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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 1 February 2015

UHURU IN 2017 TALKS WITH MUDAVADI, GIDEON

There are so many sideshows on the political front right now that pundits are overlooking a deep politics development  that is unfolding behind the scenes but which has far-reaching implications for the 2017 polls and 2022  new order.
This is a series of top secret talks that Uhuru Kenyatta has been holding separately and in various well-secured venues, both in Kenya and abroad, with Musalia Mudavadi and Gideon Moi.
The encounters with Mudavadi are not much publicised as those of young Moi. However sources say Uhuru often calls Mudavadi  and the two have decided to keep their relationship and talks secret fearing to offend those uncomfortable with the link.
Sources reveal this is part of a prolonged series of meetings and functions since Uhuru entered State House in 2013, but they went into high gear as soon as the president’s crimes against humanity prosecution case collapsed at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
They include Uhuru’s attendance of the 25th commemoration of the passing on of Mudavadi’s father, Moses Substone Budamba Mudavadi home  Mululu in Sabatia constituency, Vihiga.
Few and select people have been able to get Uhuru, as president, to visit them at their rural homes. The most outstanding example being General Julius Karangi, Chief of the Defence Forces. Uhuru spent a day and a night at Karangi’s home in Nyeri in 2013. Uhuru is yet to visit  his deputy’s Sugoi home in Uasin Gishu  since  taking the big seat.
Impeccable sources privy to Uhuru’s engagements with Mudavadi post-ICC case reliably inform Weekly Citizen that a cunning strategy is being slowly unfurled whereby the UDF leader does not mount a presidential campaign in 2017 but guns for t he Nairobi governor position instead.
Some of Mudavadi’s supporters might view the move as a downgrading of their man who is, after all, a former VP, DPM and presidential candidate. But  this is to miss the big picture, which has everything to do with the Uhuru succession in 2022, the biggest political transition prize since the Moi and Mwai Kibaki successions in 2002 and 2013.
The declared strategy inside the ruling Jubilee Alliance is that Uhuru must serve his full two-term 10 years and then campaign for Deputy President William Ruto to succeed him. But this is too simplistic and risky a scenario, particularly considering the troubles the DP finds himself in on several fronts (see another story on page 2).
Mudavadi is being roped in on the understanding that the Ruto factor in 2017 is remote. Further Mudavadi’s recent declaration that he is willing to work with Raila Odinga has sent shivers in Jubilee hence a need to engage him. It is imperative to note, the over 500,000 votes Mudavadi got in the 2013 presidential race could have complicated events if he was not in the race. Pundits say, the votes could have landed in the hands of Raila although at the end they would not have denied Uhuru the 50 plus one percent.
Sources say Uhuru is comfortable having Mudavadi his running mate in 2017 in case Ruto marriage with Ruto collapses. Those behind the move say it is easier to sell Mudavadi to Mount Kenya come 2022 than Ruto.
And to make Mudavadi relevant come 2017 and for the bargain of the Luhya community, senior politicians from the region are planning to back his presidency. Of  late, Cyrus Jirong, Eugene Wamalwa, Soita Shitanda, Noah Wekesa and Kenneth Marende have held talks to front one of their own. A party to bring the community together has been indentified. Cotu boss Francis  Atwoli  is  a key player in the plot.
But time waits for no man, not even kings, and politics is a dynamic and fluid  process full of twists, turns and treacheries.
As for Gideon, he too is close to Uhuru and his eyes are steadily on the 2022 succession. The Mois and the Kenyattas have a long history and an interesting future that is already unfolding in the ongoing interactions, both overt and covert.
Gideon has accompanied Uhuru to Sudan and AU summits in Ethiopia as well as to the billionaire playgrounds of Dubai to watch the elitist Formula One motor racing sport. Uhuru accompanied Gideon to the famous Kimalel goat auction where Ruto’s absence was conspicous.
Eyebrows shot up throughout the diplomatic community in June 2014, when the United Nations Environment Assembly opened its Segment Summit and Gideon was given the official protocol duties of escorting Prince Albert II of Monaco, who attended the world environmental body’s four-day conference in Nairobi.
