Musalia Mudavadi

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

| Evans Habil I Nation Media Group

Musalia Mudavadi: The 2008 deal Ruto and I negotiated for Raila and why things are different now

What you need to know:

  • In an exclusive interview with Daily Nation senior reporter JUSTUS OCHIENG, Mr Mudavadi explained Kenya Kwanza’s key milestones, promising that the government is focused to stabilise the economy and will do all it takes to serve the people.
  • Mr Mudavadi defended the president’s commitment to implement his manifesto - The Plan, even as he noted that refinements can be made in government at the discretion of the president, to enhance proper and effective functioning of his Government.
  • Mr Mudavadi explains why the current crisis is nowhere near 2007 post-election violence and also opened up on the 2007/08 deal he and president Ruto negotiated for Mr Odinga leading to his naming as the Prime Minister.

  • On governance, Mr Mudavadi explains the import of performance contracting in the civil service, that aims to achieve; “results-driven, efficient, and transparent public service.”

President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza administration turns one year today, (September 13), amid growing hard economic times, even as Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, the man in charge of co-ordination and supervision of Government Ministries and State Departments outlines its key achievements one year on.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Nation senior reporter JUSTUS OCHIENG, Mr Mudavadi explained Kenya Kwanza’s key milestones, promising that the government is focused to stabilise the economy and will do all it takes to serve the people.

Mr Mudavadi defended the president’s commitment to implement his manifesto - The Plan, even as he noted that refinements can be made in government at the discretion of the president, to enhance proper and effective functioning of his Government.

In his interview, Mr Mudavadi discussed the never-ending debt question explaining why the government had to make painful decisions to manage the country’s debt situation.

President William Ruto with the Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetang'ula and Musalia Mudavadi (right) during the Post-Election Seminar for the 13th Parliament in this photo taken on January 30, January 2023.

He also delved on the ongoing dialogue between Kenya Kwanza and opposition; Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition, denying reports that the international community has a hand in the talks that were brokered by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo following his meeting with president Ruto and the ODM leader.

Mr Mudavadi explains why the current crisis is nowhere near 2007 post-election violence and also opened up on the 2007/08 deal he and president Ruto negotiated for Mr Odinga leading to his naming as the Prime Minister.

On governance, Mr Mudavadi explains the import of performance contracting in the civil service, that aims to achieve; “results-driven, efficient, and transparent public service.”

Q: You are now one year in office, what achievements have you made as Kenya Kwanza government?

A: We have made great strides so far through our Bottom Up Economic Transformation Agenda.

1.  On enterprise, for instance, we put in place Financial Inclusion Fund better known as the Hustler Fund - which is now on its second phase, the first phase having lent out some Sh 30 billion. The fund is easily accessible as it does not require complex bureaucratic procedures to access.

The second phase launched by His Excellency the president in June is aimed at facilitating people access funding through groups.

President William Ruto (centre), Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (left) and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musali Mudavadi at State House, Nairobi on July 12, 2023. 

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

2.  On Agriculture; we have launched the second phase of the subsidised fertiliser programme, noting that the country’s poor economic performance is primarily due to underperformance of agriculture, hence the need to boost production. We have since reduced the prices of the commodity from Sh 3,500 to Sh 2,500 per 50 kg bag in our efforts to address the cost of living. There is now a significant growth in terms of the land that has been committed to food production an additional 200,000 acres have been added into food production. Our target is to make sure the deficit we inherited of about 36 million bags of grains from the other harvest, we can come back to our normal production levels of 48 million bags of maize.

3.  On Education, the government has employed 35,000 teachers in a historic and unprecedented drive to improve the national teacher - pupil ratio and enhance performance. There has never been such a huge intake of teachers and it’s a very significant step. We have also redesigned the competence-based education curriculum to make it responsive to our education needs and launched the National Open University which has since obtained its charter commissioned courses.

