Musalia Mudavadi needs the experience of being on the presidential ballot box in 2013
By Maurice Amutabi
Many observers feel that the chances for Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi to perform strongly in the 2013 presidential poll are still there and there are many reasons for this. The first reason is the court case which seeks to disqualify five contenders – Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi from running for the presidency Musalia Mudavadi is likely to be exonerated because the he has been absolved by courts on all the counts before courts. The rest have not been cleared by the courts on the issues they are being accused. Therefore, it is possible that Musalia Mudavadi may be handed a lifeline if the court rules against the rest integrity issues. With the increasing independence of the judiciary in Kenya, this is not remote possibility and may explain why fringe candidates such as Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth, Eugene Wamalwa and Raphael Tuju are staying put in the race.
There are also many analysts who feel that Musalia Mudavadi still stands a good chance of turning the tables on his opponents if he can market himself as a compromise candidate that will bring about unity in the country, a country requiring healing from the 2007 post election violence. The campaigns have started and the name-calling and personal attacks that have attended some of the rallies is raising temperatures in the country to palpable levels which has got everyday worried. There are those who feel that Musalia Mudavadi can still market himself as a good alternative to the coalitions. Although the odds against him right now are humongous and hard to overcome, Musalia Mudavadi needs to build himself as a candidate for the future, for peace and prosperity and not one for grandstanding and ethnic animosity.
Regardless of the outcome in 2013 elections, many political analysts argue that Musalia Mudavadi needs to get the experience of his name being on the ballot box. He needs to get the experience of being compared with others and not be cast as one who fears the ballot box by his detractors. His rivals such as Raila Odinga have been on the presidential ballot many times already and a lot of of them have lost badly and used the lessons to build their careers. Raila Odinga has been on the ballot box two times before, losing badly in 1997 and coming a respectable second in 2007. Uhuru Kenyatta was on the presidential ballot in 2002 and came a distant second to the eventual winner Emilio Mwai Kibaki. Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka was on the presidential ballot in 2007 and placed a distant third. Charity Ngilu was on the ballot in 1997 and placed a distant fifth. Musalia Mudavadi has never been on the presidential ballot and this has is perhaps his chance to stamp his mark in Kenya politics.
Some political analysts have been claiming that Musalia Mudavadi is jinxed because he always seems to walk away from a winning combination. There are those who have argued that he was most likely going to be the compromise candidate of the opposition against KANU in 2002 and Mwai Kibaki ended up getting the position. More recently he was the presumed running mate for Raila Odinga in ODM until he bolted in February 2012. What such analysts do not know that Musalia Mudavadi’s position in ODM as running mate of Raila Odinga was not sealed and there was talk that he should become the governor of Nairobi with ODM’s support so to allow Raila Odinga to get a running mate who would bring the numbers (meaning William Ruto or Henry Kosgey or Sally Kosgey).
Many in ODM did not take Musalia Mudavadi seriously. They saw him as a liability to the party and thought that he did not fit their calculations in clinching the presidency in the first round. They accused him of failing to unite the 3 million Luhya voters. They accused him of being colourless and not aggressive enough and allowing little known parties to fight ahainst ODM in western. These assertions and claims were beginning to work on his mind as he campaigned to get the ODM presidential ticket against Raila Odinga and his popularity rose, he started to attract criticism, accused of dividing the party. It reached a point of no return when it was discovered that a clause had been sneaked into the ODM constitution that indicated that only the party leader could be the flag bearer of the party. Raila Odinga was the party leader. Musalia Mudavadi has been invited to run against Raila Odinga for a race that was going nowhere. He was walked out of ODM into UDF.
Until Musalia Mudavadi bolted out of ODM early this year, there are many who saw him as laid back and unaggressive. For quite some time, the name of Musalia Mudavadi featured in many discussion forums as a possible successor to Mwai Kibaki. Many political analysts saw him as neutral and compromise candidate. They suggested that since he was a gentleman, the country needed such a person in order to create a smooth transition. There are those who saw his forgiving and honest approach to politics as a good thing for a Kenya still recovering from post election violence of 2007.
There has been talk since 2010 that Musalia Mudavadi was the preferred presidential candidate in the Kibaki state house, allegations that were vehemently denied by Musalia Mudavadi and the Kibaki administration. What was ironic was that the same people who regarded alleged Kibaki’s support for Musalia Mudavadi as bad and a weakness, craved the same support, asking Mwai Kibaki through proxies to declare them as ‘Tosha’ (fit) to lead the nation. James Orengo pleaded with President Mwai Kibaki to make such a declaration in Kisumu for Raila. In a similar fashion, joint government chief whip Johnston Muthama made a similar pleading for Kalonzo Musyoka, asking Kibaki to endorse the Wiper Democratic Party leader.
