By Elam Lumwaji
That Prime Minister Raila Odinga could have won the discredited 2007 presidential elections is clear in the minds of many Kenyans, myself included. The argument by South African judge Johann Kriegler that it was impossible to tell the winner was a public relations gimmick meant to cool down tempers and have the country running again. As an elder from Western Province, who was at the centre of unity forays to forge a Western Kenya voting bloc (Nyanza, Western and Rift Valley Provinces), I can state without wincing that the machine was formidable and it worked, hence Raila’s win.
The PM also carried Coast Province and a huge chunk of North Eastern and Nairobi provinces. Only Eastern and Central voted stingily against Raila. The despair that followed pushed Kenyans to the brink of a civil war; a situation saved only by timely intervention by the international community through mediator Kofi Annan and his team of eminent African personalities.
But all that is now in the past. Those who did not allow Raila to assume power for their own reasons never relented even as the country re-invented its course by way of an all-inclusive government of national unity. Below the surface, they cranked a plot to ensure Raila does not realise his ambition to lead this country. Concerted efforts were put in place to dilute his political strength in areas perceived to be his strongholds.
Part of that political emasculation plot was having him as the face behind the rehabilitation of the Mau Forest to earn him disfavour with the Kalenjin community. It worked perfectly; with his former ally William Ruto taking full advantage of the conspiracy to paint him as an enemy of the community for purely selfish reasons. So consistent and determined has been the onslaught on Raila that his core support has been left confused as to whether he is the right leader for this country.
To stop Raila’s kicks, all manner of political alliances have been floated even as they keep sinking to the despair of those behind them. The G7 and its predecessor, the KKK (Kikuyu, Kamba, Kalenjin) are some of the alliances formed to stop Raila from a sojourn at State House.
Elders from various communities have also been sucked into this anti Raila scheme, causing more confusion amongst the voters. Because Raila’s detractors have sworn to stop him by hook or by crook, it is high time Kenyans rallied behind a leader who cuts a neutral image in Kenya’s tribally polarised political landscape and Musalia Mudavadi strikes me as that leader.
Unlike Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka who is generally viewed as a traitor and a hypocrite from the unfortunate events of 2007 that elevated him to his current stature, Mudavadi is the only other politician in the Presidential race who has deputised the president.
Mudavadi has a gentlemanly mien, has no combative or abrasive manners and could therefore be acceptable across board. The much hyped claim about ‘project’ by Mudavadi’s detractors is nothing but malice by those who see him easily gain confidence of those who matter in the complex succession game because he does not appear a threat to their interests. Mudavadi should take his campaigns to all corners of the country; he should also avoid being seen as a project of State House power brokers working hard to stop Raila.
To religious leaders, I say, guide your flock to spiritual and patriotic nourishment by giving partisan politics and tribalism a wide berth.
At 29, Mudavadi was appointed Minister for Finance. One does not forget the fact that donors had stopped financing Kenya citing grand corruption. The young man took the bull by the horns and stopped Goldenberg. He did not stop there but went on to convince the International community that with him at the Treasury, it was not going to be the same. He proved to donors their money would not only be safe but would also be put to the purpose for which it was intended. Donors soon after resumed foreign aid to the country. This is the leadership we want.
The writer is an Organising Secretary of the Western Province Council of Elders and a Nairobi businessman