4.  On Health, the government is reforming the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to meet the urgent needs of Kenyans at the bottom of the socioeconomic structure by actualising its purpose as a social medical insurance facility. We have also committed to deliver universal health coverage that enables every Kenyan attain dignified healthcare at the minimal cost of a subscription fee. We have also collaborated with county governments to recruit community health promoters (CHP) throughout the country to make promoters available for households.

5. Housing: Our vision for the Affordable Housing Programme is premised firstly on the economic objective of creating a million direct and indirect employment opportunities throughout every value chain in the housing development ecosystem. It is also aimed at increasing the number of homeowners and transition more Kenyans from rent-paying to homeownership.

Human dignity is another important aspect of this programme. This entails the liberation of millions of people who live in unhygienic environments without proper sanitation.

6. In terms of governance; we have met our commitment of making sure that police service is given financial autonomy to boost its operations and efficiently serve the people of Kenya.

Musalia Mudavadi

President William Ruto with DP Rigathi Gachagua, Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir and Chief Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi during a meeting with governors in Naivasha on February 11, 2023

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

7. The President has also kept his promise of ensuring that the six judges who had been frustrated by the previous regime are appointed to help address the shortfall in the judiciary. The judiciary also got a shot in the arm in the 2023/24 financial year with an extra allocation of Sh 5 billion in fulfilment of the president’s promise to increase its budget by Sh 3 billion annually.

Mr Mudavadi acknowledges that the country is in an “extremely challenging position,” since it inherited a “dilapidated economy,” which is taking time to put right in the national interest.

Q: How has the government spent its first year in office?

The first six months were spent settling down and putting our Administration in place, putting the right talent and leaders in the right place and orientating our team. We have also infused the “one government” approach to serving the people. The silos of the past are slowly being torn down in favour of a more inclusive and holistic approach to service delivery. One example is the Government Legislative Agenda (GLA) which has recently been undertaken to consolidate and prioritize all Government legislation. This is an exercise that has never been done before and as a result, in the past, there was a lot of inefficiency, replication and wasted resources when it came to developing legislative instruments. The Kenya Kwanza Government is all about efficiency and effectiveness in the service of the citizens. Nonetheless, we have settled in, we know what challenges we face and have implemented appropriate policies and steps to ensure that within the next two years, when we have this conversation, we will be talking about the tremendous successes of the Kenya Kwanza Administration.

Ruto Cabinet

President William Ruto with his Cabinet Secretaries during a Cabinet meeting at Sagana State Lodge, Nyeri County.

Photo credit: PCS

Q: Are you satisfied with the government’s progress thus far?

A: Yes. A firm yes. We have made the most of the circumstances that we are in.

Q: There are several promises you made in The Plan, some were to be achieved within 100 days but are yet to be done one year down the line, what do you have to say on this?

A: Promises are made based on the information available at the time. We have kept the majority of our campaign pledges and are working towards honouring the remaining ones. Remember, we live in a fluid society and, in the national interest, we can always refine and improve on promises that we make.

Q. Treasury says there’s limited headroom for debt, how is the government addressing this to remain afloat?

A: We had to make painful decisions in order to manage our debt. The previous regime borrowed to stay afloat. Instead of spending on development, they used those funds to pay salaries, subsidies and kick the can down the road to after the 2022 elections, knowing that they would not be there to deal with the consequences. This administration made the decision that we would not borrow to pay salaries, that we would own up to our national obligations and that we would ensure that the sins of the past would not haunt our future. Accordingly, we are looking for resources everywhere we can and avoiding to borrow as much as we can. No doubt that because of this, there is some pain that we are taking at the moment, but it is not in vain. We have had no choice but to widen the tax base and look for additional tax revenues. We are going after tax cheats and ensuring that residents pay taxes that are due. It was either this or borrow.

Musalia Ruto

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, President William Ruto, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja Ruto arrive at Korogocho, Nairobi County on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 to unveil the Nairobi River commission.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Goup

Q: You promised to increase civil servant’s salaries but have instead introduced huge taxes that is hurting the public, what are you doing to address the situation?

