Musalia Mudavadi one step away from power after 10 years in cold

Musalia Mudavadi.

A file photo of Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The ANC leader last served in government as the Deputy PM and Local Government Minister in the Grand Coalition government.
  • Mr Mudavadi was Kenya’s 7th Vice-President, a position he held for 52 days, becoming the shortest holder of that office.
  • At the age of 29, he became Sabatia MP in 1989 on a Kanu ticket when he was elected unopposed in a by-election after the death of his father Moses Mudamba Mudavadi.

After 10 years in the cold, ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi is set to get back into government as the Prime Cabinet Secretary in the Kenya Kwanza administration but only if the National Assembly confirms his nomination.

Mr Mudavadi, now in his 33rd year in Kenyan politics, has previously served in Cabinet for a cumulative 18 years.

The dockets he has headed include Agriculture, Finance, Transport, Information and Broadcasting, Supplies and Marketing as well as Local Government. He has also served as Vice-President and Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr Mudavadi will be the first one off the blocks in the vetting exercise on day one.

The others in the queue on the first day are former National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi (Attorney-General), Garissa Township MP Aden Duale (Defence), Kandara MP Alice Wahome (Water) and former Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua (Foreign Affairs).

The vetting of Mr Mudavadi comes as Speaker Moses Wetang’ula is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the position he was nominated for after Leader of Minority Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) petitioned him.

“I brought to the attention of the Speaker that this position of Prime Cabinet Secretary is not provided for in the constitution. They have to rename that position and give it another title because this one is not right, it is like creating another office and I invited him to guide the country,” said Mr Wandayi.

The ANC leader was last in public service when he served as the Deputy Prime Minister and Local Government Minister in the Grand Coalition government, and Sabatia MP in the 10th parliament that ended in 2013. 

Mr Mudavadi was Kenya’s 7th Vice-President, a position he held for 52 days, becoming the shortest holder of that office.

At the age of 29, he became Sabatia MP in 1989 on a Kanu ticket when he was elected unopposed in a by-election after the death of his father Moses Mudamba Mudavadi.

He was the appointed Minister for Supplies and Marketing before being made Finance minister. He went on to recapture the Sabatia seat easily in the 1992 and 1997 elections. 

He is remembered for his leadership at Treasury in the early 1990s when he convinced donors to resume aid to Kenya after they had placed sanctions on the country over corruption and violation of human rights. It was also during his stint that he initiated the formation of the Kenya Revenue Authority. 

His time at the Transport ministry was marked by the liberalisation of the communications sector, leading to the emergence of numerous radio and TV stations.

He also oversaw the split of the Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation, which saw the birth and growth of telcos Safaricom and Kencell (now Airtel).

His political misfortunes, however, started in 2002 when he lost his MP seat. 

In the 2007 elections, Mr Mudavadi joined Mr Raila Odinga’s ODM and was made the deputy party leader.

President Mwai Kibaki was controversially declared the winner against Mr Odinga. Mr Mudavadi reclaimed the Sabatia seat and was later appointed Deputy Prime Minister.

However, in the 2013 elections, he made another political blunder. President Kibaki was retiring after serving his second and final term in office.

Many expected Mr Mudavadi to back Mr Odinga for the Presidency against former President Uhuru Kenyatta. Instead, he decided to vie for the presidency and came a distant third in the race.

“Even if I should lose the 2013 presidential election, it was very important that I should not make our other candidates also lose, just because the captain had sensed defeat and pulled out of the race,” he writes in his book. At the time, he was under pressure to support Mr Odinga’s bid.

“I would stay the course even if only to give the rest of my team a fighting chance. But I could not say this to my worried colleagues. I assured them that we were on a winning course,” his book reads.

Along the way, Mr Mudavadi mended fences with Mr Odinga and in the 2017 elections, the two joined with others to form the National Super Alliance against President Kenyatta’s Jubilee party. President Kenyatta was declared the winner. 

