Musalia Mudavadi: Ruto's blue-eyed boy takes his place as top diplomat

Having served under Presidents Daniel arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and now Ruto, the Prime Cabinet Secretary brings a wealth of knowledge to the Kenya Kwanza administration.

After his elevation, Mudavadi thanked President Ruto for expanding his role as the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs.

"I am fully aware of the significance of my dual role, and as always, embrace the responsibilities with a profound sense of duty and dedication. I am grateful for the confidence and trust H.E. has shown in my ability and pledge to carry out my duties with unwavering commitment, integrity, and diligence," he said.

He promised to ensure the interests of Kenyans, within its borders and abroad, are well-represented and protected.

"I am a champion of "Whole-of-Government" and expect all officers in the coordination and external affairs roles to collaborate and closely work together for the interest of the country and its people," said Mudavadi.

As the Kenya Kwanza government enters the second year, he has emerged as the blue-eyed boy of President Ruto, periodically entrusted with representing him at functions locally and abroad.

On Wednesday, Mudavadi was in Kampala, Uganda, to represent the President in the Head of State's engagements and on Friday, he was in Kigali, Rwanda, for the East African regional meeting.

The third in command in the Executive pecking order will also attend the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 74th session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioners Programme in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mudavadi has represented Ruto at seven international events in the United Kingdom twice, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Angola, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. In September, he represented the President during the inauguration of Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa as he assumed his second term.

In May, he also represented President Ruto during the inauguration of Nigeria President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Abuja.

Mudavadi led the Kenyan delegation to Bujumbura, Burundi, for a meeting of signatory countries of the framework agreement for peace, security and cooperation for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region, bringing together Heads of State from the Great Lakes region.

A few months after he was sworn in, Ruto sent Mudavadi to represent him at the Commonwealth Trade and Investment Summit in London.

Sources told The Standard that the President regards the Prime Cabinet Secretary highly and is, therefore, much at ease sending him to key international events.

"It is about the confidence the President has in him, he feels comfortable having to be represented by Mudavadi. The two have a cordial working relationship, a respectful one," said a source in State House who sought anonymity.

Former Mandera Senator Hassan Osman, who worked closely with Kibaki and Mudavadi, noted that the former President actually wanted the Prime Cabinet Secretary to succeed him.

"Kibaki believed that Mudavadi was a gentleman who was trusted, loyal, bright and humble and could lead the country when he left," said Osman who was UDF chairman.

Prime CS Musalia Mudavadi addresses mourners during the funeral service for the late Philip Kimunya Githua, former Nyeri County African National Congress Chairman, at Ragati in Mathira, April 4, 2023. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

He said that the formation of UDF was meant to prepare room for Mudavadi to take over from Kibaki.

"The late Kibaki believed that Mudavadi could take the country forward from where he had left," said Osman.

In the run-up to the 2013 General Election, Uhuru, uncertain of his candidature owing to the ICC case, signed a document with Mudavadi pledging to support him in the presidential election.

Under pressure from his then TNA party, Kenyatta would renege on the document, blaming 'madimoni -the devil' for his decision.

During the sunset months of his presidency, Uhuru appeared to have been fronting Mudavadi, which saw the One Kenya Alliance formed. Still, the plans to unite the opposition to face off with Ruto in the August 2022 General Election collapsed.

Soon, Mudavadi fell for Ruto's charm and crossed over to Kenya Kwanza Alliance, where they took over power, and he was appointed Prime Cabinet Secretary.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua appears to also support his boss in having Mudavadi represent the government at international events.

Recently, Gachagua said that he had asked the Head of State to allow him to handle the internal matters.

"I have heard people saying that Mudavadi is doing my job. That he is the one going to Nigeria while I have been handed the ordinary jobs of fighting alcohol and drug abuse," he told faithfuls during a church service in June.

The DP said he prefers attending engagements about resource mobilisation. "If I go to see a new President being sworn in, what do I bring back? I do not need it," Gachagua said.

Political analyst Javas Bigambo, said that Mudavadi has cultivated the aura of a trustworthy, dependable politician, technically having characteristics that are not the pedigree of a Kenyan politician.

Bigambo noted that Mudavadi is not divisive, does not dabble in volatile ethnic politics and always seems ready to be guided.

"And because of that, he has not come out as a man with raw ambitions so it is easy, then, to have him side by side. He portrays a picture that he is not thirsty for power," he said.