ANC party's NDC Bomas of Kenya

From Left: Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula, DP William Ruto, ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi and Jibebe Party leader William Kabogo at the Bomas of Kenya on January 23, 2022 during ANC party's NDC meeting.

| Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Ruto and Mudavadi: When political expediency trumps personal honour

Deputy President William Ruto’s dalliance with Amani National Congress (ANC) boss Musalia Mudavadi is the latest illustration of the saying that there are no permanent enemies or friends in politics.

It is, perhaps, even more relevant if you throw in Tujibebe Wakenya Party leader William Kabogo.

Mr Kabogo, who told an ANC event on Sunday that he was happy he would “sleep well enough not to keep turning at night”, blamed the DP for his 2017 Jubilee nominations loss, which also cost him the Kiambu governor’s race.

For Mr Mudavadi, pairing with Dr Ruto marked an on-and-off relationship, with Mr Mudavadi often castigating the DP’s economic ideas in the 2022 State House race and his role in the mess he said the Jubilee government had created.

But for ‘enemies’ who often saw the bad in each other, the ANC National Delegates Convention saw them become strange bedfellows, with praises flying all across the room.

More than twice last year, Mr Mudavadi accused the DP of being insincere and lacking integrity, saying he was in government and the opposition at the same time.

Mysterious

“Some things are just mysterious. The Deputy President resides in a government house, has security provided by the government, workers paid for by the government, and all his bills paid for by the government,” Mr Mudavadi said in a video that has resurfaced online.

“He also sits in the Cabinet. Now, how does he turn back and say he does not know what goes on in government? What kind of politics is that? Open deceit in broad daylight. You cannot enjoy the perks and privileges of government, then as soon as you step out, you deny the same government.”

In his many attacks on the DP, Mr Mudavadi also rubbished the United Democratic Alliance’s (UDA) bottom-up economic model. He said it was the wrong way to address the problems facing Kenyans, who, he insisted, only need the economy to be made to work for them.

Attacks both ways

And the attacks go both ways.

When Mr Mudavadi blamed former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, who was dismissed in July 2019, for the country’s economic plans and woes, the majority leader at the time, Aden Duale, now a trusted lieutenant in the DP Ruto camp, did not mince his words.

“I have seen Musalia Mudavadi correcting our Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich. I have told Musalia that when he was finance minister, Kamlesh Pattni stole from us. The finance minister whose tenure saw the biggest amount of money stolen is Musalia Mudavadi,” he said in a video that quickly surfaced online after the ANC-UDA rapprochement.

“When he was local government minister, he was caught up in the cemetery scandal. Now, how can he talk about the economy?”

But at the ANC event, Mr Duale was full of praise for Mr Mudavadi, saying the former vice-president had told truth to power.

For Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, the man largely credited with making the Ruto-Mudavadi deal happen, he made a 180-degree turn. He had sworn that the ANC leader’s only place to go was under Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja.

Not an option

Mr Malala had insisted that Dr Ruto was not a partnership option for the ANC boss.

“We want to tell Musalia Mudavadi: Raila Odinga is our only option. If he wants to go to Ruto, he will go alone. If he does, we will go with other people here and start our working relationship with Raila. We will not work with William Ruto,” Mr Malala said in late 2020.

The senator, who wants the Kakamega governor’s seat and will face ex-ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula and Dr Ruto’s ally in the region, Dr Boni Khalwale, then drifted away from Mr Odinga, but kept insisting that Mr Mudavadi was the undisputed One Kenya Alliance (OKA) flag-bearer.

That too fell apart as he soon slowly drifted towards the DP’s side, including the surprise invite to his New Year’s Eve football tournament in Mumias, held on the same day firebrand trade unionist Francis Atwoli led a Bukhungu Stadium declaration stripping Mr Mudavadi of the Luhya spokesman title and endorsing Mr Odinga for the top job.

Mr Malala also attended UDA’s big rally at the Eldoret Sports Ground, where Dr Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard endorsed him.

And though the party released a statement denouncing Mr Malala’s claim that ANC was ready to work with Dr Ruto, Mr Mudavadi stood with the senator, saying he spoke for the outfit.

“DP Ruto and Mudavadi have been kingmakers in the past. We are going to make sure they're the kings of this republic,” Mr Malala said on Sunday.

Betrayal

Yesterday, Wiper Organising Secretary Robert Mbui accused Mr Mudavadi of betrayal, saying he had broken the OKA dream, and caught his fellow principals off guard.

“Kalonzo did not believe that his partners in OKA who had suffered the mistrust and bad relations within a coalition before, would do what they did,” said Mr Mbui, who claimed the Kalonzo party only received 15 invitation cards against 300 that went to UDA.

“We had meetings and we told him there was a possibility these people might jump ship. But he is a trusting person; and he trusted them. In OKA, we are fairly exposed, but we will soldier on.”

Ford Kenya Secretary-general Chris Wamalwa said OKA should nurse its wounds and prepare its final rites.

“Sunday was the end of OKA. We are just waiting for the official burial. In politics, it is about capturing power, and some are a no-go zone. We were betrayed in Nasa, and we are not going back to it,” Mr Wamalwa said.

“It was wrong for Kalonzo and Moi to leave. They invited their own friends to their NDC, and we had no problem. You cannot come to one’s function and (dictate) who is invited or not.”

‘Well-informed’

Soy MP Caleb Kositany, a key ally of the DP, defended the Mudavadi-Wetang’ula move, saying it was well-informed.

“The difference with us is we don't make decisions in hotels and boardrooms. We go to the people so that they help us make decisions,” he said.

“We will be asking them if they agree with this partnership and they will give us their verdict...but what I can assure you, the next President of the republic of Kenya is coming from the earthquake coalition."

But Eldas MP Adan Keynan, the secretary of the Jubilee parliamentary group, believes Mr Mudavadi sold himself short.

“Musalia Mudavadi lost his national stature because UDA will look for a DP from Mt Kenya. What he did at Bomas, it seems, was (shelve) his presidential ambitions. Sunday’s event handed over the people of Western to Raila Odinga,” said Mr Keynan.


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