Go solo or play second fiddle? Mudavadi, Kalonzo headache
Dennis Lumiti and Mutuku Mwangangi
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Wiper Party counterpart Kalonzo Musyoka are in a dilemma with their supporters insisting they must run for nothing lower than the presidency in next year’s General Election.
With 13 months to the election, the two are confronted with the tough options of accepting to play second fiddle to either ODM leader Raila Odinga or Deputy President William Ruto and then negotiating a post-election coalitions or mounting a solo presidential campaign.
The two are part of the Nasa alliance, which brings together ODM, Wiper party, Ford Kenya and ANC, which backed Raila for the Presidency in 2017.
Matters are complicated by the planned coalition between Raila’s ODM and a faction of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party.
“There is a feeling that the President is endorsing, or has endorsed, Raila to be his successor and you can imagine the consequences,” said former Cabinet minister Amukowa Anangwe, a political scientist.
“Raila cannot be trusted. His political record speaks for itself. Mudavadi cannot fall for another betrayal that would see him settle for a political seat that is lesser than the Presidency,” he added.
The former vice presidents have unsuccessfully contested for the Presidency in the past. Kalonzo ran in 2007 while Mudavadi was a candidate in the 2013 election.
In 2007, Kalonzo ran on an ODM-Kenya ticket and emerged third after President Mwai Kibaki and Raila.
Kibaki, however, appointed him vice president after the country broke into violence because of the dispute on who had won the election.
After a botched alliance with Uhuru and Ruto, Mudavadi ran for the presidency in 2013 and emerged third with 483,981 votes.
Mudavadi backed Uhuru’s unsuccessful bid in the 2002 election and supported Raila in the 2007 and 2017 polls.
Kalonzo was Raila’s running mate in the 2013 and 2017 presidential contests.
The onset of devolution has seen the emergence of other influential leaders in Kalonzo and Mudavadi’s backyards, with governors Charity Ngilu, Alfred Mutua and Kivutha Kibwana coming up in Ukambani while Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has emerged in Western Kenya.
The latter now serve as checkmates or alternatives to the two in future coalitions.
In his race for State House, Mudavadi is faced with a delicate task of assuaging expectations of his supporters particularly in his Luhya home-turf.
He also faces the Herculean task of shedding off the “indecisive” tag he earned in 2002 when he declined to join the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) and backed Uhuru, who was the then outgoing President Daniel arap Moi’s choice for successor.
Mudavadi lost his Sabatia parliamentary seat and was in the political cold for five years until he bounced back in 2007 as Raila’s running mate and later one of the deputy prime ministers in the Grand Coalition Government.
Some of the ANC leader’s supporters believe Mudavadi is now strong enough to win the presidency without anyone’s endorsement.
“Mudavadi is no longer a political greenhorn. I see him clinching the Presidency in 2022,” said businessman Fred Ikana, an ANC insider.
Khwisero MP Christopher Aseka said he was confident Mudavadi would succeed Uhuru. “I can tell you that a lot is taking place behind the scenes.
A lot is working in his favour. But we are not sleeping,” the MP said without elaborating.
Kalonzo has resisted calls to support Raila in the next year’s election.
“It is unthinkable that I, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, would support Raila Odinga for the third time.
I would be the most stupid fellow on earth to support for the third time a presidential candidate without a measure of reciprocity,” he said recently.
Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo said the party was going for nothing short of the Presidency.
“We are focusing on the Presidency and recently the party leader was in Murang’a and we are going to tour every part of the country to woo voters,” said Maanzo.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said the party expects Kalonzo to seek an alternative route to the Presidency.
“Kalonzo will vie as president in another coalition is the alternative we have. Period,” said the Wiper vice-chairman.
According to Chama Cha Uzalendo party leader Phillippe Sadja, Kalonzo should run for the Presidency and enter into coalitions after the election.
“If he means business, he should run and finish the race to gain respect and make a post-coalition agreement with like-minded people after the election,” Sadja said.
Kitui Governor Ngilu has rallied Ukambani people to register as voters in large numbers, saying the number of votes a candidate presents on the bargaining table determines their fate.
“We must ensure we have at least 2.5 million votes in his (Kalonzo) basket so that he is able to bargain with others at the national table,” said Ngilu, who has cautioned Kalonzo against a lone-ranger presidential campaign.
Mavoko MP Patrick Makau said the Wiper Party was no longer interested in working with Raila, saying they were keen to reach out to other players, including Ruto.
Makau urged Raila to “behave like a statesman” and endorse any of his Nasa principals.