For a while now I have been shouting on social media and to those within earshot that Musalia Mudavadi deserves a shot at the presidency, each time I have been dismissed. I even attempted to draft him directly (not that he wasn’t already thinking of it himself) but while I wait for his response, I think it is fair to say Mudavadi’s chances look much better now than at any time in my opinion, the only caveat is that he must be extremely diligent. He’s certainly caught steam lately going by recent media coverage. But what are his chances and why? Whereas the odds generally favor incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, truth be told Kenyatta’s vulnerabilities at this point are much worse compared to his predecessor Mwai Kibaki in 2007 and that is what Mudavadi should exploit. All be told it is still a tall order and in all likelihood Kenyatta will be reelected but it shouldn’t be a cakewalk for him. On a purely issues based election, Kenyatta has an uphill climb if the last five years’ record is anything to go by, there’s plenty of political ammunition that can easily torpedo the president at the ballot box next August ranging from the ICC, his baggage laden deputy William Ruto, corruption, Eurobond, failed pre-election promises such as the laptops, Missteps in consolidating his coalition partner parties, teachers and so on and so forth. So here’s why yours truly thinks Mudavadi has a real shot at this thing:
Let’s start with the man himself, he’s congenial and likable, a people person. He’s the present Day Mwai Kibaki if you will. Unlike the likes Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetangula or even the president himself or the abrasive strongman William Ruto whose legendary controversy rap-sheet runs miles long as a suspect for serious crimes including corruption and murder; I can’t recall any major controversy or confrontation that involves Mudavadi. If I were to rank the six men in terms of likeability Mudavadi would closely tie with President Kenyatta who is a pleasant guy and even if one questions his record in office, he still scores very high on the “likable” category. Mudavadi is a close second and would probably surpass the President if he had similar exposure. Ruto obviously ranks dead last.
Mudavadi – Whoever – A stand-alone Mudavadi ticket is the best guarantee for a run-off. He probably won’t win outright but played well, he will peel off enough protest votes from Kenyatta and Raila to force a run off and whoever he supports afterwards if he himself is not on the second ballot, wins.
Kenyatta – Mudavadi –This is a guaranteed winning combo, no-brainer, no questions asked. It will put things back in track as originally envisioned in 2013; both men are not controversial and as stated elsewhere, amiable and so it will be a no-brainer. Any blow-out on Ruto’s side will be minimal in my estimation, I mean not impactful at all because Ruto has lost considerable ground among the Kalenjins as it is, he cannot pair with Raila, so that settles that. However, at this point a Kenyatta – Mudavadi pairing is unlikely perhaps because I suspect there’s still bad blood between Kenyatta and Mudavadi because Kenyatta reneged on a deal to let Mudavadi succeed Kibaki in 2013, Mudavadi has expressly stated that he will not work with Jubilee.
Raila – Mudavadi – Dead in the water, still born. At face value it looks like a formidable ticket, but when you look at it closely, it is actually weak because, ironically, the match up will ensure Kenyatta wins on round one. So, it is reasonable to argue that Mudavadi’s stand-alone candidacy is actually good for Raila because it gives Raila a realistic shot at the presidency.
Raila – Whoever – It is a steep climb for Raila because he’s not the same political firebrand he was before and has too many strikes against him as it is, he has hemorrhaged critical support among his once closest allies and continues to- folks like Caroli Omondi, Ababu Namwamba, Miguna Miguna, and many others simply deprive Raila of public confidence. However, if it is any consolation, the Kenyatta-Ruto duo is itself so weak that in fairness Raila still has a shot at this thing.
Kenyatta – Ruto – Other than the advantages of incumbency, clearly there are major challenges with this ticket. On the surface it looks like the duo has consolidated their political base and perhaps expanded it, but don’t be fooled. On closer look, it appears that this is Jubilee’s option B that takes the place of its development record or lack thereof but it is a very expensive proposition; the public believes that the money that would otherwise be spent on development projects has instead been converted to consolidate power and buy votes and that is a big problem because whoever prosecutes this case effectively will be halfway at Statehouse and Ruto is considered the architect. Two, the once power-house Ruto is now a drag on Kenyatta on way too many counts as you will see below, things have changed from the pre-ICC 2013 to the post ICC 2017 – Ruto has made serious missteps as you will see below.
Jubilee’s follies that Mudavadi should prosecute in the campaigns:
Mudavadi and the opposition in general have plenty to skewer President Kenyatta on this coming election and these are just some of the issues they can score significant political mileage on:
The Ruto Situation – If I were Mudavadi or the opposition for that matter, this is low hanging fruit to latch on like a cow-tick and aggressively highlight because Deputy President William Ruto is the face of impunity and impediment to progress in Kenya, it is not hyperbole or just perception but reality with plenty of this dubious distinction as the most corrupt in Africa, now even surpassing Nigeria according to the recent World bank report published just in the last couple of days ago, http://citizentv.info/2016/08/18/world-bank-ranks-kenya-as-the-most-corrupt-country-in-africa/ , it is NOT a coincidence folks. And to the extent that Kenyatta keeps him on the ticket, he’s effectively condoning Ruto’s actions which are not only a detriment to the country but also a severe indictment of the president himself. William Ruto cannot account for the source of his massive wealth given that his career has been as a government employee nor can his cronies who run Kenya’s Treasury and together have plundered public resources beyond redemption.
