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Mudavadi ticket could send Uhuru’s Jubilee packing

By Makau Mutua | Published Sun, December 18th 2016 at 00:00, Updated December 17th 2016 at 23:45 GMT +3

There was a time when Amani’s Musalia Mudavadi was ODM Raila Odinga’s automatic road kill. The son of Mudavadi — the Luhya bull — was regular slaughter in Agwambo’s butchery. No more — the man with the most gentlemanly mien in Kenyan politics could be the chosen one in 2017. That’s not to say the son of Jaramogi can’t — or won’t — be the one to send Jomo’s son packing. Mr Odinga still remains the most formidable opposition colossus. But Kamwana and Jubilee may have his number. One gets the sense that Jubilee is salivating to have Mr Kenyatta go mano-a-mano with Mr Odinga. My gut tells me they know something we don’t. That’s why Mr Mudavadi may be the one.

Any student of Kenyan history — even ‘C’ students — know that Mr Odinga was robbed in 2007. There is a dispute as to whether he was again taken to the cleaners in 2013. But that’s only because both the election, the IEBC, and the Supreme Court’s petition were so shambolic that we can’t tell who won that election. My view is that no one did. That’s why a re-do was the only apropos thing to do. But alas, the Supreme Court shut the door on that possibility. The country — minus this scribe — accepted and moved on. My point is that the other side of the political divide knows how to deal with Mr Odinga — just the way they dealt with Jaramogi.

I am not writing this column with an ulterior motive to push Mr Odinga off the stage. No — that’s reserved for the electorate in ODM, CORD, or the so-called Super Alliance, if such a thing has any legs. After all, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, himself no chicken feed, is ogling State House. Even the scheming Moses Wetang’ula of Ford-Kenya is walking behind. But the real chess match is between Mr Musyoka and Mr Odinga. This is where Mr Mudavadi comes in. Mr Musyoka and Mr Odinga may checkmate each other. This opens the door for them to settle on Mr Mudavadi for prezy. Mr Odinga’s gets PM and Mr Musyoka VP.

But then you have to mollify Weta to stop him from returning to Jubilee, his natural home. That’s why you offer him deputy prime minister, a post that overcompensates him for his abilities, though not ambition. In this galaxy, Governor Isaac Ruto of Bomet and Governor Ali Hassan Joho of Mombasa also get DPM positions. The once-powerful Charity Ngilu could be a spoiler. That’s why she gets a powerful ministry. Given Kenya’s primitive politics, it would be suicidal for the Super Alliance to ditch the Kisii who may be happy that CJ David Maraga ascended under Jubilee. So, you tend the Kisii garden by roping in a big Kisii name for the third DPM. This is a winning formula.

This is how the Super Alliance comes closest to replicating the Narc coalition of 2002. But for this to happen the three key actors in the opposition — Mr Odinga, Mr Musyoka, and Mr Mudavadi — must decide whether they hate Jubilee more than they dislike each other. Put succinctly, are Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka ready to check in their egos and ambitions at the door so that they enter the Super Alliance? If not, they might as well vote for Mr Kenyatta and Jubilee for another five-year term. I hear Mr Musyoka may pursue a quixotic run if he isn’t the CORD flagbearer. Mr Odinga’s lieutenants have sworn it’s going to nobody else, if not him.

Mr Odinga, who has been coy on whether he wants to be king or king-maker, is the key. He’s the biggest domino, and if he falls, all the others fall in line. He has the most to lose because he has sacrificed the most, and has the largest following. But he’s easily demonised and demagogued by Jubilee. His case may be one of Greek tragedy proportions. Mr Musyoka is approaching those epic proportions too, but he’s not been in purgatory long enough. In this matrix, Mr Wetang’ula shouldn’t even be in the conversation. If ego and ambition don’t get in the way, then the opposition could reap big. Even Governor Peter Munya may bring in a chunk of the Meru.

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Why Mr Mudavadi, you keep asking. Simple. He’s viewed as benign. He’s neither polarising or perceived as corrupt or conniving. He’s very likable and will likely surround himself with good advisers. In terms of realpolitik, he has the potential to be a unifying national figure. He would bring in virtually the entire Luhya vote. His election would bind national wounds by “rotating” the presidency to another community. But can the opposition see this far — and prevail on each other to back him?

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