’Former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi left ODM after he was technically locked out of the presidential race through a party constitution clause that gave the party leader a direct nomination to be a presidential candidate. He then founded United Democratic Front (UDF) which formed the Amani Coalition with other parties on whose ticket he ran for presidency in the last General Election and finished third behind Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. Our writer Protus Onyango spoke to him on issues of governance, his political plans and rating of Jubilee Government performance ten months down the line
Question: What is your comment on devolution so far?
nswer: We are in the early stages of devolution as most counties are establishing their structures and recruiting their staff. But the public has given them latitude and it is time the county governments aligned their policies for service delivery and development. The county governments should be pragmatic and realistic as they seek to improve their own revenue base by not over-taxing the public. They can also seek to be given more funds from the national kitty because the 15 per cent is just basic, not the ceiling.
Q: How would you rate the performance of the Jubilee Government?
A: They have been doing a lot of firefighting with very limited focus on what their agenda for the people is. They should keep their promises by ensuring that devolution works efficiently and the economy favours the common mwananchi. Current surveys show that the cost of living is beyond most Kenyans.
We must continue to work as a nation by harnessing all the talent we have rather than discriminating. Jubilee should do more homework when carrying out future public appointments. Let the appointments reflect character of the nation, region, gender and blend experience with youth. Let relevant bodies investigate the standard gauge railway tender and in case of impropriety, action must be taken to protect the Kenyan taxpayer.
Q: But you have a working relationship with Jubilee?
A: Yes, we have a post-election agreement to work together on matters of national importance. However, we disagree with Jubilee on issues that we are not happy with. For example, we are not with them on the new media laws and the implementation of the 16 per cent VAT law that is hurting wananchi. We also raised our objection on the efforts to withdraw Kenya from the Rome Statute.
Q: Comment on the performance of UDF in the last General Election.
A: UDF has 12 MPs, three senators, one governor and 88 MCAs. Our Amani affiliate parties like New Ford Kenya has six MPs while Kanu has one elected senator and one nominated Senator. One of our MPs – Ben Washiali is the Deputy whip and we have instructed our MPs to be active in tabling motions and pertinent issues that are beneficial to the party and the public
Q: Some ODM members have been calling you to return to the party. Is it an offer you might consider?.
A: Ours are different political entities competing politically. I am the leader of Amani while Raila Odinga leads Cord. ODM is electing office bearers in February and when our time comes, we will do so. Competition and divergent political views are necessary for democracy to thrive but this does not mean personal enmity.
Q: What lessons have you learnt after the elections?
A: Vying for presidency is an on-going process. During nominations, parties should strive to have credible delegates and allow free and fair nominations. Bungled party nominations make people feel shortchanged.Candidates for various political seats should also be prepared to deal with propaganda effectively.
Q: Some people say that you do not have a strong Luhya backing. Is it true?
A: That is for the people to judge but I want to tell the Luhya community that unity is extremely important. Let them take their rightful position in society seriously by registering and voting in large numbers.
Q: Will you run for presidency again?
A: Yes, I am in the race in 2017 and if I make it well and good. If not, I will keep giving it a stab. After all, most of those who contest the presidency in Kenya have not won it at the first instance.