Ruto seems to have a bottomless pocket as he has been endlessly dishing Millions of shillings at fundraisers like candy whose source he can’t explain given his known salary and yet the government, even as it takes Billions upon Billions of shillings in revenue and new debt, remains broke with very little to show for what it rakes in; he has been linked to multiple serious corruption scandals and even been found guilty on at least one where he dispossessed a Post-Election Violence victim of his land and fought hard in court to retain it but lost, tens of others are still percolating beneath the surface and would one day be brought forward once he’s no longer an impediment to justice. Elsewhere in the world, he would have been forced to resign and faced prosecution, any leader he worked under would have dropped him like a hot potato, but not Kenyatta, ooh no. Besides his indictment at the ICC as the key architect of the 2007/2008 PEV. Truth be told Ruto’s utility as Deputy President is way past its’ shelf life, he is a political liability instead. The ICC fiasco that artificially brought these two together is over. Even as Ruto clings to relevance and counting on Kalenjins to back him and Kikuyus in Rift Valley still live in mortal fear of Ruto and desperately stay clear of antagonizing him, only President Kenyatta can neutralize the situation and restore confidence to everyone by removing this impediment, the best time to do so is now while he’s still in charge and able to manage the attendant fallout.
Historically, Vice Presidents in Kenya are never permanent fixtures and are easily dispensed of. I cannot think of a more suitable candidate for dismissal than William Ruto. He is a sociopath, a pathological liar who lies as easily as he breathes and gets away with it.. , he has also been accused directly and indirectly of murder – the most recent being businessman Jacob Juma. Cyrus Jirongo gave publicly gave an eye witness account of William Ruto killing a man, even with all these, the Kenyan police have never investigated Ruto – not once. I mean I don’t know how worse it has to get for justice to reach Ruto. His arrogance and pomposity is well documented and has groomed protégés such as lawyer Donald Kipkorir who mimic him but perhaps that’s the least of his worries.; he antagonizes the president against his own friends, for example it is an open secret that Nancy Gitau was antagonized by William Ruto for so long that she just resigned, Ruto antagonizes the Moi family against the Kenyatta, I mean the list is long and I can go on and on, the point I am making is that Ruto gives the President a very bad rap and its inexplicable to me why he keeps him around even when it is clear Ruto no longer enjoys the same political clout he once did, even in his turf of Rift Valley. Besides, Ruto is campaigning for President for 2022 and not necessarily for Kenyatta’s reelection, I mean isn’t it obvious?
Pre-occupied with the ICC and long-term consequences – The duo were too distracted and too preoccupied with the ICC in their first three years in office that they wasted precious time and state resources defending themselves at the ICC at the expense of development. They delegated too much responsibilities to their surrogates and cronies who took advantage to loot state coffers and drove the national deficits and debt to unsustainable levels and between the looting and ICC, the rest of us were left holding the bag and debts out of the wazoo.
Education & Beef with Teachers (KNUT & KUPPET)
To say Jubilee has mismanaged the education sector would be an understatement. The solid foundation that Kibaki laid has all but disappeared. Between the falling education standards, Ruto grabbing school land, exam cheating, school burnings, missing laptops for first graders, you get the point- it is hard to belabor the obvious. But politically, Jubilee would be severely punished by teachers for the manner in which it treated teachers in 2015 that forced them to go on strike. In case you missed it, Jubilee promised to honor a long fought 50-60% collective bargain pay increase but then reneged by manipulating state apparatus i.e. the meddlesome interlopers at the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to unfairly intervene and rescind the agreement. Teachers went on strike but were then blackmailed to return to work but damage was already done resulting in the worst exam cheating in history. Jubilee further tried to weaken the teachers unions by starving them of much needed operating cash by refusing to deduct and remit member contributions to the Unions, I mean the government played teachers really dirty. I just have a sense that teachers are disgruntled and are a very unhappy lot in that country and it clearly shows; so if this were up to me as a teacher, Jubilee ain’t getting no love from me this election cycle, HELL NO! Mudavadi can reap the spoils.
Bungled Political Party Consolidations – As it stands now, the president’s gamble of consolidating political parties may actually work but if it fails, the one term proposal is very likely. I think the just concluded Jubilee Party political party consolidation was poorly done and will eventually have a blow-back with no escape valve because disgruntled elements that folded their own parties to join Jubilee and lost the clout and/or party positions they once held will be an unhappy lot and will revolt. This is Jubilee’s soft underbelly that is a perfect poaching ground for supporters.
