POLITICAL PACT

Is Musalia Mudavadi plotting alliance with DP Ruto?

His political moves and frequent attacks on Raila have sparked speculation.

In Summary

• ANC leader’s political moves and his incessant attacks on Raila have triggered speculation that he may join Ruto.

• Mudavadi fiercely criticises the ODM leader in his memoirs, calling him untrustworthy, unpredictable, deceitful and a political betrayer.

DP William Ruto and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi during the homecoming of Lurambi MP Bishop Titus Khamala at Mwangaza Secondary School, Kakamega county, on August 18, 2018.
DP William Ruto and ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi during the homecoming of Lurambi MP Bishop Titus Khamala at Mwangaza Secondary School, Kakamega county, on August 18, 2018.
Image: DPPS

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi’s political moves and incessant attacks on ODM leader Raila Odinga have triggered speculation he could be plotting to team up with Deputy President William Ruto.

Mudavadi has heightened his political activities — crisscrossing the country and assailing  Raila —  to distance himself from the ODM leader and the Nasa coalition — and to rebrand himself as his own man.

Political observers say that Mudavadi is struggling to remove the ‘Raila-man’ label and ring-fence his Western vote bloc in readiness for a mega political pact.

 
 

“For years, Mudavadi has been seen as a Raila man. It was Raila who removed him from political rags and that has stuck in the minds of most voters in Western,” governance expert Javas Bigambo said.

The former Deputy Prime Minister has hinted he will form a new alliance with other like-minded individuals as Nasa appears to be dead, only alive on paper.

Ruto has occasionally urged Mudavadi to team up with him, but he was rebuffed by the ANC leader. That could change; Ruto needs all he allies he can get.

Kimilili MP Didmus Baraza, a close Ruto ally, said on Wednesday, “Most of us from Western who are allied to DP Ruto have no problem accommodating Mudavadi. We don’t feel threatened that he will take our positions. We want him to come because we have only one enemy and a common goal. Our enemy is Raila Odinga who has taken our community for a ride for many years."

I am for the decision that we unite for development and form government. We have those with expertise for development and others with expertise to form the opposition
Ruto during Sabatia visit in September

Mudavadi said in Vighiga last month, “Nasa may face turbulent times but I believe that the people-based ideals for which I formed it will find expression in another formidable force where there is political hygiene."

Mudavadi personally led Raila's presidential campaigns in the last two elections, but his trashing of Raila leaves little doubt the two former allies will go their separate ways in 2022.

In his New Year's message to Kenyans, the former Finance minister indirectly attacked Raila, accusing him of using the BBI and his handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta to advance his personal interests.

 
 

“We are even witnessing awkward situations in which leaders are talking not just about which new positions should be created in the Executive, but also who should get what kind of salary in a restructured Executive,” Mudavadi said.

Raila and his lieutenants in ODM have been calling for a powerful prime minister with enhanced perks, though the final watered-down BBI report calls for a weak prime minister. Raila wants that changed.

Late last month, Mudavadi castigated some leaders for abandoning popular struggles for personal interests, an apparent reference to Raila.

“I believe I am the one addressing the issues that affect the common man more than anyone else. Most of the others are dwelling on power structure arrangements,” Mudavadi said.

He fiercely criticises the ODM leader in his autobiography Soaring Above: The Storms of Passion.

During campaigns for the by-election in Kibra and after the November 7 polls, Mudavadi accused Raila and his ODM brigade of orchestrating violence to intimidate rivals.

The former vice president has also criticised the March 9, 2018, handshake between Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta. Mudavadi, the other Nasa members, and DP Ruto were excluded from the handshake planning.

“All political leaders now are seeking to control their areas for purposes of creating formations. Mudavadi is trying to consolidate his backyard. He is trying to recreate himself,” political observer Brian Weke said.

Governance expert Bigambo said Mudavadi’s frequent attacks on Raila are a clear sign the former Sabatia MP was preparing for a life without Raila.

Ruto occasionally has implored Mudavadi to dump Raila and team up with him ahead of the polls.

“I am for the decision that we unite for development and form government. We have those with expertise for development and others with expertise to form the opposition,” Ruto told Mudavadi when he visited his Sabatia backyard in September.

Raila also mentioned to us that he had received letters of cancellation of his visas by various foreign missions to Kenya. He showed us one of such letter he had received from a leading Western mission
Mudavadi's memoir

But Mudavadi dismissed the overtures at that time. “Ruto’s proposition is cheeky and ridiculous and cannot sell. No serious Kenyan can buy into that gimmick,” he said.

Mudavadi and Ruto are currently on the same side regarding skepticism about the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative.

The handshake has pushed former ODM 'Pentagon' members to the political periphery. They feel sidelined and betrayed after Uhuru and Raila entered into a 'secret pact' behind their backs.

Politics has been complicated by reports Raila and Uhuru have reached a compromise to back Interior CS Fred Matiang'i for President in 2022. This has not been confirmed. 

Ruto, who had been hoping for Uhuru’s unconditional endorsement for the country’s top seat, has blamed the handshake for developments — and Matiang'i's elevation — that threaten to scuttle his ambitions.

Despite his criticism of Raila, Mudavadi has been clinging to slim hopes to get Raila’s backing for the presidency, his close ally, Lugari MP Ayub Savula, has said.

“The best alliance is convincing Raila to remain a statesman and since Uhuru is retiring, he can throw his support behind Musalia,” he said.

In his book, Mudavadi criticised the Uhuru-Raila truce, claiming that it was forced on the two leaders by Western nations that threatened to impose a travel ban on Raila.

“Raila also mentioned to us that he had received letters of cancellation of his visas by various foreign missions to Kenya. He showed us one of such letter he had received from a leading Western mission,” he writes.

Ruto and his Tangatanga allies have also denounced the handshake, terming it a plot to dash the DP's presidential ambitions.

ANC secretary general Barack Muluka neither confirmed nor denied that Mudavadi could be aiming for an alliance with Ruto. It certainly would be welcomed by the DP who wants Western votes.

“We still don’t know who we will work with in 2022. Mudavadi left Raila in 2013, in 2017, he looked for him and he agreed that they would work together. On whether we will work with DP Ruto, sincerely speaking, we don’t know who we will work within 2022,” he said.

Savula, a second-term legislator, however, ruled out any possibility of Mudavadi working with the DP.

 “We have no room for the DP. The ways things stand now, the DP cannot work with Musalia because the Constitution bars Ruto for running as DP again. He can only be number one. And we don’t want Musalia to be number two to anybody,” he said.