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Former Vice President Musalia Mudavadi addressing a gathering during his book launch at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, on December 17, 2019. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi has opened up on talk of his being the 2022 “compromise candidate” while also castigating his rivals for the obsession with political positions.

In what was viewed as a veiled attack on his NASA colleague Raila Odinga, the prime mover of Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), Mudavadi told Citizen TV on Friday night that his competitors in the 2022 race had abandoned popular struggles and are now pursuing personal goals.

He also went for the jugular of President Uhuru Kenyatta, saying the window of opportunity for him to get things right was limited to the year 2020. Accordingly, he must make hard and bold decisions.

Addressing the issues

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“If at all I am being talked about a little more, it is because I believe I am the one addressing the issues that affect the common man more than anyone else, most of the others are dwelling on power structure arrangements,” he said.

On BBI’s audit, Mudavadi said the 2010 Constitution by and large covered most of the issues BBI raised. He said the issue has always been the question of commitment to the Constitution and mutilating it may not help.

“Eventually, even if we were to have an executive that was slightly altered, let it come because Kenyans believe it is what is good for them, but not because some people have sat somewhere, and said we want to negotiate a structure,” he said and posed back to the journalist:

“What does your gut feeling tell you? Does it tell you that these changes are there because Kenyans really want them or some people are pushing for certain changes because it will solve short-term conditions in the political arena?

He said his assessment was that the country needed to build a broader goodwill besides the two movers of BBI and to dialogue appropriately, so that the changes are what Kenyans feel are necessary.

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“Let us not fall into the trap of always mutilating our constitution,” he said.

He said although NASA was not dead, it needed to confront its own realities in 2020:

“Hopefully 2020 is going to be a year of looking at reconciliation and broader consensus building, hopefully some of the issues affecting NASA can be dealt with in the coming year.”

According to Mudavadi, the remaining two years of Uhuru’s presidency – minus the final one – are “reasonable time” enough to change the trajectory of the country.

He said the government needed to refocus on growing the economy for all, restructure the loans and push harder against graft. He was worried Kenya had retreated back to the 90s when he was a young finance minister.

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“One of the biggest problems I was dealing with when I was at the Treasury is debt, and it’s like we have gone full circle, to a situation where we have a lot of debt issues in our country…We had the need for reforms, we are back there, we had a crisis of the institutions that were conducting elections then, and now are back to a similar situation,” he said.

In his projection, the pressure of the country’s huge debts, commercial borrowing at the expense of concessional, mismatch between spending and returns and massive corruption will soon come down hard on Kenyans.

“Going into 2022, the government must come up with a very clear blueprint on how they will reschedule and restructure these loans. Even the CBK governor has told them that, start preparing in advance, he knows a crisis is coming.”

“Like in January, there are some huge installments on SGR that must be paid, and that is only one aspect, there are others, like issues of Eurobond. We are not out of the woods yet, and we won’t be for a very long time.”

He believes President Kenyatta’s best shot at securing his legacy is 2020 and he must move fast before he loses the attention of critical stakeholders of his legacy.

“History has shown that in many jurisdictions globally, it can become difficult for an outgoing president to get the kind of attention that his directions should get when it is believed his term or tenure is coming to an end,” he said.

Very confused year

Mudavadi called for quick harmonisation of relations between the Executive and Judiciary, fair but fast conclusion of corruption cases pending in court and electoral body fixed.

He described 2019 as a “very confused” year politically and where many important things were sidestepped. He said these issues, coupled with succession politics, will brew more confusion as 2022 advances closer.

“The electoral body remains the elephant in the room, because the whole conflict we are facing, whether it now connects to the handshake or BBI phase one or even now phase two, emanates from what is perceived as a bungled election,” he said.

In his recent book, which Raila has roundly dismissed, Mudavadi challenged the ODM leader to give his version of events, saying there was nothing personal in what he wrote.

“You have to speak about some of these things when some of the players are still there and give them an opportunity to respond and give their version of events.”

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Amani National Congress Musalia Mudavadi Raila Odinga BBI Uhuru Kenyatta
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