It was not lost on observers that Gideon escorted Albert II even to social functions and on his outings from the business of the summit. Like Albert II, Gideon is a polo enthusiast.
This unique protocol duty at Uhuru’s request underscored those meetings that the head of state has had with both Gideon and Mzee Moi at the latter’s Kabarnet Gardens residence and elsewhere.
It was also no surprise that it was Gideon himself who recommended Uhuru for the award of the honourary Doctor of Leadership  degree at Kabarak University’s 10th graduation ceremony.
Accepting the honour, a visibly impressed and gratified Uhuru declared, “I also associate myself with the ethos which continues to inspire the founder and chancello r of the university, His Excellency Hon DT arap Moi. These values - passion for quality education, leadership of high standards, service to the community, consistent vision and steadfast focus - are ideals that all successful leaders must embrace”.
It is an open secret that Moi, now aged 91, would like to see nothing more dearly, before he goes to meet his Maker, than history repeating itself in the form of Gideon becoming a frontrunner for the Kenyatta succession of 2022, when he would be 98 years old .
Ruto must be nervous at how many other factors are shaping the Uhuru succession and how the movers and shakers are activating their own strategies and agenda, some of them longterm.
The elder Moi is a longterm planner and strategist. Uhuru’s quiet consolidation of his ties to Mudavadi and Gideon gives every impression of a game-changer being in the works with an eye mainly on 2022 but also on 2017.
Uhuru and Mudavadi were political buddies during their days in Kanu. In the run-up to the 2002 elections, Moi fingered Uhuru as his preferred successor to the chagrin of Kalonzo Musyoka, George Saitoti and Raila all of whom had hoped to fly the Kanu presidential flag.
Raila, Kalonzo and Saitoti left Kanu to form LDP, Moi quickly assembled a team with Uhuru as the candidate with Mudavadi as running mate. Although they lost, the two remained the best of friends and Uhuru extended a nomination slot for Mudavadi who had been trounced by Moses Akaranga of Narc in the Sabatia parliamentary seat.
However, Mudavadi declined to take the slot and was in the political oblivion for five years before joining Raila in the run-up to 2007 elections.
After the 2007 elections, power struggle ensued in the party with Gideon accusing Uhuru of abandoning Kanu to work with Mwai Kibaki’s PNU. This was against the wishes of Gideon and secretary general Nick Salat. They also accused Uhuru of failing to convene the NEC, National Delegates Conference and National Governing Council meetings.
In April 2012, Uhuru finally dumped Kanu when he said he would not defend his seat during the party’s national elections. Uhuru said his decision not to defend his seat in Kanu had been informed by the provisions of the constitution and the Political Parties Act which require that no public servant is allowed to hold a political office.
Moi served as the party’s chairman until he retired in 2002 after which Uhuru took over the mantle in 2005 when he beat off a challenge by former Keiyo MP Nicholas Biwott who left to form his own New Vision Party. During the 2013 elections, Kanu did not field a presidential candidate but supported Uhuru’s candidature and had a pre-election pact as an affiliate of Jubilee Alliance.
Mudavadi on the other hand had his UDF party join Jubilee only to withdraw it after Uhuru changed his mind after stepping down for him to fly the alliance’s flag. Some say it showed that Uhuru had faith in Mudavadi to take care of his interest and that of the Mount Kenya community. Uhuru strongly believed with Mudavadi on the top seat,  Jubilee was assured of first round win as the alliance was assured of block vote from Western, Rift Valley and Central. Uhuru had consulted widely and Kikuyu elders agreed that Mudavadi was accepted across ethnic, religious and political divide. Other dynamics however came into play with Uhuru’s advisers reminding Uhuru that it was not about Mt Kenya interests but his interests particularly his ICC case which only he could save himself from and this only if he became president. With Ruto in the same boat, he also believed that only as deputy president could he have a chance to escape the ICC and hence the axis of then suspects bonded minus Mudavadi.