Kalonzo Musyoka

From left: Azimio leader Raila Odinga, his 2022 presidential running mate Martha Karua, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro,
Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

| Nation Media Group

Fears of political shake up over Ruto-Raila crisis talks

What you need to know:

  • Mr Mudavadi’s stature and influence in government and in political scene stand to shore up in the event his position of Prime Cabinet Secretary becomes entrenched in law.
  • A strong Mr Mudavadi and an active Mr Odinga, should he take up the proposed Office of the Official Opposition Leader, would present a threat to Mr Gachagua’s plans to succeed President Ruto.

The negotiations between President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga are likely to reconfigure the country’s political scene by elevating some individuals while diminishing the influence of others.

Fears of possible political casualties confirm the reason some politicians have come out in the open to oppose the talks that are designed to resolve the August 9, 2022 post-election crisis.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi – whose position the talks team seeks to entrench in the Constitution and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka – the opposition lead negotiator – could, however, turn out as beneficiaries after the negotiations.

Mr Mudavadi’s stature and influence in government and in political scene stand to shore up in the event his position of Prime Cabinet Secretary becomes entrenched in law.

A similar position of Prime Minister has previously been held by Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta and Mr Odinga under the grand coalition government.

They wielded immense power and influence.

The trapping of power that comes with the office has the potential of offering Mr Mudavadi a springboard to solidify his Western Kenya support base.

This in turn would make him an influential and critical player in the 2027 elections.

He is serving on the basis of President Ruto’s executive order, earning the same salary as Cabinet Secretaries.

Mr Musyoka’s position in the negotiations places him ahead of the pack in Mr Odinga’s succession plan should the former premier opt not to run in the next election, having done so five times unsuccessfully.

The Wiper chief’s placement in the team is also a sign of confidence and soft spot Mr Odinga has in him.

Deputy President, Rigathi Gachagua and Mr Odinga’s 2022 presidential running mate Martha Karua could, however, have to fight to protect their influence.

Mr Mudavadi is likely to chip away Mr Gachagua’s influence in the Kenya Kwanza administration should he become a substantive Prime CS with more and well defined roles.

A strong Mr Mudavadi and an active Mr Odinga, should he take up the proposed Office of the Official Opposition Leader, would present a threat to Mr Gachagua’s plans to succeed President Ruto.

Ndindi Nyoro.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachgua (left) and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

Understandably, Mr Gachagua has come out as one of the fiercest critics of the talks.

Some sources who spoke in confidence claimed this could have been one of the reasons for a failed attempt to lobby Mt Kenya MPs to reject the motion passed by the National Assembly and Senate to establish the talks.

Mr Gachagua’s stance on the matter alongside other political players, especially from Mt Kenya, confirms the fears and anxiety of possible casualties of the negotiations.

Kiharu MP, Ndindi Nyoro, has also come out as one of the strongest and loudest critics of the talks.

The negotiations promise to prop up new influential regional leaders.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah, his Minority colleague Opiyo Wandayi, Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot and former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa have firmed up their spot in the inner cabinet of their camps.

Apart from the Deputy President, Mr Ichung’wah has been elevated in Dr Ruto’s camp through key roles, including leading the talks and Kenya Kwanza troops in the National Assembly.

It is the same case for Mr Cheruiyot, who is emerging as one of the President’s closest allies from his Rift Valley backyard.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) rebel MPs and the Jubilee faction led by East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) MP Kanini Kega could become casualties of the talks should the National Dialogue Committee make radical proposals to fix external interference in political parties.

Jubilee Deputy Secretary-General, Joshua Kutuny, told the Sunday Nation that they plan to submit a memorandum to the National Dialogue Committee to defend their position.

He said his faction followed the provided procedure to make changes while accusing their rivals of interfering with the running of the former ruling party.

“We take the talks with a pinch of salt because it is a selfish kind of engagement by people pushing their agenda. We will go there as Jubilee and explain that we are bona fide officials,” Mr Kutuny said.

According to politicians and analysts, the talks have the potential to hoist and shatter careers.

“If there is an issue of consideration or when it comes to sharing of the spoils from the talks, Kalonzo would be at the table. He would definitely have an elevated influence within Azimio,” said political analyst Javas Bigambo.

“If Mudavadi becomes the third substantive PM (Prime Cabinet Secretary in this case) before the 2027 elections, that lifts his profile. He can use the position to shore up his numbers. The question of him taking away some of the DP’s influence is something that can only be determined by the President.”

Kakamega Deputy Governor, Ayub Savula, said the placement of Mr Musyoka as the head of the opposition team in the talks is a kind of endorsement by Mr Odinga.

“It gives him (Kalonzo) serious clout in national politics. In the event Raila says he is not running, Kalonzo would be the man to look at. It is basically an endorsement,” Mr Savula said.

Makueni Senator, Dan Manzo, and Machakos Deputy Governor, Francis Mwangangi, described Mr Musyoka as a known negotiator.

The two leaders said it was not surprising that Mr Odinga settled on him to lead the team, adding that it was time Mr Odinga considers handing the mantle of the opposition to the former vice-president.

“He is a diplomat and negotiator. He has come out as a statesman ready to mediate for a peaceful country. As a region, we see him as the right person to lead this country,” Mr Mwangangi said.

Mr Manzo added that Mr Gachagua is likely to be the main loser should the talks succeed.

He said the DP was behind the attempted takeover of Jubilee to have the outfit as a backup party.

The senator said the talks could thwart his attempts of taking the party from former president Uhuru Kenyatta.

In Nyanza, Mr Wandayi is emerging as one of Mr Odinga’s most trusted allies.

He deputises Mr Musyoka in the talks on the opposition side. His position in the National Assembly as the Minority Leader has also elevated him among his peers, making him one of the influential figures around Mr Odinga.

“Leaders grow like mushrooms. That’s how Wandayi is growing. Nothing will block him from top leadership because we have left it for him. These are the people that will guide us and give direction,” Mr Odinga’s elder brother Oburu Oginga recently said, giving credence to the rise of Mr Wandayi in the opposition camp.

But Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo – one of the rebel ODM lawmakers – said the talks would not elevate anyone.

Mr Odhiambo said after the talks, leaders who have been fighting them for joining hands with Dr Ruto “will see sense in our decision”.

“Those negotiations will only confirm the decision some of us made some time ago. People have to know when to play politics and when to consider development and national issues,” Mr Odhiambo said.

Mr Odhiambo, Mr Gideon Ochanda (Bondo), Mr Caroli Omondi (Suba South), Mr Mark Nyamita (Uriri), Mr Paul Abuor (Rongo), Mr Phelix Odiwuor alias Jalang’o (Lang’ata) and Kisumu Senator Tom Ojienda severed links with Mr Odinga to work with Dr Ruto.