Western vote promise in UDA deal a mirage

Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang'ula

Moses Wetang'ula (left) and Musalia Mudavadi who are required to ‘bring’ 70 per cent of the western votes to William Ruto’s UDA presidential ticket.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A Kenya Kwanza Alliance deal—whereby former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi is to be Prime Cabinet Secretary and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula the National Assembly Speaker—recently hit the headlines.

In the deal, western counties of Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega and Vihiga would take 30 per cent of all government appointive positions. The share promised sounds good and convincing.

The trick lies in the conditions. Mudavadi and Wetang’ula are required to ‘bring’ 70 per cent of the western votes to William Ruto’s UDA presidential ticket.

This seems to be a tall order for the duo. In 2013, Mudavadi made his first stab at the presidency on a United Democratic Front ticket as Raila Odinga took his third shot at the top seat on an ODM ticket under the Cord coalition. While Raila managed an impressive second place with 43.7 per cent after President Uhuru Kenyatta, Mudavadi was an underwhelming third with only 3.96 per cent of the national tally.

In Mudavadi’s western backyard—Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia and Bungoma—he had only 29.7 per cent of the votes to Raila’s 62.2 per cent. In his home county, Vihiga, he got 49.2 per cent of the vote against Raila’s 46.4 per cent.

Wetang’ula got 46.1 per cent of the vote in Bungoma. Their combined effort, therefore, would wield roughly 39.5 per cent.

In 2017, when Mudavadi joined Raila, the latter bagged 82.8 per cent of western votes; hence, Mudavadi could only have brought in 20 per cent more votes to the ticket. But that is not entirely to his credit but Raila’s increased popularity owing to local pointmen, such as Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

Dynamics have changed

The dynamics have changed quite significantly. Again, some local pro-Raila heavyweights have gained more publicity because of a working devolution. Besides, Wetang’ula’s Ford-Kenya and Mudavadi’s ANC are facing a very aggressive newcomer, Wafula Wamunyinyi’s DAP-Kenya.

Equally noteworthy is the mass defections from the two parties upon joining Deputy President Ruto, which saw their influence in the region take a beating.

The onslaught from this combination of factors is not going to make things any easier for the duo; in fact, they will get even fewer votes than in past polls.

Just the other day, Dr Ruto had expressed his disdain for coalitions. His intention has been to build UDA so as to have only the party advancing his agenda. His partnering with Mudavadi and Wetang’ula is a tactical optical move. It is meant to give a region like western the impression that their interests are represented in his political movement.

The deal is a no-deal as Ruto and his inner power circle see little chance for the duo to deliver. It is as if the Ruto camp, unwilling to grant their wish, set an unreasonably high target for them. The duo should therefore stop lying to their constituents.

Bwire Mugolla, Nairobi

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