The Choice of Running Mate the Biggest Challenge for Musalia Mudavadi
By Maurice N. Amutabi
The Kenyan political grapevine is awash with all kinds of rumours on who will be the running mate for Musalia Mudavadi. The rumour mills are awash with very surprising names, some of which are credible, but some are outlandishly out of this world. The good thing is that rumours are part and parcel of politics. Sometimes even politicians generate some of these rumours in order to gauge what people are thinking. Musalia Mudavadi is certainly among the top three guns aspiring for presidency going by the latest polls and which the reason why his every move is being watched carefully by Kenyans. There are many factors working to the advantage of Musalia Mudavadi, one of which is that Raila Odinga is finding it very hard to choose on his running mate. There are those who know that the moment he names a running from outside Western, all those still remaining in ODM will stream to UDF. But that is a strong for another day. Today, it about Musalia Mudavadi’s running mate.
Many pundits think that the greatest challenge as yet to Musalia Mudavadi will be choosing his running mate. Many political analysts know that this where Mudavadi will enhance or minimize his chances of becoming president. There are those observers who think that a great choice would be someone from an ethnic group which does not have a presidential candidate. There are those who feel that a community with a presidential would not waste votes on someone as second on a ticket, especially in the high stakes elections of 2012 or 2013. There are also those who feel that Mudavadi should not choose a candidate from western part of the country, where there is a lot of pressure for votes from UDF, ODM and URP.
The list of potential running mates for Mudavadi is very long. There have been rumours doing rounds that Musalia Mudavadi was going to team with either Uhuru Kenyatta or William Ruto. For Uhuru Kenyatta, teaming up with Musalia on the lower end of the ticket will be political suicide. The Kikuyu would not vote for any one running as vice president. This is the reason that the recent denial of such a possibility by Uhuru Kenyatta, instead preferring to run with Eugene Wamalwa as his running mate makes more sense. This is why Uhuru Kenyatta can never be Musalia Mudavadi’s running mate, even if that would be a near-winning ticket, coming close to the Musalia-Raila ticket. But you can never president political alliances. There are rumours that that the future of UDF and TNA are connected, somewhere in the future. There are those who say that the two have been established by the same forces and their future paths may meet somewhere, for they have considerable converging interests and realities based on regional politics. some Central and Western Kenya politicians may look at Raila Odinga and Luo Nyanza as a common enemy and decide to come together to defeat Raila Odinga and ODM as a result.
Similarly, William Ruto who has his own presidential ambitions may never want to be any one’s running mate, although there are strong signals from the grapevine to suggest that this is a possibility. If Mudavadi received slightly over half of the Luhya vote and Ruto attracted just half of the Kalenjin vote, the two will be leading in the first round of presidential elections. The only problem is that Ruto has launched his own campaign and has even selected his own running mate from the coast. There is therefore no likelihood that he would team up with Musalia Mudavadi. Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto see Mudavadi as their biggest possibility of pulling the rug under the feet of Raila Odinga. If they decide to follow this to its logical conclusion, there is a huge possibility that they back Musalia Mudavadi in case of a re-run against Raila Odinga. Although their interests converge, it is not possible for them to be on Mudavadi;s ticket as running mates. Thus, outside Uhuru and Ruto as sharing a ticket with Musalia Mudavadi, there are many other possibilities.
Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are both facing crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, a fact that might later compromise their eligibility as presidential candidates. Although Kalonzo Musyoka had located himself strategically to be benefit from such eventuality, it is not becoming clear that it would either be Eugene Wamalwa or Musalia Mudavadi who might be the beneficiaries of such eventuality. Section 6 on leadership and integrity clause may bar them from running even if they were interested. Most likely, the courts will rule that they cannot run for office. If former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Barasa was forced to step aside for being suspected of touching the nose of a guard, accusations against crime against humanity are really grave and more serious. This leaves Mudavadi with the possibility of other options for running mates.
Top on the list is MP Abidkadir Mohammed, who is an official in UDF. The youthful and brilliant MP is from North Eastern Province is one of the leading lights in the present parliament and chairs the all powerful committee that is the mid wife of the new constitution. The fact that he is a Muslim and from a region that does not have a presidential contender gives him a head start in Mudavadi’s search for a running mate. Ever since he entered parliament, Abidkadir Mohammed has cut an image of statesman and has handled himself with decorum and dignity in a parliament that has produced some shocks in quality and decorum such as the MP for Makadara Mike Mbuvi alias Sonko. Abidkadir Mohammed has two advantages working for him – he is young and will attract youth to the party or at least claim that constituency for UDF. This will carry the current believe that UDF is a party of the youth far and wider. already teaming up with youthful MPs such as Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, Mukurweini MP Kabando wa Kabando and Nominated MP George Nyamweya, this will catapult UDF to new heights.
