Is Musalia President Kibaki’s Choice?
Is Musalia Mudavadi your preferred presidential candidate in the forthcoming general election? I know there are those who would be inclined to counsel that I am trying to create mischief by asking you this question. But I would beg to differ. I am of the view that in this society that has transited from sirikali (government top secret), we deserve some transparency from you as our head of state.
I know you have previously strenuously denied claims and allegations that Musalia is a State House project. The most egregious example was the reaction to claims made by veteran journalist David Makali when he wrote a column in this same newspaper stating unequivocally that Musalia is your favoured presidential candidate.
But in life there is what is said and what is done. When stories circulated in the media that you had more than one family, you marched out of your magnificent residence on the hill, with Mama Lucy in tow, and “clarified” that this was not the case. All this was well and good but your statement still did not fully clarify why the person who is said to be your other wife, for instance, enjoys full state protection.
In similar vein, may I also remind you that almost all accounts of the agreement(s) that consolidated the political alliance that was called the National Rainbow Alliance Coalition stated that you had agreed to be a one, five-year-term President and that there would be a 50-50 power sharing agreement between the National Alliance of Kenya party and the Liberal Democratic Party. Later, when you were overwhelmingly confirmed as the third President of the Republic of Kenya, these agreements seemed spontaneously dissolved.
My simple point, dear Emilio, is that in politics what we say and what is actually the reality are frequently polar opposites. So, despite your denials, I have to again ask: is Musalia your preferred presidential candidate in the next general election in Kenya? There have been several pointers that this is the case.
Just last weekend, Musalia was reading your condolence messages in two funerals in Western Kenya – at the funeral of Joseph Awori and then at that of “the Peoples’ Watchman” Martin Shikuku. Surely, this simple fact would send tongues wagging in overdrive. The question most would ask is “why Musalia”? Some have hypothesised that it is because he is clearly the most senior politician from Western province who was in attendance.
But that really does not wash with more seasoned political observers. The political tradition has invariably been that it is the senior-most politician at any function who reads the president's speech: not the senior-most politician from the region. This is not a fitting analogy but it will do nevertheless: imagine a situation when you were former President Moi’s Vice President and you were attending a funeral in Western Kenya where he was not present – what would it have said of you if, despite your presence, the most senior politician from that region then had read the President’s speech?
This year, this has happened before: at the Madaraka Day celebrations on June 1 Musalia invited you to address the nation – yet, Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also a Deputy Prime Minister was attending these celebrations. There are those who have argued that in this case the idea was to “de-Kikuyunise” the celebrations since the son of Jomo is clearly from the Kikuyu community whence you hail.
This argument would have been purchasable had this latest happening in Western Kenya not occurred. You see, these years of the coalition agreement have taught us that state protocol is a clear arena of power play and intrigue. One can recall how early in the life of the grand coalition arrangement that was entered into between yourself and the Right Honourable Prime Minister, the role of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka became very contentious as he – and the retinue around you - sought to publicly portray him as “more senior” than the Prime Minister.
My dear Emilio: unlike when it is about economic policy, you are not known to be explicit when it comes to your political thoughts and intentions. We are always forced to read between the lines and, at such a delicate and momentous moment in the country, this could be totally detrimental to the health of Kenya. You see, if you do indeed have a preferred candidate, then you are not a neutral or objective player in the political succession drama that will surely unfold at the next elections since you will certainly not be on the ballot. This is critical because all Kenyans will need to understand this.
I know that coming out and saying that so-and-so is your preferred presidential candidate is most likely the kiss of death to their ambitions. Look at what happened to Uhuru Kenyatta in 2002 when former President Moi anointed him as his chosen successor. This galvanised all the others who had ambitions to succeed Moi into an anti-Uhuru platform – finally and ultimately handing him electoral humiliation through NARC.
But really, if we are to be a democracy that boasts of transparency and accountability, these kinds of monumental decisions need to be announced and explained. After all, everyone that is on the presidential ballot in the next elections seems to have a rationale why you owe them. For instance, it was Raila Odinga who said “Kibaki tosha” in 2002 putting to rest any disputation of who would lead the united opposition front that year.
In 2007, both Uhuru Kenyatta and Kalonzo Musyoka would support your presidential bid and lend numbers and credence to your bid. And was it not Martha Karua who tenaciously led the spirited fight on your behalf at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre when the results were being hotly disputed? Yes, this is the situation: recent events have told us that there seems to be a move to prefer Musalia. Even the political party on which he is running is said to have been founded in State House. So, dear Emilio, is this the case?
Mugambi Kiai is the Kenya Program Manager at the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA). The views expressed in this article are entirely his own and do not reflect the views of OSIEA