A: Our nation is going through a major transition. We are transiting to a system of governance and honesty that requires a bit of short-term pain for long-term gain. We know that net take-home from certain civil servants will be reduced but, it is the only way that we can share the burden of supporting our society and our economy. The SRC recently provided our civil servants with an increase in their base salaries which will offer some relief. I must emphasize that the deductions are not in vain, we are providing improved healthcare for the most vulnerable members of our society, allowing citizens to become homeowners across all counties and facilitating a dignified retirement by ensuring that the NSSF is sufficiently funder to cater for retired citizens. All of these measures, while they seem like an additional cost, proffer certain benefits to not just the contributors but the society at large. The Finance Act, as worded, was necessary. We have to become self-sufficient to raise funding.

Q: What is Kenya Kwanza’s foreign policy?

A: We are rooted in the principles of mutual respect, adherence to international legal obligations, and safeguarding our national interests. We have to foster diplomatic engagements with other states, as we seek to build constructive and cooperative relationships on the global stage. We understand the importance of treating all nations with respect and dignity. In particular, we acknowledge the sovereignty and unique perspectives of each nation on our planet. Rest assured that we will uphold our commitment to comply with international laws and treaties because we recognise that a rules-based international order fosters stability and prosperity. In pursuit of our national interest, we have to navigate the complexities of the international arena as we work together with other nations in the spirit of cooperation, understanding, and the good of humanity.

Q: There are claims you are dancing with "global enemies" by hosting some of them in the country, what do you have to say on this?

A: Which enemies? In global geopolitics, there are no enemies amongst nations, just interests cloaked as “enemies or “friends” depending on what table you sit on. Kenya stands for peace and tolerance. We contribute troops to UN peacekeeping activities across the globe. In addition, our former President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka have been involved in regional peace talks. Kenya is a bridge across many divides, both real and metaphorical. We are extremely careful about labelling sovereign nations as enemies and we will stand by our international obligations to the community of nations.

Q: The president has publicly expressed his frustrations about “cluelessness” in some of the Cabinet and Principal Secretaries, as the senior government official tasked with overseeing the implementation of National Government policies, programmes and projects; what’s your take?

A: His Excellency the President is clear about one thing. This is a government that serves the people. It does not rule over the people. So the moment any appointee of His Excellency steps out of line or acts in a manner that is inconsistent with this mantra, they can expect to be reprimanded. Now that it has been more than a year after the elections and the establishment of the Kenya Kwanza regime, there are no more excuses. It is not beyond His Excellency to make changes to the senior ranks of the executive, that is his absolute prerogative which he will exercise in accordance with his wishes, which I can assure you will be guided by the national interest and the greater good of our nation. As chair of the Committee of Principal Secretaries, I work closely with the Principal Secretaries in coordinating government programmes and projects, as well as the National Government Legislative Agenda. I can assure you that serekali iko imara.

Q: Does their cluelessness on policies touching on their dockets a threat to achievements by those Ministries?

A: Let us get this straight, none of the CSs or PSs are clueless. They are all accomplished and patriotic citizens in their own right. They wouldn’t have been appointed to the roles they occupied if they were incompetent. His Excellency the President’s government would never allow Ministries to suffer from incompetent leadership. What President William Ruto alluded to was that some don’t take time to acquaint themselves with the events in their dockets.

Q: Is there a likelihood for a purge on those affected?

A: As is normal in all governments, there are refinements that happen along the way and Kenya is no exception. At the appropriate time and in his wisdom, His Excellency the President may make such changes as he may determine to be appropriate for the proper and effective functioning of his Government.

Q: What’s the aim of performance contracting of Ministers and PSs?

William Ruto

President William Ruto (centre) and CSs from left: Kithure Kindiki (Interior), Ababu Namwamba (Sports), Eliud Owalo (ICT), Florence Bore (Labour) Susan Nakhumucha (Health) and Alfred Mutua (Foreign Affairs). On the right are National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wah, Uasin Gishu Woman MP Gladys Shollei and Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A: Kenya is currently in the 20th Performance Contracting Cycle. We are the only country on the planet to have maintained such a long continuous performance contracting cycle. Simply put, we have a five-year Performance Contract with the people of Kenya, built around our key priorities. The people will evaluate our performance and provide a scorecard after five years where they will either renew our contract or dismiss us and invite an alternative administration to govern. As the Kenya Kwanza Administration, we must work together to fulfil the promises and commitments made to our citizens, we must perform efficiently and effectively.