Mr Mudavadi later pulled out of Nasa and declared that he would vie for the presidency only to later change and support President William Ruto’s bid.

In the new government, Mr Mudavadi will chair and coordinate the national government’s legislative agenda across all ministries and state departments in consultation with and for transmission to the party and coalition leaders in Parliament.

He will also facilitate inter-ministerial coordination of cross-functional initiatives and programmes, coordinate and supervise the technical monitoring and evaluation of government policies, programmes and projects across ministries and perform any other function as may be assigned by the President.

Mr Mudavadi, however, has no specific docket to man and will wait for instructions from his boss.

In Executive Order No.1 of 2022, President Ruto designated the roles for the holder of the Office of the Prime Cabinet Secretary.

He is expected to assist the President and his deputy in the coordination and supervision of government ministries and state departments as well as oversee the implementation of national government policies, programmes and projects.

“He’s cyclically regenerated and been reborn from the doldrums of the political dumping pit. Like the legendary Phoenix, he has gained a new life by arising from political ashes,” said his private secretary Kibisu Kabatesi.

Muturi will be in familiar territory during vetting process

Justin Muturi

Former Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi was appointed as the country's next Attorney General.

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

When he walks into County Hall today at 10.30 am, Justin Bedan Njoka Muturi will be on the other side of the vetting panel he chaired in the 12th and 13th Parliament.

The immediate former Speaker of the National Assembly has been nominated by President William Ruto as the next Attorney-General.

The Committee of Appointments, which vets Cabinet secretaries, will still be familiar territory.

Other than having chaired it before, the committee is chaired by Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, a man with whom Mr Muturi shared a room in their days at the University of Nairobi. It also has MPs Mr Muturi worked with closely in his tenure as Speaker from 2013 to2022.

During this period, those on the minority side accused him of bias and leaning towards the government side.

Already, Minority leader Opiyo Wandayi—who had a run-in with Mr Muturi who ordered his ejection from the House for unruly behaviour—has vowed to be tough on President Ruto’s appointees.

The former Speaker is among those from the Mt Kenya region who defied former President Uhuru Kenyatta to support President Ruto’s bid.

During his tenure, he is credited with opening up the institution to public scrutiny and allowing the media unfettered access to committee and House proceedings.

He is also credited for initiating a number of development projects including the establishment of the Kenya School of Parliamentary Studies, where staff and new MPs are trained on their roles, and building new MPs offices that will be ready for occupation early next year.

Those in Kenya Kwanza believe the AG position suits him due to his law background and having worked in the Judiciary as a magistrate.

Nominated MP John Mbadi, however, told the Nation that Mr Muturi is a good manager and should have been nominated as a Cabinet secretary instead of the AG.

Wahome awaits glory after cutting down Uhuru in Mt Kenya

Kandara MP Alice WAhome.

Kandara MP Alice Wahome. 

Photo credit: Pool I Nation Media Group

Kandara MP Alice Wahome—who unsuccessfully ran for Parliament twice before clinching the seat in 2013 and defending it twice—is no ordinary woman.

Ms Wahome, 63, immersed herself in the fight against former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s dominance in the Mt Kenya region with a passion that brought to the fore her tough mien.

Pundits see Ms Wahome’s nomination to the Water ministry as a reward for her loyalty to President William Ruto and for taking on President Kenyatta head-on in Mt Kenya.

The lawmaker is among those that were purged from parliamentary leadership positions by President Kenyatta after his handshake with Mr Raila Odinga.

She served as a member of the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee until it she was dropped.

As she appears before the Committee of Appointments today, the gender card is likely to work for her as she was among seven women that were nominated to the Cabinet.

During campaigns, the President promised to give half of the Cabinet positions to women.

“We have been rewarded with this Cabinet position and it is a big honour. We will remain steadfast in UDA and the people will decide on who succeeds me.” Ms Wahome said just after the President named his Cabinet line-up.

She will be the last nominee to face the Moses Wetang’ula-chaired committee at 3.30 pm.

