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Mudavadi under pressure to join Raila, but trust issues won’t fade

POLITICS
By Biketi Kikechi | October 25th 2021

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi addresses journalists after an event recently. His allies say he is under pressure to join ODM leader Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi is under pressure from the Jubilee government deep State to support ODM’s Raila Odinga’s 2022 presidential bid. 

Sources within the ANC party told The Standard that although nothing concrete had been agreed, many meetings had been held and it appeared the government had trained its guns on Mudavadi in the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) team.

Until two weeks ago, Mudavadi was the most visible OKA leader on the campaign trail. Deputy President William Ruto (UDA) and Raila continued blazing the trail this week at the Coast and the larger Meru, respectively, as the ANC leader took a break.

The ANC Vice-Chairperson Ayub Savula told The Standard it was true that some powerful individuals in government were exerting pressure on his boss to support Raila, but insisted that such a thing would not happen.

“That script is being fronted by some powerful individuals and government bureaucrats who are pushing Mudavadi and some of our members to support Raila, but we want to assure our supporters that his name will be on the ballot paper next year,” said Mr Savula.

Similar sentiments were made by Vihiga County Woman Rep Beatrice Adagala, who said it did not make sense for the ANC leader to keep supporting one candidate every election period when he has the potential of leading the country.

The consistent line of argument being used in the pursuit of Mudavadi is that they all have one common enemy in Ruto and that they, therefore, need to mount a joint onslaught against him.

It appears Ruto is also fully aware of the ongoing developments, going by the statement he made before concluding his campaigns in Kilifi and Lamu counties this week.

“I hear they are planning to gang up against me, and that all of them, including a former Vice President, are involved in that scheme. But if they bring Bwana Kitendawili, I will beat him early in the morning,” Ruto said sarcastically. 

Other ANC leaders dismissed claims that Mudavadi would back Raila. They said the party held a National Executive Committee (NEC) strategy meeting at the MM Centre last week and agreed on a grand campaign plan to be unveiled next week.

The planned programme will see the party start its campaign by covering all parts of the Western region, where Mudavadi is expected to hold a big rally for the campaign launch to build the base of his support as he moves to other parts of the country.

“The mapping of the campaign has been developed by the secretariat, but the launch will be in Western and then we will cover other parts of the country extensively because ANC will have candidates across the country,” said an official at the secretariat.

ODM leader Raila Odinga with OKA principal Musalia Mudavadi at OKOA Kenya offices, Nairobi, 2017. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The NEC meeting that also authorized the exit of ODM from Nasa opened up the political space in the country, making it more complex as all parties now engage in a mad scramble for coalition arrangements before March next year.

Political scientist Amukowa Anangwe says the ANC leader could have slowed down his campaign activities after the OKA principals agreed that they move together. He also dismissed the possibility of Mudavadi and Kalonzo working with Raila, unless something extraordinary happens.

“The only thing they have in common is the disdain for Ruto. But apart from that, Mudavadi and Kalonzo’s body language and actions do not show any signs of accommodating Raila,” said Prof Anangwe.

The Africa Policy Institute president Peter Kagwanja is convinced that Mudavadi will join Raila in the contest against Ruto next year.

He, however, knows Mudavadi will be the most difficult to convince because the ANC leader thinks he can convince the Mt Kenya region and some politicians in the area to back his race for President.

“He will be the most difficult because he fought and got a few votes from there in 2013, but his OKA allies will definitely be in the Raila camp,” says Prof Kagwanja.

He also concurs with Anangwe that the OKA grouping will fall flat on its belly if Ruto is removed from the political equation.

The University of Nairobi lecturer argues that OKA is united by the Ruto factor because none of them, including Raila and President Uhuru Kenyatta, likes the Deputy President.

“It is not about the former Nasa allies or jubilee. It is about some elites who have experience with the DP and believe very strongly that he should not rule,” says Kagwanja.

Asked why they fear Ruto, Kagwanja argues that it could be out of common fear of the kind of unforgiveness and the sense of threat that they expect from a Ruto presidency.

DP William Ruto with ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi during Bishop Titus Khamala's homecoming ceremony, Lurambi, Kakamega County. August 2018. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Mudavadi had earlier dismissed chances of him working with Raila in 2022 because of the mistrust that exists between him and the former Prime Minister.

The ANC leader told The Standard the mistrust between the ODM leader and his former National Super Alliance (NASA) allies was too wide and could be difficult to bridge.

Among the issues that remained unresolved at the time was the remittance of money ODM received from the Political Parties Fund.

This week, ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna told TV viewers that all parties, except Ford-Kenya, had been paid their money.

But when pushed on the possibility of working with Raila in future, Mudavadi replied: “Anything is possible; but I wonder how the existing mistrust deficit that is just too wide will be bridged.”

The race is now on for all major political players to come up with new coalitions because they know that they cannot win without partnerships.

Raila and Mudavadi, together with Kalonzo (Wiper Democratic Movement) and Moses Wetang’ula of Ford-Kenya, were in the NASA coalition in 2017. It was wound up a few months ago. After quitting NASA, ODM leaders said it was good riddance and expressed confidence after the party National Executive Committee met and Raila to engage each of his former partners individually.

“I do not know who Raila is going to approach individually, as his party says, but there is a major sigh of relief among us because it has opened the window for us to freely engage with other Kenyans,” said Mudavadi.

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