Musalia presidency would be “generous”, the ANC leader must sprint out of the fledgling coalition to fight for his space.
“ He should be wary of an endorsement by a departing president, given the history in this country. Musalia should be able to demonstrate that he is a fighter and not one waiting to be anointed,” Simiyu said.
The politician insisted the quartet of Musalia, Gideon, Kalonzo and Wetang’ula does not “inspire a lot of confidence” unless the ANC leader defines his space by breaking away and standing on his own.
“Musalia should be ahead of the pack and start campaigns because the main opponent Ruto is already all over campaigning, and to challenge him you won’t need money but a carefully crafted message,” Simiyu said.
However, Nambale MP Sakwa Bunyasi (ANC) said Musalia is best suited to take over from President Kenyatta.
“We will not reject any endorsement from the President or even any other leader,” he said.
At Moi’s home, Musalia fired a ferocious salvo at Ruto, asking Uhuru to take the DP back to the “bench for scoring an own goal”, in a metaphor striking at the heart of the succession battle.
The DP has been attacking his own Jubilee government and launched an aggressive countrywide hustler nation campaign to succeed Uhuru after falling out of favour in the succession matrix.
“Even if you will not draw the sword, when a player scores an own goal he must be forced to the bench,” the ANC leader said as he showered praise on Uhuru’s leadership.
He went on,: “President Uhuru, you have done very well in keeping this country together….you have said we must stick to a certain tradition…you were a good student of President Moi.”
This was a clear change of heart, or tactics, from a man who has previously heavily criticised the President for overseeing the collapse of the economy.