As she faces the panel, a scandal involving her alongside Evans Monari, Justry Nyaberi and Beatrice Kariuki for allegedly misappropriating Sh284 million from Mbiyu Koinange’s estate might crop up, although the High Court Judge halted their prosecution.

An ugly incident in 2017, in which Ms Wahome was caught on camera roughing up Kandara Returning Officer Martin Malonza may also come up.

In 2016, Ms Wahome also created a scene on the Kenol-Murang’a road when she sought to remove a police roadblock during a crackdown on unroadworthy vehicles.

Former governor’s lucky streak in government set to continue

Former Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.

Former Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru I Nation Media Group

The life of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Cabinet secretary nominee Alfred Nganga Mutua can be best described as bitter-sweet.

From a job as a journalist in the 1990s to serving as government spokesman in President Mwai Kibaki’s administration, the former Machakos governor has now risen to one of the most powerful dockets in the Kenya Kwanza administration.

The position has made Dr Mutua the most senior politician from Ukambani in President Ruto’s administration.

For the 10 years he served as a spokesperson, Kenyans vilified him for not responding to controversial issues.

The producer of the famous TV series- Cobra Squad, was the brain behind the Najivunia Kuwa Mkenya public campaign to promote the country’s identity, image and culture.

As he faces the vetting panel today, the flamboyant ex-county boss will be put to task to explain a Sh89 million deal for the de-silting of Marumba dam and another Sh50 million from the Danish International Development Agency.

It is alleged that in 2019, the Sh89 million contract was awarded in 2016 but no work was done.

Following public outcry over the mistreatment of Kenyans in the Gulf countries, Dr Mutua is also likely to be required to explain what measures he will put in place to tackle the menace.

He joins the Foreign Affairs docket at a time when the focus is still high on Kenya’s relations with the East—with China being its biggest lender—and the West, where President Ruto seems to have focused his eyes on since being sworn in.

Dr Mutua will also take charge of the diaspora affairs, with President Ruto having promised to give them more attention in his administration. 

This is mostly due to the huge growth in remittances, which grew 11.44 per cent in the January-August 2022 period to Sh320 billion, consolidating its position as Kenya’s top forex earner ahead of tea exports, tourist receipts and horticultural exports.

Duale set to ‘retire’ from politics if he joins Ruto’s Cabinet  

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Mr Aden Barre Duale once said that he will only retire from politics once William Ruto occupies State House.

Well, his remarks may come to pass if he is appointed to the Cabinet following his nomination by President Ruto, with his vetting scheduled for today.

Mr Duale will be the third to be vetted by the Committee on Appointment after Mr Mudavadi and Mr Muturi.

Mr Duale is currently serving his fourth consecutive term as MP, first as Dujis MP in 2007 and Garissa Township MP from 2013.

He was first elected in 2007 under the ODM party and made Assistant Minister for Livestock in the Grand Coalition government.

Mr Duale successfully defended his seat in the subsequent elections, becoming one of the few MPs to be elected on different political parties every election year.

Mr Duale was the pioneer Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly, serving until July 2020 when he was controversially removed and replaced with former Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya.

It is an office he established from scratch.

In the position, Mr Duale was essentially the leader of government business in the House, sponsoring 150 Government Bills.

“I am proud that during my time as the Leader of the Majority, I never lost any government Bill in the House.The only time I lost a government agenda in the House was when Dr Monica Juma’s nomination as Secretary to the Cabinet was rejected by the House,” he said.

Mr Duale says that through policy formulation and implementation, he will ensure that Kenya’s military becomes among the best in the world.

The MP participated in the vetting of Cabinet secretaries, the country’s three Chief Justices and their deputies, Attorneys-General, and Inspectors-General of police among other top leaders.

Mr Duale said that the terrorist attack on Garissa University, the only public university in Northern Kenya, was one of his lowest moments in life.

Reporting David Mwere, Samwel Owino, Onyango K' Onyango