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Mudavadi leads Amani strategy talks

By Standard Digital - January 1st 1970
UDF leader Musalia Mudavadi and the party brigade are keen on rebranding their coalition after a dismal show in last year’s General Election.  [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

By Stephen Makabila

Kenya: Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi leads the coalition’s leaders to a reflective retreat from this Thursday in what is seen as an attempt to chart out his political future.

Mr Mudavadi said the retreat would look at various reports by technical teams on a possible rebranding and restructuring of the coalition.

The Standard on Sunday has equally learnt that the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) is sponsoring the three-day retreat in Naivasha, which runs from March 13 to 16.

“Yes, the institute is sponsoring the retreat for Amani coalition members in Naivasha to review how we faired in the last General Election and outline our future political plans and engagements,” New Ford-Kenya (NFK) Secretary General Canon Benjamin Mwema said.

The South-African based EISA, with field offices in Kenya, Chad, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, strives for excellence in the promotion of credible elections, citizen participation, and the strengthening of political institutions towards democracy in Africa.

Amani brings together Mudavadi’s United Democratic Forum (UDF), Kanu under the chairmanship of Baringo County Senator Gideon Moi and NFK under the leadership of former Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa.

Each of the three political parties, however, separately signed post-election agreements with the ruling Jubilee coalition shortly after the March 4, 2013 General Election, making them government allies.

In Parliament, Amani coalition has 24 MPs, with UDF having the highest number at 12, while Kanu and NFK have six each.

Coalition flag bearer

Mudavadi said the March 4 presidential race where he flew the Amani coalition flag was a rehearsal for battles to come and that he was rebranding Amani Coalition into a powerful political force.

“I have said before that mine was a rehearsal for battles to come. We are in the process of re-branding Amani coalition into a veritable movement. You will be hearing and seeing a lot of Amani activities this year.  We want to have seamless elections soon,” he added.

On whether the former DPM should be concentrating on developing his own UDF party or the wider Amani coalition, he said: “At the last retreat in December, it was proposed that activities towards UDF elections by October begin in February this year.  Part of the objective of the retreat is to have clarity on this matter. UDF elections will of course be in the context of the need to rebrand Amani. Should we be shepherding UDF or Amani? That is what we will be seeking consensus on.”

Mudavadi’s Private Secretary Kibisu Kabatesi, who said preparations were on course for the retreat, pointed out that finer details would emerge in the coming days on Amani’s political plans.

Mwema said MPs, Senators, Governors, members of the National Executive Committees (NECs) of the constituent parties and Majority leader/whips and Minority leaders/whips of the coalition in all the counties will attend the retreat.

Inter-party relations

Under its Political Parties Support Programme, EISA aims to strengthen key democracy institutions in Africa, by building the functional capacity of political parties and fostering good inter-party relations.

Experts with rich political experience have been invited to share with participants at the Amani retreat on how to revitalise the coalition and position it as a competitive political vehicle ahead of the 2017 General Election.

Among those invited is renowned Kenyan political scientist Prof Amukowa Anangwe, who served as a minister in the Kanu government and as a former lead political strategist for opposition party ODM.

“I have been invited to make presentations as a resource person at the EISA sponsored retreat,” Anangwe, who lectures at the University of Dodoma in Tanzania, said.

The Amani meeting comes at a time some if the coalition members feel they have not benefitted much from their association with the Jubilee government, after Mudavadi and Wamalwa were left out of Cabinet appointments by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto. 

Article 3 (iii) of the Amani coalition agreement states that should a chance for Cabinet appointment arise and be accorded to the Amani coalition, the supporting principal should secure the position, in this case Wamalwa,” said Mwema.

A section of leaders from Mudavadi and Wamalwa’s stronghold of Western have, however, been urging President Kenyatta to consider Mudavadi for a Cabinet appointment, given his seniority and experience.

Mudavadi has personally noted he had at no time expressed interest in securing a Cabinet appointment, and that his focus was to consolidate UDF and Amani, with eyes trained on the presidency in 2017.

Bungoma mini-poll

But the coalition had a setback when it was beaten hands down by CORD in the Bungoma Senatorial by-election last December, where Senate Minority Leader and Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula retained his seat.

Mudavadi and Wetang’ula who doubles as a CORD co-principal, are now seen as the top two political heavyweights in the former Western province which is Luhya dominated. In the last election, however, CORD won more votes in the region, reducing Mudavadi to a political underdog in his own backyard.

Meanwhile, none of the Amani coalition political parties qualified for public funding from the Registrar of Political Parties (RPP)’s office after failing to meet the requirements by the Political Parties Act.

Their fate now lies with a planned push by all affected parties under the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy to seek an amendment to the PPA in Parliament.

RPP Lucy Ndungu has already urged MPs to amend the law to allow smaller parties access to funds from the exchequer.

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