Three things have happened around Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi over the last two months. He has walked out of Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s shadow, a man he deputised in Cabinet and Orange Democratic Movement, and he is now battling his way to State House.
Secondly, his name has featured as a possible ‘project’ of President Kibaki’s State House, alongside that of Eldoret North MP William Ruto. President Kibaki on Tuesday denounced the ‘project’ claim by Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo.
Thirdly, Mudavadi’s candidature has in one way or another, affected the campaigns for State House by six other presidential contenders: Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa, Raila, Ruto, and Jirongo.
Certainly, the image of Mudavadi either as a moderate in the political arena, and for Uhuru and Ruto, a possible ‘compromise’ candidate to back should The Hague make it hard for them to run, is different from the laid-back Musalia of the pre-May 2012 period who seemed forever loyal and subservient to Raila.
Today, just about two months after he left the Orange Democratic Movement, and having resigned as Local Government minister while choosing to cling to DPM’s office, Mudavadi is not only being considered a serious contender, but the other aspirants are grappling with the consequences of his entry, amid claims he is a Kibaki ‘project’.
All major players in the race, including President Kibaki whose succession is the bone of contention, are embroiled in the controversy generated by Mudavadi’s entry into the race on a United Democratic Forum (UDF) ticket. UDF has been a subject of speculation over alleged connection to the incumbent holders of State power, with reports that among its founders are operatives in President Kibaki’s State House.
On Tuesday, State House in an uncharacteristic harsh rebuttal, told off Jirongo over allegations that the State had sponsored some political parties and presidential aspirants as ‘projects’ to influence the election of the fourth president.
The rebuttal, crafted in a language unusual for State House, underlined the ripples Mudavadi’s ambition is causing. Long considered a lightweight, Mudavadi’s candidature appears to affect other presidential hopefuls: They either want to court him, crush, or use him.
Apart from Raila, whom all the others are keen on stopping, the Sabatia MP could easily have won the distinction that he is either to be wooed or stopped.
The departure of Mudavadi is a blow to the ODM Party Leader’s campaign for president, particularly because Raila appeared to hold the ground in Western.
The circumstances of Mudavadi’s acrimonious exit from ODM –protesting at alleged schemes by Raila’s allies to deny him a fair shot at party presidential nominations – do not help the PM’s cause either.