Musalia Mudavadi’s entry into the presidential race two months ago changed the political landscape and dramatically altered the dynamics of the campaigns to produce President Kibaki’s successor. Until then there had been a high possibility that Raila Odinga would have picked Mudavadi as his running mate but the latter’s departure from the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) was indeed a blow to the party and shook ODMS’S ground in Western Province.
MUDAVADI GIVES G7 FOOD FOR THOUGHT
With Mudavadi heading the ticket for the United Democratic Forum (UDF) as his political vehicle the G7 alliance had another ‘compromise’ candidate to consider apart from the Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who had been shunned by Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto as an opportunist who was trying to capitalise on their cases pending at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ultimately become the presidential candidate.
Mudavadi’s appearance as a presidential candidate also left Eugene Wamalwa, who had all along thought that he carried the weight in Western region, grasping for space as far as political influence is concerned in what he surely considered his own back yard – Luhyaland.
Mudavadi ostensibly quit ODM in May after frustrated efforts to have the clause in the ODM constitution that automatically guarantees the presidential ticket to the party leader amended, so that he could run against Raila.
His critics however, accused him of being used by Raila’s political enemies to cause chaos in the ODM and argued that bolting out of the party would win him few sympathy votes and certainly not the presidency, adding that his presidential dream remains in ODM, probably after an Odinga presidency. “Musalia Mudavadi is a bright political star but his star can only shine brightest within the orange constellation”, said Ababu Namwamba, ODM parliamentary group secretary.
MUDAVADI’S CRITICS SURPRISED
Well, as it appears now, the likes of Ababu Namwamba might be in for a surprise as Musalia’s popularity seems to be increasing following his bold departure from Odinga’s party.
Many people supported Mudavadi’s move to walk out of Odinga’s shadow who he had deputised for him in cabinet as Deputy Prime MInister and as Deputy Leader of the ODM, and there are a growing number of people who now consider him as an independent sober minded candidate who is able to stand out on his own two feet. Previously he had always been considered to walk in the shadows of other political bigwigs, including retired president Daniel Arap Moi.
IMPROVING POLL RATING BUT NEEDS A RUNNING MATE
Going by the latest polls, Musalia Mudavadi is standing in the top five presidential aspirants, although admittedly only on about eight per cent of the vote at this stage. His chances of becoming the next occupant of statehouse will be in some measure determined by his choice of running mate.
Top on the list among the potential running mates is the Mandera Central MP, Abidkadir Mohammed, who is also an official in UDF. Abdikadir seems to have various factors working to his advantage; he is a youthful Mp from a county that does not have a presidential candidate, a key factor that Mudavadi has to consider. He has been considered by many as being outstanding in parliament as a reformer from the time he was elected in 2007. This has seen him win the hearts of many Kenyans with not a few suggesting that they would support him if he ever vied for the top seat.
Abidkadir Mohammed has chaired the committee overseeing the draft and now the Implementation Oversight Committee of the new constitution. He happens to be a Muslim too who is likely to attract the Muslim voters who felt betrayed by Raila after he recently sacked Najib Balala.
Balala alleged that he facilitated the signing of a pre-election Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Muslims and Raila, which prompted Muslim leaders to prevail upon him to sacrifice his own presidential ambition in 2007 in support of the Odinga. With his sacking Balala now says Muslims feel betrayed by Raila.
Most political analysts believe that a candidate for Vice President from a community which does not have a presidential hopeful would work an advantage to the presidential candidate who selected him since a community that already has a potential presidential aspirant would not see the need to waste their votes on someone else going for anything less than the top seat.
Musalia Mudavadi is hopeful of winning the elections in the first round and says that his journey to state house is unstoppable. “I have served in several ministerial positions including that of the vice president and the remaining is the presidency I am campaigning for”, he said.
MUDAVADI HAS BECOME A ‘PLAYER’
Even though anything in politics is possible, Mudavadi is extremely unlikely win the presidency in the first round as all the opinion polls are pointing firmly at a two-round election but his presidential candidature has shaken up the established order.
Who knows what will happen this far from election day. The stakes are high, but again this is Kenya, and as far as politics is concerned there are few permanent enemies or permanent friends. There is plenty of room for surprises. Whatever happens, even starting from a low base, Musalia Mudavadi has become a ‘player’ in the presidential election game.