Misguided Political job appointments & Ethnic Patronage – Rather than merit appointments Jubilee handpicked its point men from various tribes who it believes will deliver votes from their respective tribes for appointments to government jobs. In most instances, these appointees are sponsored by prominent personalities who hold or held senior positions at one point or another, in a nutshell the Jubilee government has perpetuated the aristocratic form of government where power is concentrated among oligarchs. In Kisii for example, almost ALL of Jubilee’s appointments to government positions went to members of the Nyachae family and those sponsored or recommended by Nyachae. The rest of the Kisii community didn’t take that very well and the blow-back has been simmering but it is now out in the open, Kisiis have openly revolted against Jubilee because of a) to protest William Ruto and b) the Nyachae job appointments. Replicate this nationally and the President has real problems.
Tribal Dominance & Negative Ethnicity – Jubilee, by design has advanced policies that advance dominance of the country’s governance by Kikuyus and Kalenjins. Even though there are sprinkles of other ethnicities in public appointments, truth is disproportionate number of high ranking positions where real decisions are made that affect the country’s governance are held, overwhelmingly that is, by Kikuyus and Kalenjins and so there is a sense of resentment against the administration for this. Jubilee has promoted and exacerbated negative ethnicity and it was not supposed to be that way.
Economy, deficits, Corruption & Eurobond – The economy should be doing better than it is. The fact that the government has missed its revenue collection targets since Jubilee came to power and it’s operating on an average of 40% deficit year in year out simply means Jubilee underperformed, simple as that. Unemployment is UP not down. The Eurobond issue is still potent and Mudavadi should exploit it – Jubilee has failed to account for the Eurobond proceeds and its instructive to note that while the government cannot explain what it did with the money, William Ruto on the other hand has been living large in obscene opulence that can’t be explained or justified by his salary or business holdings; he has been campaigning for his 2022 presidential bid by hosting numerous pilgrims of thousands of delegates from around the country that cost Billions of shillings, defending himself at the ICC cost Billions of shillings, the Millions of shillings he has been donating at monthly fundraisers – my point being it is reasonable for anyone to draw a logical conclusion that these funds are looted from taxpayers to benefit and advance William Ruto’s interest and it is just unfair.
Outstanding unmet Campaign Promises
This is a political mine-field just ripening as we approach the campaign season. As I said above, Kenyatta is more vulnerable now than Kibaki was at this time 10 years ago – a savvy and disciplined candidate/campaigner can easily torpedo the president’s reelection just on this alone, Mudavadi can take the president to task. Kibaki’s reign was felt strongly and positively across the nation, he had achieved a lot in turning the economy around and instituting free primary school, education, CDF and quite a few other developments in his tenure and yet Raila Odinga was still able to turn tables against him in 2007. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said under Kenyatta, in fact almost all the campaign promises Jubilee made, other than sporadic cosmetic window dressing, remain largely just that, and I am almost certain Mudavadi will be keen to pick on these promises and challenge the president.
The 72 page pre-election harmonized Jubilee Coalition Manifesto for 2013-2017, Jubilee promised among many others:
- National Cohesion-Eliminating ethnic divisions – Kenyans seem more divided than ever before
- Security: Keeping Kenya safe and secure – Do Kenyans really feel safe or are they secure? The answer is NO. Extra-Judicial killings by the state or state agents are on the rise. The rule of law seems suspended.
- Arts, Sports & Culture: Celebrating the best in the world – Jubilee promised to “Build five new national sports stadia in Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Garissa, while upgrading existing sporting facilities at the County level to accommodate swimming, tennis, basketball and rugby.” Where are they? And the list is looooooong on this arena.
- Healthcare: Towards a healthier Kenya – Achieve free primary healthcare for all Kenyans, starting with women, expectant and breast-feeding mothers and persons with disabilities by increasing health financing from 6% -15%. Where is this?
Guarantee that every family has access to a fully equipped health centre within 5 miles of their home, with a national network of local community health workers promoting preventive health based at the centers. Where are they?
- Education: Raising standards – There is no question our education standards have steadily declined in recent years but this is what Jubilee promised in its manifesto.
- Work with international partners to provide solar powered “lap-top computers” equipped with relevant content for every school age child in Kenya. Where are the laptops?
- “Provide free milk” for every primary school going child which will be sourced from County-based dairy farmer Saccos. UH! Where is the milk?
- Youth Empowerment: Realizing the Potential – Jubilee promised the following, “Establish Institutes of Technology in every ward to empower youth with effective and relevant skills to service a modern economy. The acquisition of basic vocational skills will be offered free of charge at these institutions.” Where are these Techs?
- Growth & Development: Building an Enterprise Economy – Jubilee promised to “Target a 7-10 per cent growth rate in the first two years of the Jubilee Government in order to create 1 million new jobs for our youth.” Where are the jobs?
- Reduce the public deficit so that the Government spends more money on services instead of paying off Kenya’s debts
And the list is long…. By any objective measure, none of these promises have been kept, great campaign fodder for any would be opponent such as Mudavadi to seize on. All else being equal, Mudavadi would give Kenyatta a run for his money just by running an issue based campaign and focusing on Jubilee’s own record vis a vis its manifesto.