Wetang'ula: Raila betrayed us, but I have forgiven him

Point Blank presenter Tony Gachoka and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula during an interview at Serena hotel in Nairobi. [John Muchucha/Standard]

Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula now says he has forgiven Opposition leader Raila Odinga for striking a deal with President Uhuru Kenyatta behind other leaders' backs.

The Bungoma Senator said it was “unfair and great betrayal” for the Orange Democratic Movement party leader to have engaged the President without involving the other National Super Alliance (NASA) co-principals – Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and himself.

In an exclusive interview on KTN News' Point Blank show last night, Wetang’ula said he has since forgiven Raila after the two met for candid talk over breakfast and that it would be foolish to hold grudges for too long.

Wetang’ula – who was kicked out of the Senate Minority Leader position following his bitter fallout with Raila – said he was not opposed to the handshake but the fact that it was done behind other leaders' backs.

Political fallout

When he was ousted from his Senate leadership post, Wetang’ula had warned Raila that the political fallout between them would be "noisy, messy and with casualties."

“When President Uhuru Kenyatta met with Raila Odinga and shook hands on the doorsteps of Harambee House, many of us who were with Raila were not unhappy with the fact that there was a handshake but were unhappy with the fact that our partner had put us in the dark when making the deal,” said Wetang’ula.

“It is not just myself but also my partners who were taken aback by the handshake. Not because it was bad. We as NASA had called for dialogue and we believed only an inclusive dialogue would bring a lasting solution,” he said.

He said Mudavadi, Kalonzo and him were in the forefront of pushing for dialogue between Jubilee and the Opposition after Raila pulled out of the repeat poll and proceeded to install himself as the “People’s President” which led to heightened political tension.

He further spoke of how the three leaders told Raila to his face that swearing-in himself as president was wrong.

“We met in Athi River and we told him that what he did was the right thing in the wrong way. There was a sense and feeling of betrayal and unfairness. That we cannot take away,” he said.

All these, he said, was now water under the bridge.

“I have been wronged by Raila but I have forgiven him. We have met, taken breakfast, watched Arsenal together and talked. We must appreciate people in their strengths and weaknesses,” he said.

On the push to change the Constitution, Wetang’ula said the current governance structure was narrow, restrictive and a recipe for election chaos.

He said the winner-takes-it-all system was fraught with risks, and that Ford K has submitted proposals to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) seeking to have the executive expanded.

Considered opinion

“Ford Kenya has a considered opinion that the current structure of the Executive is narrow, restrictive and a recipe for conflict,” he said.

He said the party has recommended a parliamentary system of government with a powerful prime minister and two deputies.

“We have recommended that the Executive be restructured. We want to see ministers picked from Parliament,” he said.

He appealed to Uhuru and Raila to use the current political lull to push for the reforms, saying that it was possible to amend the Constitution through a concession.

“I have had a chat with Uhuru over this matter, as the President, the responsibility to lead the reforms lies with him. This country can go through an easy concessional referendum,” he said.

“If the President and Raila in the context of the handshake decide to go that route then that would be it. I have talked to Kalonzo and he supports that route. Musalia has said the same thing, I am telling you the same. So, who is left out?," he said.

He said politicians spoiling for a fight over the referendum have failed to read the mood of the country and risked being rendered irrelevant.

He also took on the Judiciary for cozying up to the executive and its handling of corruption claims withing its ranks.

“I saw the Chief Justice cheering Uhuru and thanking him for bringing development to his Kisii (Gusii) people. The Chief Justice has no people. What happens in Kisii has nothing to do with Maraga,” he said.

Wetang’ula called for the resignation of any member of the Judiciary suspected of engaging in corruption until they are cleared.

“The Chief Justice, Deputy CJ and High Court judges must be beyond reproach like Caesars' wife. It is not about being found guilty but about public perception,” he said.

He said it was wrong for those accused of corruption to continue holding office as they are likely to interfere with investigations.

He recounted how he had to resign after allegations were made against him concerning the status of Kenya's embassy in Tokyo. Wetang’ula was then serving as the minister for Foreign Affairs in the then President Mwai Kibaki's government.

“It was alleged that I had sold the Kenyan embassy in Japan. First I didn’t know Kenya was buying an embassy, it was not the duty of a minister. Kenya in fact did not buy an embassy,” he said.

“But when things reached where they reached, even MPs were behaving like hounds that wanted to taste blood, I told (President) Kibaki I had a future, a profession and a family to protect,” he added.

He said Kibaki discouraged him against resigning since there was no evidence implicating him.

“He discouraged me from stepping aside but I told him that when they complete every bit of investigations and find me culpable, I will not be taken to court but would walk to the court,” he said.

He was later cleared over the matter and reinstated to the Cabinet.

Wetang’ula also warned Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji against prosecuting corruption cases in the Press.

He said that by sharing a lot of information before concluding investigations, the two risked compromising graft cases and the lives of witnesses at risk.

“I have had an opportunity with the DPP and told him to reduce his media presence and tweets and do his work. You cannot prosecute matters through media headlines. Let people see you in courts with watertight evidence,” he said.

Boundary row

On the Kenya-Somalia maritime boundary dispute, Wetang’ula said he midwifed an agreement on the disputed border when he served as Foreign Affairs minister.

He said a signed agreement between the two countries clearly identified the maritime boundary on the Indian Ocean and that both sides later drafted maps and deposited them with the African Union and the United Nations.

He termed Kenya's decision to expel Somali ambassador and recall its envoy to Mogadishu over the dispute as unreasonable and drastic since the two countries have a lot in common and depend on each other.