The myth that UDA is not about political positions but empowering ‘Mama Mboga' was blown into smithereens last weekend. What a sight it was to behold as Mt Kenya Tangatangas were reduced to an ugly catfight on who would become William Ruto's running mate!
When their peers from Luhyaland were negotiating for solid portfolios, the Tangatangas were in their own trance, shouting "Hatupangwingwi!" Yet they were being played mercilessly like marionettes. Musalia Mudavadi inked his deal for the "prime Cabinet secretary" thing, which basically would render the deputy presidency guaranteed for the running mate worthless. He was also assured of the Interior ministry slot. His colleague Moses Wetang'ula wangled for himself the assurance of the speakership of the National Assembly. Our Tangatangas were lost in their daze as deals were being cut above their heads.
Lately, when Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi struck an alliance with UDA and its Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA), he negotiated for the speakership of the Senate. His Machakos counterpart Alfred Mutua was promised a substantive ministry. Note: Loud Mt Kenya politicians like Moses Kuria and William Kabogo who had earlier got into coalition with UDA were never granted such sweetheart deals. Zero. Yet they somehow imagine they are "on par" with other parties of the KKA formation.
Ruto's running-mate Rigathi Gachagua is a perennial face all over vernacular TV stations uttering banalities such as "selling Raila Odinga to Mt Kenya is like selling pork to Muslims". His incessant message is that UDA is not about positions. Ha, what has changed now? The startling discovery from a leaked KKA coalition agreement copy that Mt Kenya came out empty-handed in the negotiations has jolted the region's Tangatangas back to reality. A formerly sleepy Mt Kenya UDA following has started asking belated questions. Ruto has, of course, been rattled by that. I couldn't believe my ears when he uttered the words "one-man-one-shilling" during a Kasarani campaign rally on May 13. His promise to implement the resource allocation formula, which he has actively fought against, was hypocrisy at its worst. On the day he named his running mate, he quite shamelessly declared that the one-man-one-shilling proposal was the "Hustler nation's" idea. My foot! Obviously he thinks such declarations will deflect the pressure for a more defined power-sharing structure in his outfit for Mt Kenya in KKA.
The argument Gachagua makes as he does his endless rounds of TV talk shows is that all Mt Kenya needs is a government that will prioritise the region's economic issues, especially the coffee, tea and dairy sectors. Once incomes improve, Mt Kenya people won't require anything else. His fellow Mountain Tangatangas parrot this line enthusiastically. With all due respect, this is misguided and even daft. How do you guarantee your development proposals are implemented if you don't seek positions where policy decisions are made, right up to Cabinet level? Who will ensure roads are built and maintained and employment-generating projects are set up if you're not represented in relevant ministries? I am sure Ruto can't believe his incredible luck for having roped in Tangatanga characters who are so gullible.
Mudavadi's ANC and Wetang'ula's Ford-Kenya negotiated for a 30 per cent share of positions in a Ruto government, inclusive of Cabinet, parastatal and other high appointments. By law, the Cabinet should have a maximum of 22 appointees. So ANC and Ford-Kenya should expect a minimum of seven Cabinet seats. That is actually in the KKA agreement.
True, there is a catch. ANC and Ford-Kenya are expected to deliver a minimum of 70 per cent of the vote in their Western region strongholds in order to get the promised 30 per cent share. They'll find that a tall order to achieve. That notwithstanding, the two parties were accorded the consideration of being invited to the negotiating table by Ruto. The deal worked out is binding and was duly deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties. The Mt Kenya Tangatangas claim to have negotiated equally ironclad agreements with Ruto. But where are they? And what are they exactly about? Nobody knows. One is left to conclude these were informal promises that Ruto is not legally bound to honour. No wonder Mt Kenya has become the laughing stock of the nation.
The question now is: how would the remaining 70 per cent of government be shared out? What specifically is Mt Kenya's share? What about the other 41 Kenyan communities? By Kabogo's own telling, there's absolutely no mention of Mt Kenya region or its interests anywhere in the KKA document. Shockingly, it was drafted by none other than Prof Kithure Kindiki, a Mountain native who was competing with Gachagua for the UDA running mate position. Either he's a very weak fellow, or he had taken leave of his senses that day.
Ruto overruled the majority of Mt Kenya UDA MPs who preferred Kindiki over Gachagua as running mate. That was ominous for a group that hopes to have some influence over the aspiring President. Just as surprising was the non-resistance of the MPs when their preference, Kindiki, was shoved aside. I doubt this manner of forced regimentation augurs well in our political culture where open disputation must be tolerated. Gachagua was anyway a logical choice for Ruto. He's rich and strong in mobilisation. Kindiki is the opposite. In another alarming signal that should not escape our notice, Gachagua's multiple corruption cases that involve billions of shillings did not affect his elevation in UDA by an iota. Mmmm. He and Ruto have much in common. They were mentored by Daniel arap Moi and still adhere to his money-fuelled kind of politics. And behind the ordinary facade they paint of their university days, year-mates tell of a different, sinister side.