Musalia Mudavadi

Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi during the interview in Nairobi on February 2, 2022.
Jeff Angote | Nation 

| Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Earthquake aftermath: Musalia Mudavadi speaks on betrayal, new deal and presidential ambitions

What you need to know:

  • ANC boss downplays recent defections of a number of MPs from his party to the Azimio la Umoja camp.
  • Mr Mudavadi says he anticipated and contemplated a lot of ramifications before he sealed political deal with DP Ruto.

Two weeks after he dumped the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) for a pre-election deal with Deputy President William Ruto under the Kenya Kwanza umbrella, former Vice President and ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi believes he made the right move.

Mudavadi: Why I chose William Ruto over OKA

He speaks to our reporter WALTER MENYA on the night of betrayal, why he chose Ruto and the way forward.

It has been an event-filled two weeks since the partnership between UDA, ANC and Ford-Kenya was announced on January 23. How is the relationship with your new-found friends thus far?

All I can say is that I think I have lived up to my commitment because I told Kenyans that our NDC was going to transform and start shaping the politics of the country in a very significant way. I think now that is coming to pass. As far as I am concerned, we are now moving on, our target is August 9, 2022.

Your Western backyard has equally been busy. In the space of two weeks since you announced the partnership with UDA, you have lost a number of MPs who have switched allegiance to Azimio. What does this say about the feeling among the people on the ground towards the Kenya Kwanza Coalition with Deputy President William Ruto?

I think this is being overplayed. It is not significant. First, what the media is trying to run away from is to tell Kenyans how many MPs have defected from Jubilee. Have you told Kenyans how many have defected?

Earthquake aftermath: Musalia Mudavadi speaks on betrayal, new deal, and presidential ambitions

Two, how many ODM MPs are also away and operating in a different formula from the Coast, from the Aisha Jumwas and others? You are trying to hoodwink people to try to make it look like ANC is the only party that is experiencing some defections. All political parties are experiencing movements and adjustments. So, let us close that chapter.

But more significantly, you remember I said it was going to be an earthquake. When I said earthquake, I had anticipated and contemplated a lot of ramifications and the ANC itself was not going to be spared. As far as I am concerned, this is the season for the movement of politicians from one party to the other. You are going to see a lot of it.

Also, history has shown that anytime we are facing a General Election, we lose close to 80 per cent of the sitting MPs. Where MPs have chosen to move, ANC has replacements. We are not worried.

Some of your former partners in One Kenya Alliance (OKA) have accused you of betrayal, that despite committing to approach the August 9 elections as a team, you unceremoniously bolted out. What was the game changer that made you renege on you commitment to stay together in OKA?

If I am not wrong, isn't that what they are doing now as we speak (OKA was signing Deed of Assignment at time of interview). To the extent that they are signing a pact and they are forming a tripartite arrangement to work with who? Come on! I said it very early that the way I studied it, OKA was operating like a subsidiary of Azimio and when I sensed that, I said this is not our initial intention of getting together. These are apologists of Azimio. Under the circumstances, I had a different view.

Who betrayed who?

There is no betrayal here. This is politics. I mean, were you just going to sit quietly there when people are conniving, and then at the very tail end they put you in a situation where you have very little legroom to deal with the situation? As far as I am concerned, I have been vindicated. For a long time, OKA was operating as a subsidiary of Azimio and the decision I took was that I did not want to be a shareholder in that political subsidiary.

There have been claims that you only called the other OKA principals on the night before the NDC to inform them that you will be taking a different political path and friends. Was this the case?

Have you ever asked these guys, Kalonzo specifically — when he invited Raila to his function in Kasarani — whether he informed me and the time he did it? I went to the Kanu NDC at Bomas. It was Gideon’s day like the other one was Kalonzo’s day. Did you ever ask Gideon whether he had informed me? It is their day, ni siku yake ya harusi. It is his guest list. He can choose who makes his guest list.

Surely, you cannot now wake up and now say you want to determine my guest list; no, I refuse such kind of things. I am a Kenyan and Kenyans must have freedom of association. I respected their boundaries and I did not throw any tantrum when they invited their guests. I sat there, I respected their guests and there was nothing to it. However, when I invited mine, they wanted to come and throw a tantrum at my function.

Mudavadi: We must end the politics of coercion, betrayal in Kenya

Did the walk out of the other principals come as a shock you?

I could sense that they were nervous. They were saying that they do not want to be photographed as the photos would bring bad optics. To me, I was a bit amused kabisa. I was saying salala, kumbe you have reached a stage where people are now in a situation where they are scared of being photographed with other people? Is this the Kenya we want?

Before the January 23 ANC NDC, you had been a fierce critic of the DP and often times blamed him for the turmoil in government. What changed that made you decide to work with him towards the August 9 elections?

