Musalia Mudavadi turns down Cabinet job
Former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi declined to take up an offer for a Cabinet position but offered to “support the government from outside”, the Sunday Nation has learnt.
On Friday, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the nomination of former Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa as Cabinet Secretary for Water and Irrigation Services as part of a shake-up in government.
According to information verified from multiple sources, Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wamalwa met a few weeks ago at President Kenyatta’s private home next to State House.
One of Mr Mudavadi’s aides familiar with details of the meeting told the Sunday Nation that President Kenyatta offered both Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wamalwa Cabinet positions in his government as he sought to wrestle the Western bloc from the Opposition. Mr Mudavadi is associated with UDF, which has been seeking to rebrand, while Mr Wamalwa is linked to New Ford Kenya.
“(Mr) Wamalwa was offered a Cabinet position which he accepted but Musalia (Mr Mudavadi) politely declined,” said the aide, who is privy to the private meeting.
Mr Mudavadi, who unsuccessfully ran for President in the 2013 elections, argued that he was willing to support the government from outside. Weeks to the elections, Mr Mudavadi had apparently reached a deal to run on the Jubilee ticket but the decision was later rescinded in unclear circumstances.
Mr Mudavadi’s spokesman, Mr Kibisu Kabatesi, was, however, non-committal about the meeting.
“Why is Mr Mudavadi’s name always being dragged to such things whenever there is talk of Cabinet reshuffle? There are also rumours that he wants to join (the Opposition) Cord. Who is this that is spreading propaganda about Mr Mudavadi and what do they aim to achieve? Mr Mudavadi is comfortable outside the government,” Mr Kabatesi told the Sunday Nation.
State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu also remained guarded about the meeting between President Kenyatta and Mr Mudavadi, saying he cannot comment on all meetings the President holds.
Later Mr Mudavadi, through Mr Kabatesi, came out to support the reshuffle saying “The current nominations are the first serious high level ones since Jubilee came to power. This kind approach is what I and indeed Cord have been advocating for. It is hypocrisy for elements in Cord or any one to disparage. Instead we must ask the President not relapse in old habits of exclusion that have been the hallmark of his administration.”
President Kenyatta on Friday hived off the department of water from Prof Judy Wakhungu’s Environment ministry and the department of irrigation from suspended Agriculture Secretary Felix Koskei to create the new Ministry of Water and Irrigation Services.
“Cognisant of the need to focus attention on water as a driver of agricultural development, I have created a Ministry of Water and Irrigation Services. I have nominated the Hon Eugene Wamalwa as the Cabinet Secretary,” a statement from State House said.
The creation of the new ministry to accommodate Mr Wamalwa in the government now brings the number of ministries to 19.
Article 152 (d) of the constitution provides that the Cabinet consists of not fewer than 14 and not more than 22 cabinet secretaries, excluding the President, Deputy President and Attorney-General.
This means that with 19 ministries following the appointment of Mr Wamalwa, there are still three more Cabinet positions that President Kenyatta can create or carve out from the existing ones.
There is also talk that some of the suspended Cabinet Secretaries who are being investigated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission could be relieved of their duties after the expiry of the 60-day ultimatum given by the President. President Kenyatta tabled a report that had wide-ranging corruption allegations against public officials during his State of the Nation Address to the National Assembly last month.
Mr Mudavadi’s name has continued to feature in Jubilee circles despite having vied against Mr Kenyatta at the 2013 General Election.
As President-elect, Mr Kenyatta had met and held talks with four of the seven other presidential candidates just a week after the elections were concluded in 2013. Those who met then President-elect Kenyatta at his private residence in Nairobi were Mr Mudavadi, Paul Muite, Mohammed Dida and Prof James ole Kiyiapi.
At the meeting, Mr Mudavadi had pledged to cooperate with the Jubilee administration and even urged then President-elect to take appropriate steps to ensure all Kenyans felt they are part of the new government.
That meeting gave birth to a post-election co-operation agreement between Jubilee coalition and Mr Mudavadi’s 2013 political vehicle UDF. In Parliament one of Mr Mudavadi’s allies, Ben Washiali, was elected Majority Deputy Chief Whip.
But that co-operation has lately come under strain with Mr Mudavadi at one time announcing that the country did not need hegemonic parties.
“As a party, we don’t have any pact with Jubilee. What is there is cooperation on certain aspects,” he said early this year.
With three years to the next General Election in 2017, the Sunday Nation understands that Mr Mudavadi is keen to popularise his newly registered Amani National Congress (ANC) and he feared that a Cabinet position will restrict him from achieving his political objectives. ANC, according to a provisional registration certificate that Sunday Nation has obtained, was registered last month.
While Mr Mudavadi is working to resurrect his political career and rejuvenate his base ahead of the next elections after the dismal showing in 2013 elections, President Kenyatta is looking to gain a foothold in the western region.