BBI CAKE

Political bigwigs likely to benefit from BBI jobs

With the new arrangement being brought by BBI, the presidential candidates will now be forced to cobble up power-sharing lineups

In Summary
  • The five presidential aspirants will be dangling the BBI positions to win support from various regions.
  • Established politicians viewed as likely beneficiaries for the seats.
Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the Bomas Of Kenya on October 26, 2020.
Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the Bomas Of Kenya on October 26, 2020.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

The five big powerful seats proposed in the Building Bridges Initiative have thrown the political class back to the drawing table as new political formations emerge.

The main political bigwigs  — Deputy President William Ruto, ODM chief Raila Odinga, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper — are likely to be the main beneficiaries of the crucial government positions.

Apart from Raila, the remaining leaders have expressed interest in succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta and thus will be open for alliance and or coalition building with other politicians to form a formidable force for 2022.

Observers, however, believe the race might narrow between Ruto and Raila — if he decides to run —, with Kalonzo and Mudavadi being eyed for either of the top seats.

However, Mudavadi and Kalonzo have maintained they will not play second fiddle to anyone.

Wiper party executive director Jared Siso reiterated this to the Star, saying Kalonzo will not be a running mate to either Raila or Ruto.

“Kalonzo Musyoka is very clear and vocal on matters related to 2022. I think 2022 is for him (Kalonzo) to seek the ultimate power to implement his policies. He is not going to be running mate to Raila or Ruto, who is his junior politically,” Siso said.

Were he to play second fiddle, it would be his third time, having been Raila's running mate in 2013 and 2017, losing both elections.

Mudavadi, on the other hand, is laying ground to be on the ballot in 2022.

In an exclusive interview with the Star, Mudavadi last Thursday revealed that his discussions with key political figures have centred on possible future cooperation with leaders of other parties.

"We have not been going deep into conversations about coalitions because it is a bit early but we have been talking about emerging issues in the political arena and the unfolding scenarios,” he said.

With the new arrangement being proposed by the BBI report, the presidential aspirants will now be forced to cobble up power-sharing lineups that will not only ensure they win elections but also ensure inclusivity.

Kilifi North MP Owen Baya is, however, cautioning against recycling the normal old faces and instead calls for a paradigm shift to inject new thinking to the country’s governance structure.

The new thinking, he noted , is only possible if whoever emerged the winner of the presidential race moved away from the bigwigs and instead brings new faces with fresh energy.

“Whoever becomes the President should think of reconstituting the country. It has been that Kenya belongs to few individuals, people who seem to be having a political clout before. We can continue to live in the past which is failure,” Owen told the Star.

“We are not generating new ideas; we are stuck with old people with old thinking.”

Baya insisted that new people with records of integrity to steer the country’s development agenda should be given a chance in the new expanded Executive.

“Raila, Kalonzo and Mudavadi have been there. The greatness of democracy is that we get new people every time who bring new energy. I would want the new president to cast that away.”

“We need to look at the quality, integrity of the person somebody like Kamala Harris (Joe Biden’s running mate in the US polls) is a new excitement in the US elections," he added.

Political angling is expected in the coming months with the top five leaders burning the midnight oil not to be left out in the expanded Executive.

Already, a number of governors serving their second terms are secretly identifying constituencies in their counties where will contest to increase their chances of being considered for the plum positions.

Some of the positions proposed in the BBI include President, Prime Minister, and his two deputies, leader of Opposition and Vice President.

Deputy President will remain the President’s principal assistant, while the Prime Minister will run government business in the House.

Apart from the Opposition leader, the remaining five powerful positions will be appointees of the winner of the presidential contest, seats which will be dished to his or her inner circle.

Raila has surrounded himself with a number of leaders from various regions, faces viewed as likely members of his power matrix if he declares interest in the top seat.

From Central Kenya, the ODM leader has former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth who is billed as a possible pick for the deputy president or prime minister position.

The former Gatanga MP has been instrumental in pushing Raila's presidency, recently leading a delegation of over 500 Kikuyu leaders to Raila's Bondo home.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru is another Raila ally from the vote-rich Mt Kenya and who observers argue will land a plum position in the ODM leader's government if she decides not to defend her seat and ventures into national politics.

The AU special Infrastructure envoy also has regional kingpins who include Wycliffe Oparanya (Western), Hassan Joho (Coast) and James Ongwae (Kisii).

RUTO CAMP

DP Ruto, on the hand, will be carefully analysing his team players — some of whom he poached from Raila, Mudavadi and Kalonzo inner sanctum —  to cobble a winning team that he will bank on to propel his bid to State House.

Observers, however, argue that Ruto, just like Raila, will be looking at President Uhuru Kenyatta's Central Kenya backyard for his principal assistant.

In Central, Ruto has a number of political allies who have weathered the storm to stand by him no matter what many view as persecution from his boss.

Former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri, touted as DP’s possible number two, lost his ministerial job over his relationship with Ruto.

Before his sacking, Kiunjuri was Ruto’s most ardent foot soldier in Mt Kenya region.

On Thursday, DP’s close ally Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East) said Ruto should consider a deputy from the region to ensure regional balance.

The former Chief Whip said the positions should consider inclusivity to make all Kenyans feel part of government.

“If a presidential candidate is someone from the Coast, he should pick from Western region and my imagination is that Ruto should pick from the other side of Nairobi. I could be right but that is something for interpretation,” he told Star.

“And the criteria should consider someone who can deliver, it should not just be politics. What capacity person has to enhance service delivery should also be a factor.”