Q: What’s the import of Public Service Performance Management Bill and Public Participation Bill that your office is working on?

A: Its core objective is to elevate performance contracting from a mere audit and compliance procedure to a fundamental ethos that drives the actions of public servants. That is why, for the first time, performance contracting, one of the tools of performance management, is being entrenched as a law. By promoting professional growth, workforce engagement, and strategic alignment, the bill envisions a results-driven, efficient, and transparent public service. Through formalizing performance contracting in law, it institutionalizes best practices, driving continuous improvement and long-term viability while reinforcing a transformative path for the future of the public service landscape. The government remains resolute in its commitment to ensure performance and delivery, as these are the very pillars on which our existence rests - to serve the citizens and uphold the national interest. The performance contract signing session in July, presided over by His Excellency the President, emphasized the government’s unwavering dedication to excellence and accountability in every sector. Ministries contractually bound themselves to timely and efficient execution of their workplans, aligning their objectives with the national priorities, and delivering tangible results that will uplift our nation. The Public Participation Bill aims to reinforce the positive transformation brought about by the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. In alignment with the principles and values of governance, this proposed Act of Parliament seeks to place the right holders, that is, the citizens, at the heart of development and governance processes. The main objectives of the Bill are to establish clear standards for effective public participation and to create a robust framework for the management and coordination of public participation initiatives throughout Kenya. By doing so, we aim to strengthen state-society relations and ensure that the voices and opinions of citizens are actively considered in decision-making processes, ultimately promoting more inclusive and accountable governance.

Q: What’s your take on the ongoing dialogue between government team and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga’s camp?

A: Dialogue is healthy. If we truly believe that we serve the nation and act in the national interest, then peace and constructive engagement is the best way forward. Anarchy is never an answer to any question. Dialogue without threats, demands and preconditions is the way to go. We want conversations that are citizen-centric and not anything that is aimed at massaging personal egos.

Q: Kenya Kwanza has expressed its frustrations with possibility of a handshake or nusu mkate (coalition government) yet opposition says that’s not what they desire, why the fears by your camp?

A: What is the point of our citizens waking up early on Election Day to go line up and vote for their chosen leader and his or her policies if, after the competition is over, the leaders get together and form a mongrel of a government with no clear direction? The foundation of any thriving democratic society lies in the principle that power is vested in the hands of the people, who express their will through the electoral process. Elections enable citizens to voice their preferences, visions, and aspirations for the future. However, elections inherently result in winners and losers, and it is this very outcome that cements the significance of accepting defeat gracefully. Accepting defeat is an act of respect for the democratic process itself and a reflection of the recognition that the majority of the people have expressed their support for the winning candidate’s policies and vision. It acknowledges that the collective decision of the citizens matters and is binding on all parties involved. A refusal to accept defeat or any form of a “handshake” between winners and losers can lead to detrimental consequences for a democratic society. Such actions may create divisions and erode trust in the democratic process, leaving the electorate feeling 6 unheard and marginalized. Ultimately, this could undermine the very foundations upon which our society is built. Accepting defeat in an election is an indispensable aspect of preserving and strengthening our democratic fabric. It acknowledges the will of the people and safeguards the trust and integrity of our electoral process.

Q: You and President Ruto are some of the senior officials who negotiated 2007/08 national accord that created the Grand Coalition government, why was that important then and not now in the spirit of national unity?

