Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi is closer to striking a political deal with Cord, a development that would see him play a bigger role in the outfit.
Suggestions of him being named the presidential candidate or at least a running mate have been rife this past week within the opposition.
His allies say they have had a series of talks with his former boss Raila Odinga, discussions that other Cord co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula are said to be aware of.
What is however in contention is who among the three politicians will sacrifice their positions for Mr Mudavadi as his entry would completely change the equation in Cord, by and large the country’s politics too.
Curiously, even his style of messaging has been similar to that of Mr Odinga especially when bashing the Jubilee government. It could be purely coincidental though.
The move is part of what Mr Odinga described last week as a push to form a broad coalition with the hope of sending President Uhuru Kenyatta home after the elections slated for August 8 next year.
The Sunday Nation is told of panic in Jubilee arising out of this development that would send them back to the drawing board. Much of their 2017 strategy, we gather, is designed with Mr Odinga in mind as the opponent, the move would thus destabilise them.
If it materialises, his coming in could firmly lock in western voting bloc in the opposition, a region that is currently a hunting ground for both Cord and Jubilee.
In an interview with the Sunday Nation yesterday, Mr Mudavadi used glowing turn of phrase to describe his relationship with the three leading Cord politicians.
“Raila is an important political player and a friend. We may have had different opinions in the past but we are not enemies. We have been together with Weta (Wetang’ula) for long in politics, just the other day we had breakfast together.
It is the same case as Kalonzo whom we have a cordial working relationship with. We did quite some work in repairing the damaged image of the country in the global scene when I was Finance minister and he was the Foreign Affairs minister. Kenya was facing hard times with its international partners then,” he said.
On reports about possibility of ganging up with Cord against Jubilee in the next elections, he said: “We may have different opinion on issues, but we can also find a lot of common grounds on policy issues which would be for the benefit of the country. In our engagement with Raila and Cord, I would be happy to focus on what will be of common good to get the country move forward.”
Last week, Mr Odinga sought to reassure Cord supporters that the coming in of his former deputy would not cost Mr Wetang’ula his place.
“We are open to admit new members. Musalia’s coming in, if that were to happen, will not undermine the position of Weta (Mr Wetang’ula) in Cord. He will have his place and Weta too,” he said.
There is said be a sense of unease among Mr Wetang’ula’s supporters who feel Mr Mudavadi’s coming in will displace their man.
News about prospects of the new-found alliance started after Mr Mudavadi and Mr Odinga appeared at the National Democratic Convention party in Philadelphia (United States) together late last month. The Democratic Party was formerly unveiling its presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ahead of the November 8 elections.
“Each one of us had been invited separately by the organisers,” he clarified.
He explained that in the US, their discussion with Mr Odinga largely focused on issues relating to electoral reforms. They would however talk about “politics” when they return home.
“We agreed to converse further on other aspects of Kenyan politics when we come home. In politics, there are no permanent enemies. ANC has an open policy and is broad-minded,” he said of the offing alliance.
He explained that even as ANC engages with “other like-minded individuals”, they will continue with their programmes to endear it directly to the masses.
“In fact, we will soon be inviting potential aspirants to take part in our activities. ANC is an independent party, we are not a party in government that’s why you don’t see us merging like you have seen happen,” he said in reference to the ongoing merger of parties affiliated to the ruling coalition.
He also decried the unemployment situation under Jubilee, warning it had gotten to crisis level.
“Standing at seven out of 10 people, it is the worst in East Africa. It means seven people depend on the other three, effectively denying them an opportunity to save or invest. We need to re-examine our economic model.”
He recommends the reintroduction of prime minister’s position as part of effort to achieve cohesion in the country.
“It may be necessary through a broad national consultation and consensus to broaden the top echelons of the structure to have the slot of a prime minister in addition to the presidency. Right now, there is a very strong feeling that if two blocs get together and they have the numerical strength, they easily exclude the other parts of the country,” he said.
He argues that most people didn’t quite understand much about the aspect of implementation of the model they had settled for.
“Kenyans had reached a level of fatigue and they just wanted a new Constitution. Some may not have realised the full implication of what they passed.
We may have created a Constitution that alienates the Executive from the people, for instance, I sympathise with committee heads in Parliament who are at times required to say things on behalf of the Executive, things they have no idea about.”
He however cautions that introducing this debate now will not do justice to it as it will be drowned in the bitter politicking expected between now and August 8 next year when the country picks its leaders.
“It should be done way before a General Election. We need a candid talk about this system.”
Mr Odinga has been accused by his Jubilee opponents of plotting to sneak back the prime minister’s position. This was particularly so when he led country-wide civil unrest against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that he accuses of being biased against the opposition.
Actualising the suggestion will however require a national referendum.
National accord entrenched in the Constitution after a negotiated settlement which ended a bloodbath following the disputed presidential poll between retired president Mwai Kibaki and Mr Odinga in 2007 created the premier’s position.
It was later abandoned when the country chose the presidential system in a referendum that ushered in a new Constitution in 2010.
In hosting delegations at State House, the latest being politicians from Kisii and coastal counties, the ANC leader accused President Kenyatta of suffering from hangovers of one party state system.
“It’s nostalgia. We are no longer a centralised system of government. That’s why you see national government deliberately holding on to monies meant for counties so they can go beg,” he said.
Having delegations paying homage to the founding President Jomo Kenyatta in Gatundu and later on President Daniel Moi in Kabarak and State House was a hall mark of their tenure, a period during which Kanu was the dominant party.