Sometimes Musalia Mudavadi has come across as unprepared for violent nature of Kenyan politics. He has come across as too trusting and even susceptible to political schemes around him. He has been accused for being naive and accused even after being wronged. He has seemed to think that all politicians are as honest as he is. He is regarded as the ‘gentleman’ of Kenya’s politics, and has in the past received the brunt of aggressive politicians. Uhuru Kenyatta, whom he supported as presumed vice presidential running mate in 2002 and made him lose his Sabatia seat was unwilling to cede space for him. There is now talk that the loss by Musalia Mudavadi in Sabatia was supported by insiders who hoped that if KANU emerged victorious without Musalia Mudavadi, Uhuru Kenyatta would be prevailed upon him to nominate Gedion Moi as Vice President. That is now water under the bridge or as they say, history.
Observers have noted that it was Musalia Mudavadi’s joining of the Jubilee coalition on December 4, 2012 that captured the headlines on December 5, 2012 and not CORD. His move was reported in one of the blogs as momentous, described as ‘a political masterstroke’ and ‘likely game changer’ in Kenya’s volatile politics. The blog sphere was full of praise for the trio – Uhuru, Ruto and Musalia, stating that they had staged a coup de grace against Raila Odinga and the CORD alliance. Indeed, when Musalia was in Jubilee, he attracted a lot of brick bats from CORD luminaries because he has upped the game and in the number games, Jubilee was running ahead. The assumption was that with Musalia Mudavadi as the flag bearer under Jubilee, the Kalenjin would be finally on board to vote for the alliance. Many Kalenjin were enthusiastic because they had argued that it was hard to sell an Uhuru Kenyatta candidacy. On the other hand, William Ruto was said to be uneasy with a Musalia Mudavadi’s entry into Jubilee coalition because he was seen as being supported by former KANU elements. If Musalia Mudavadi stayed in the coalition, his presence would have revive the KANU elements whom Ruto had vanquished.
Although the stay of Musalia Miudavadi in the Jubilee coalition was short-lived, it generated a lot of interest in the nation and made political analysts realize how it is important for any leader to create a winning alliance. Since Kenyan politics are played along ethnic lines, whoever is able to create a winning alliance is able to win. Winning and losing an election in Kenya depends on where those joining the coalition come from, and the number of registered voters in one’s ethnic group count. Of the presidential contenders in Western Kenya Musalia Mudavadi had the clout and following. This is the reason many politicians were warning towards him, including cabinet ministers. The problem was that there were external forces that were working to ensure that western Kenya did not remain united under any one candidate. Western Kenya was a swing region and many wanted to make to remain so.
Political analysts are projecting that Musalia Mudavadi will come third in the 2013 presidential elections if he does not run on any one of the big two coalitions, as is going to be the case after Raila Odinga clinched the CORD ticket and Uhuru Kenyatta was confirmed as the flag bearer of Jubilee as was long believed and expected. Although the projections are that CORD is likely to win largely due to what Jubilee and other coalitions have not done, the reasoning is that Musalia Mudavadi would have been a strong contender under a Jubilee coalition. Many pundits believe that Musalia is likely to get the same third position whether he runs under UDF or under a ‘Third Force’, with minor political actors such as Peter Kenneth, Raphael Tuju, Martha Karua, and others.
Many political analysts had difficult times in projecting the winner of 2013 elections with Musalia Mudavadi as the flaf bearer under Jubiliee collation and Raila Odinga under CORD coalition. Right now, many pundits are projecting that Raila Odinga will win the presidential race in 2013 because they believe that the Kalenjin vote which Uhuru hopes to get will not be readily available to him due to many factors. There are those who think that the events of 2013 are still fresh in the minds of many in the region and are not likely to vote for Uhuru Kenyatta. There are also those who have argued that Musalia Mudavadi would not have received all the Kikuyu votes because Kikuyu always vote on top of the ticket. It is possible that Peter Kenneth and Martha Karua were waiting for such an eventuality and may have felt bad when Musalia Mudavadi was denied the ticket of Jubilee.
Musalia Mudavadi should be patient and continue with his campaigns across the county. There are those who will give him sympathy votes as the guy who was deceived and moved on without bitterness. There are also those who see him more wronged and therefore a guy who can understand the needs of others who have been wronged in the past. He may also be a beneficiary of those who do not want to vote along historical rivalries of Kenyatta and Odinga family. There are many Kenyans who want a break from independence politics of Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and who feel that other families can also produce leaders. This is an opportunity that Musalia Mudavadi can explore. There are still many possibilities for Musalia Mudavadi in the run up to 2013 elections. His road to State House is not just through CORD and Jubilee. The first option and which is the most viable is staying the course and marketing UDF as an alternative to the tribal alliances of CORD and Jubilee.
Prof. Amutabi teaches Political Science at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.