There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics. But I can tell you that the issue around the DP when I made my criticism was more policy based. That is how I made my criticism and I do not regret any of that criticism because I was making it based on policy orientation because the government of the day made commitments and they did not fulfill them.  What I also wanted to bring out is that let us also avoid the hypocrisy that we have been seeing.

The president said he would very soon want to tell Kenyans where he differed with his deputy. That statement is in the public domain. We are eagerly waiting as Kenyans. And it should not be an explanation to the people of Mt Kenya alone but all Kenyans because the position of deputy president is not a regional position. It is a position that is enshrined in the Constitution. A Kenyan in Kwale, Vihiga, Meru, Garissa, Isiolo, Lunga Lunga would want to know just as any other what could have been the problem.

I made my criticism, I stand by that but what I want to say is let us not reach a stage where we are put in a situation where somebody says your enemy is automatically my enemy or your friend is automatically my friend.

Musalia Mudavadi

Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi during the interview in Nairobi on February 2, 2022.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

After the handshake, you said that you would support President Uhuru Kenyatta. But lately you have become one of his fiercest critics and your speech during the NDC exemplifies this. What was the point of departure between you and the president?

Let me ask you, which of the issues that I said in my statements are false? I was speaking honestly to Kenyans about the state of the nation in the context of which I have seen it. To me, it was a liberating statement that should help Kenyans examine themselves because we have to make hard decisions in the ballot so that we can move forward.

I repeat, the country is hurting, we are feeling the weight on our shoulders. We need to speak candidly about these issues so that we can start finding solutions together. One of the things I also advised is that public service officers should be very careful because in transition, they could be lured into executing commitments that could come back to haunt them when those who may be the hidden hands behind those commitments are no longer in the positions of power. They better be very careful and do what is right for the people of Kenya.

On numerous occasions, you met with the President and other political party leaders during which meetings the subject of succession was at the top. There are even reports that the opposition leaders signed some document committing to work together to field a single candidate against the DP. What did you make of these meetings with the President?

On a fair note, as much as I may have differences of opinions with the President, I would rather not discuss what I have talked with the President in that kind of manner. We will let that pass.

There have been claims that either the President himself directly or through people close to him had at some point promised to back you for presidency but later on switched to Raila Odinga. This, according to some, explains your bitterness towards the President and Mr Odinga. Was there such a promise?

I will not give you a response. Why do we always want to live on rumours? To whom were these promises made? What commitments were made? Why do people speculate to the point that they do not want to see the facts?

I have been very clear in my remarks that it is the Kenyan voter who shall decide who the President of this country is, who is an MP, a governor, and such. The others may just be a wish list in the sense that people are hoping they can persuade somebody to vote or support them. In the context of what we are saying, it is the voter who will decide.

The political reality in this country is that no party just joins with another to form a coalition with nothing in exchange. What is in it for you in Kenya Kwanza? What will Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula be getting?

We are forming a coalition and I want to be very blunt. Tell me, those who are in Azimio, please put on the table their sharing arrangement. No one has it. Why is there a rush to establish what Kenya Kwanza is working on?

The date to file a coalition document is within the framework of the amended Political Parties Act, the one that our Parliament has just passed. I think they have pushed it to April. Why are we not waiting for that document to be put in place and it will be a public document? Once it is filed and lodged with the Registrar of Political Parties, the structures and the arrangement will be defined.

After coming to a coalition with UDA and Ford-Kenya among other parties, would you say categorically if you are still running for President?

I cannot say that forming coalitions has negated my ambitions. You will remember I was in Nasa. Did that negate my ambitions? It did not. Amendments to the Political Parties Act has just been passed. If you go behind the scenes of the amendments, you will find that we were involved even in the consultations to try and create a framework for strengthening of coalition parties arrangements in this country.

We had many meetings with all the other players — including the President, Kalonzo (Musyoka) and with the other members of the OKA — and we talked about this Bill and it was decided we go that route. That is how this Bill found its way to Parliament. We were trying to say the structure of coalition building as currently constituted before this Act was amended has been so weak that coalitions have been made and destroyed at the whims of the political players.

We want something that could make more sense going forward. We were deeply involved. As far as I am concerned, Kenya Kwanza is a formation that we have put together. I have not renounced my bid. As to how it eventually turns out, that will be a different conversation and we can only cross that bridge when we get there.

Constitutionally, DP Ruto cannot run for his current office again since he has served two terms as Deputy President. What position will he go for in the Kenya Kwanza Coalition if you were to be the coalition’s flag bearer?

True, he cannot, but that does not mean that he cannot change his mind. Not necessarily on that basis but it does not mean he cannot change his mind.

Tomorrow in the Sunday Nation:Mudavadi talks on power-sharing deal with Ruto, regional zoning and Kenya Kwanza’s presidential plan