INAUGURATION PROJECT

Mudavadi the phoenix rises again

He’s been in losing outfits since 2002 but bet correctly this time

In Summary

• Critics had wished he’d emerge from these elections so bruised, he'd quit politics

• Famed for honesty and integrity, he will lend credibility to a regime fighting graft

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi during prayer at a Sunday church service in Kayole on August 7
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi during prayer at a Sunday church service in Kayole on August 7
Image: DPPS

Musalia Mudavadi, like the phoenix, rises again. He’s cyclically regenerated and reborn from the doldrums of the political dumping pit. Like the legendary Phoenix, he has gained a new life by arising from political ashes.

He’s the quintessential gentleman of unfazed character when all is going south around him. The one whose emotion is difficult to read during crisis, is literally back from the cold. He is back with a bang but hasn’t lost the puzzle of measured choice of words. He last held public office 10 years ago as Deputy Prime Minister and is now back as the de facto Prime Minister of Kenya.

He’s variously been described as bureaucratic, disciplined and sober – yes, he’s like a church mouse, after dumping the bottle following his ‘Earthquake’ jamboree in January. But he’s also soberer in the sense of a clear-headed policy wonk, who knows where the levers of getting the government to work are.

Others can be erratic, but if the Ruto administration has someone deliberative, reflective and unimpressed by braggards; someone who can focus government on its agenda, then there aren’t many to choose from other than Mudavadi.

A government that is inheriting a staggering economy with millions of hungry mouths and hugging a plethora of campaign promises might be tempted to cut corners. It, therefore, needs a no-nonsense whip to keep it in line; and Kenya Kwanza couldn’t have picked a better manager than Mudavadi.

This government is likely to start off with fractured edges that need panel beating, and that is how Mudavadi’s bottled 30-year experience and knowledge of government comes in handy. He’s the steady hand that will usher in immediate stability for the administration to settle down to the business of delivering on promises.

Although he’ll not hold the Treasury job, he needs no tutorial about his pet topic of a country burdened by debt, high taxation and a moribund productive sector. His will be a second take; at a tender age of 33 years, between 1993 to 1997, he steered Kenya out of economic doldrums that parallel today’s economic morass.

This time, patched at Harambee House as superintendent of government activities and backed by the Interior and Coordination of National Government Affairs portfolios, he’ll have unfettered birds’ eye-view of government as the ulta-ego of the President.

But he also brings to government a rare value of political magnanimity of thoroughbred democratic demeanour. In 2002, he declined a nomination by Kanu after losing his Sabatia seat on account that: “The people of Sabatia have given me a sabbatical and I cannot sneak into Bunge through the window.” Twice after the elections of 2013 and 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta made to appoint him to the Cabinet. Mudavadi declined both invitations. Indeed, on both accounts, he instead proposed other persons, including his current dried-in-the-wool critic, Defence CS Eugene Wamalwa.

President Ruto couldn’t have picked on a better dependable lieutenant. Excluding a few past mentions in corruption scandals like the Goldenberg heist, from which he was cleared, Mudavadi’s famed honesty and integrity is fabled and will lend credibility to a regime bashed for all manner of corruption allegations during electioneering. If graft must be fought, then Mudavadi at the helm, supervising performance, is an inspired choice to check excesses.

Disparagers had imagined, prayed and wished he’ll emerge from these elections such a bruised loser, he’d kiss politics goodbye. Indeed, his regional detractors begun celebrating too early that he had been vanquished. And for good reason; his Amani National Congress {ANC} was whitewashed in its western bastions. They must eat humble pie.

They forgot that Mudavadi had invested in a Kenya Kwanza Alliance win at the expense of his ANC. Times were when he ignored pleas to campaign for his ANC candidates. This was compounded by a sizzling raid of Azimio of all his cohort MPs in Kakamega county. So focused was he to the overall Kenya Kwanza win, however, that even his home constituency seat of Sabatia went to UDA.

With the benefit of hindsight, Mudavadi investment target in these elections was to emerge as a national leader rather than a regional kingpin where his detractors were eager to dislodge him. He’s been in losing outfits since 2002. With a Ruto win, Mwana wa Hannah, as fondly known by supporters, did place his bet correctly. He’s regained his towering shadow over regional pretenders to the throne, such as Francis Atwoli, Wycliffe Oparanya and Eugene Wamalwa, whose careers will be stilled forever.

With his elevation to the fulcrum of government, he chairs coordination of government legislation agenda and coordinates and supervises the initiation, monitoring and evaluation of government policies and projects. The Luhya have a saying that whomever a mother abandoned, wails from the eaves, ostracised by the new stepmother. From the dais, Mudavadi relegates hitherto regional hecklers to the fate of night running.

Their destiny is further sealed by the negotiated sweet deal in KKA for the western region. While the Azimio Western legion went to the elections on the bandwidth of faith, the duo of Mudavadi and Speaker Moses Wetangula formed KKA with informed pragmatism. They got 30 per cent of all government. Mudavadi is the third-most powerful official in the Executive arm of government, while Wetangula is already Speaker of the National Assembly.

The share of 30 per cent of all government and guaranteed development for the cosmopolitan Western region was ridiculed in the campaigns but is grafted in Article 22 of the KKA Agreement. None can argue against the KKA government's commitment to revive sugar factories, tarmac 1,000km roads, and establish manufacturing, fisheries, rice-growing, agro-processing and housing projects.

Most of these projects are economic drivers for not only Western region but are major contributors to Kenya’s overall GDP. Such is the intricacy that Mudavadi’s assumed rivals in the region will burn out by 2027.

The author is private secretary and spokesman of Hon Musalia Mudavadi

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