A: The circumstances were different then. During the 2007 general elections, Kenya experienced a deeply divisive and highly contested electoral process. The results were marred by serious flaws, irregularities, and allegations of electoral fraud. We have since matured as a democracy, we have a new constitution, which many consider the most progressive on the planet, new institutions and new mechanisms for addressing electoral disputes. Simply put, we allow the laws of the land to prevail, there is no need to seek extra-judicial solutions to situations that we can resolve based on the rule of law and the institutions of the Constitution. The 2008 Grand Coalition government was a necessary response to the exceptional circumstances and deep-rooted crisis Kenya faced during the 2007/2008 election period. However, as our national institutions have since evolved, our focus is now on upholding the principles of democracy, respecting the will of the people expressed through transparent and credible elections, and seeking legal avenues to address any disputes that may arise.

Q: What’s your take on claims of police brutality against protesters?

A: I understand the matter is being investigated by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and would not wish to comment on the issue lest I prejudice the investigations. What I can say is that the law shall prevail and those found accountable shall face it.

Q: Do you think the international community has a role in the dialogue between government and opposition?

A: No. We are a sovereign nation and the anarchy caused by the opposition is a local issue. We have competent and objective citizens that we can count on to discuss such issues. We cannot keep running to outsiders every time we disagree internally, we will lose credibility. Internal discussions allow for a deeper understanding of our nation’s unique context, history, and cultural nuances, ensuring that decisions made are tailored to the needs and aspirations of our great citizens. The only people on this planet who have a vested interest in the success of Kenya are we, Kenyans. I would rather trust a fellow citizen who knows us, understands us and loves this country to participate in such a process. In addition, it is crucial to demonstrate to the international community that Kenya is capable of handling its internal affairs in a responsible and transparent manner. Engaging in open dialogue with the opposition within the confines of the country’s legal and institutional frameworks enhances the nation’s credibility and strengthens its reputation on the global stage. Trust is essential in diplomatic relations, and demonstrating that Kenya is capable of self-governance fosters positive relationships with other nations.

Q: Are some of your Ministers facing sanctions? Explain reason Trade CS Moses Kuria was barred from a high powered meeting by US officials in July?

A: I am not privy to what foreign nations opt to do concerning access to their lands. It is important to acknowledge that each nation pursues its own interests, as we do in Kenya, and these decisions might involve diplomatic negotiations and considerations. Such discussions often entail a process of mutual concessions and negotiations to safeguard our nation’s interests and uphold diplomatic relations.

Q: What’s your parting shot?

A: As I reflect on the questions and provide insights into various aspects of the Kenya Kwanza Administration and its policies, it’s evident that the government has been navigating a complex landscape with both challenges and achievements. Over the past year, the Kenya Kwanza Administration has faced the uphill task of reviving a struggling economy. The Government has emphasized efficiency, accountability, and performance in its efforts to deliver on promises and uplift the lives of its citizens. Despite the difficulties, there is a clear commitment to addressing our nation’s debt status, widening the tax base, and ensuring sustainable economic growth. The government’s stance on performance contracting underscores our dedication to accountability and tangible results. The introduction of bills related to public service performance management and public participation demonstrates a commitment to strengthening governance, citizen engagement, and service delivery. We are a government elected and empowered by the people to serve the people, not ruling over them. The question of government-opposition dialogue highlights the importance of peaceful and constructive engagement. While there might be concerns about certain forms of collaboration, open dialogue remains a crucial aspect of maintaining democratic principles and preserving the unity of the nation because ultimately, we serve the great citizens of this nation whether in government or constructive opposition.

The Kenya Kwanza Administration’s approach to various issues is a clear indication of dedication to upholding democratic values, promoting transparency, and striving for the betterment of our citizens. The path forward involves addressing challenges head-on, learning from past experiences, and ensuring that policies are aligned with our nation’s long-term interests.

I have always maintained that there are no quick fixes to the main economic challenges that we face but, there is light at the end of this tunnel and, I do not doubt that when we speak again two years from now, the situation will be very different: we will be talking of tremendous successes and achievements of the Kenya Kwanza Administration.

I do not doubt that this Administration’s success will be measured not only by its achievements but also by its ability to uphold the principles of democracy, the rule of law, and service to the people