Moses Wetang‘ula: I was approached to ditch Raila Odinga and join Jubilee

Bungoma Senator and CORD co-principal Moses Wetang’ula during the interview. [PHOTO: BENJAMIN SAKWA/STANDARD]


Q: There is talk that Jubilee, with the help of the Uganda government is goading you and CORD leader Raila Odinga to join the government; you as Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary and Raila as Uhuru’s running mate in 2017 as relations seem to sour between the president and his deputy.

A: That is stranger than fiction. I am in CORD for the long haul and as a leader, you don’t look for quick fixes. You must be focused, determined, be ready to face tribulations. I have built a career and I am sure Kenyans see me differently from how they did 10 years ago. I want to maintain that growth in terms of experience and output that will be beneficial not only to me but to the people I lead, the party and the coalition. We in CORD believe we are the government in waiting. We also believe our trust will hold together to the end. We also believe we have no automatic presidential candidate. We are going to subject ourselves to internal competition. Whether through negotiation, compromise or through a vote, we will find a way of arriving at a candidate that is fair and democratic. The long and short is that I am going nowhere.

Q: There is talk that soon after the last election the Uganda government through President Yoweri Museveni and Foreign minister Sam Kuteesa tried to persuade you to leave CORD and join Jubilee coalition where you had been promised to head the Foreign ministry, but you declined. What was your reason?

A: He (Kuteesa) did approach me (in Kampala), but I declined. I don’t know whether the intended communication was confidential. I don’t know whether I will be breaching that confidentiality, because the conversation was not supposed to be discussed outside our meeting.

Q: The cat is already out of the bag. We are privy to what transpired. We are only confirming the claims that you are under pressure to quit CORD.

A: My brother Kuteesa who is a long time friend, approached me on behalf of his friends in Jubilee, requesting me to recognise their victory. I declined because it would have been the highest degree of betrayal to my colleagues in the coalition to do so after coming out of an election where there was no clear winner. We still believe Uhuru did not win. We also believe no candidate got 50 per cent-plus-one votes. The fairest and most logical decision would have been a re-run or runoff. I thank my friend for reaching out to me. But I told him, politely and firmly that I was not going to join the Jubilee government.

Q: It is said the meetings have not ceased. You have even met Museveni a number of times and discussed the same issue. Could you shed light on the details of your conversation with Museveni?

A: Hiyo wacha bwana, Hiyo wacha (Don’t go there, don’t...laughs)

Q: Kwa nini (Why)?

A: Hiyo wacha. Leave it at that.

Q: Given the kind of inducements that came your way, would you say you have sacrificed a lot to enable CORD hold together? What do you expect for it?

A: Yes, and I believe if our coalition sticks together and with the mess that Jubilee finds itself in as demonstrated by runaway greed, corruption, tribalism, you name it... I think we have no doubt proclaiming ourselves a government-in-waiting.

Q: One of the reasons given for Museveni’s interest in you and Raila is that he dreads Kenyan political leadership shifting to the west of the country. It is said he fears that Luhya or Luo presidency would in turn influence the political course in his country where he is accused of trying to transfer power to his son, Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Luos and Luhyas have strong presence in Uganda.

A: If he is scared of the presidency shifting to west of the country, I am not privy to it. But certainly he has shown openly unqualified support to jubilee. To us we think that is poisoned cup and we are quite okay with it. We also believe that as a neighbour he has made a few offensive things against Kenyans.

Q: He has not just tried to poke his nose into Kenya internal affairs. His relations with Uganda neighbouring states are sour. Would this be the reason why he would want a friendly government in Kenya?

A: He has fiddled in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania. I can confirm that he is not in good relations with Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete. This cosmetic and opportunist relationship he is enjoying with Kenya today is informed by his pretentious position on ICC. This is hypocrisy because he referred Lord’s Resistance Army rebel leader Joseph Kony and his assistant Dominic Ong’wen to ICC. Even when he announced in Nairobi he was going to sponsor a motion at the African Union for African countries to pull out of ICC in favour of an African court as an alternative to ICC, Uganda did not support it. Our brothers (Uhuru and Ruto) here should see that our relationship is fair-weather – no more. They are marionettes dancing to Museveni’s tune!

Q: Would that be reason Museveni is keen to prop the government in Kenya that does not pose serious threat to his in a region that is hostile to Kampala?

A: Secondly, these are weak and vulnerable leaders Kenya is having since impendence. A person who has been around for that long (Museveni) would want to play Big Brother to weakling neighbours. Compared with Kikwete, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, South Sudan’s Salva Kiir and DRC’s Joseph Kabila, Uhuru and Ruto are political novices and their mastery of geopolitics is severely limited. That is why Museveni can manipulate them with ease.