As a Muslim, Abidkadir Mohammed is likely to attract those Muslim voters who have regarded Prime Minister Raila Odinga as having betrayed them. Kenya has about 5.5 million Muslim voters, which accounts for the many trips that potential presidential candidates have made to Mombasa and the coastal region in general. This will be a plus for Mudavadi and UDF, a possibility that Raila Odinga does not have, because many are looking to him to replace Musalia Mudavadi with a Luhya, or otherwise the Luhya vote goodbye. Abidkadir Mohammed will galvanise the youth and minority groups in the country as well. The biggest weakness is the fact that the Somali do not have the numbers – less than 3 million – as a bloc. Secondly, the Somali have had bad publicity in the past, where they are seen to be dominating in high profile positons such as IEBC and other constitutional positions. There are also those who do not separate the Kenyan Somali from their counterparts in Somalia. The Al Shabaab activities have cast the Somali community in bad light. These factors may have a backlash on UDF, with Abidkadir Mohammed on the ticket. His inclusion may have advantages and disadvantages.
The name of Najib Balala has also inundated rumour mills as a likely choice for Musalia Mudavadi’s running mate. Being a former minister, he has national leadership experience on his side compared to Abidkadir Mohammed. He is also a skilled campaigner. Being a Muslim, he is also likely to attract Muslim votes against ODM and Raila Odinga. Since he has been wronged by Raila Odinga and ODM, there are those who think that he may make it personal and become a real critic and ‘attack dog’ for Musalia Mudavadi and UDF. Unfortunately, Najib Balala may not qualify to run for president or senator or governor because he does not have a university degree. He is likely to be disqualified on technicality and pave way for someone else.
Charity Ngilu is another high profile politician whose name has featured prominently on the Musalia Mudavadi running mate in the grapevine. There is no doubt that Mama Rainbow would present unique advantages to the UDF ticket. As a woman, such a possibility would galvanise women on the side of UDF. She is charismatic and a skilled vote seeker, who is not afraid to get into the mud, as she has done many times against Kalonzo Musyoka in Ukambani. There are also those who say that she is very loyal and can deliver what she promises. She is also a good fighter and she knows how to answer back and Musalia Mudavadi will need such a person, to do the dirty job, of attack dog, which his name of Mr Clean, may not allow him to do. But Ngilu has many disadvantages. She would not bring many Kamba votes to UDF because Kalonzo Musyoka is likely to be on the ticket, despite the negotiations with Uhuru Kenyatta and George Saitoti for joint nominations. Unless he is the nominee in the G7 grouping, Kalonzo Musyoka will be on the ballot and will be in Uhuru Kenyatta, going by the launching of The National Alliance (TNA) party. Ngilu does not have a degree and this may work against her, unless she completes her current undergraduate studies at St. Paul’s University in Limuru soon.
Kiraitu Murungi and Joe Nyagah have also been mentioned as possible running mates to Musalia Mudavadi. There is no doubt that for UDF Mudavadi was a major catch and it may not be totally out of the expected if UDF pulled in yet another big catch as a running mate for Musalia Mudavadi. It is due to this reason that there have been suggestions that George Saitoti or Joe Nyagah may be approached to be running mates to Mudavadi. Just like Raila Odinga may not name his running mate until it is too late for the likes of Fred Gumo, Ababu Namwamba and other to defect to another party, it is possible that UDF may use the same tactic in order to delay and hold on the likely falling out. UDF will be happy to live with the fact that Mudavadi’s to thir little known party gave it national recognition overnight. A high profile running mate to Musalia Mudavadi may create even more interest. Unfortunately, George Saitoti and Joe Nyagah do not appear to have the numbers. The Mbere are a minority community and they already have a presidential candidate Rev. Mutava Musyimi. Similarly, the Kikuyu-Maasai lineage which has been associated with Saitoti already has many presidential candidates, which rules out any possibility of asking him to be running mate. Similarly, Peter Kenneth will not be an attractive running mate to Mudavadi because of the same reasons – the Kikuyu would not vote for anyone running to be vice president. Many believe that one of their own must be on top of the ticket, which rules out Peter Kenneth.
Other names that have featured in the UDF line up include Martha Karua, Dr Sally Kosgei, Prof. Margaret Kamar, Naomi Shabaan, William Ntimama, Katana Ngala and Gedion Moi. Like Raila Odinga and ODM, the UDF forces are silent about rumours about running mate for Mjusalia Mudavadi. They all keep saying that this running mate bridge will be crossed when the time comes. For now, the focus is on marketing the UDF and its policies to Kenyans.
Prof. Amutabi teaches Political Science at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.