Why Musalia Mudavadi was forced to surrender NASA coalition outfit
Deep suspicions and political mistrust among Opposition leaders that almost aborted the formation of the National Super Alliance (NASA) can now be laid bare by The Standard.
Documents and multiple interviews corroborate reports of political intrigues and activities among NASA co-principals Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, and Moses Wetang’ula before they could agree to sign a coalition agreement on February 22 this year in preparation for the August 8 polls.
At the heart of the dispute were fears of a repeat of the 2007 acrimonious split that saw Kalonzo take off with ODM-Kenya, leaving Raila’s camp to scout for a new outfit in a last-minute rush.
Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) co-principals Raila, Kalonzo, and Wetang’ula were reluctant to abandon their outfit for a new coalition that had already been registered by Mr Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC). They cited the risk of being ejected from the party in the event of a fallout since Mudavadi enjoyed ownership rights.
At the same time, Wiper Party suspected that NASA was a Raila idea to dodge the 2013 memorandum of understanding (MoU) that envisioned the former premier’s support for Kalonzo in this year’s polls.
The suspicions were so deep-rooted that even after displaying a united front on January 11 at Bomas of Kenya, Wetang’ula dismissed any talks of joining NASA the following day.
A series of private meetings among the four leaders, some at Raila’s Karen home, managed to allay some of the fears raised. Reports that the Jubilee Party, through proxies, was also making attempts to register the party so as to block the formation of the Opposition alliance pushed Mudavadi and his allies to convince the Raila camp to join the coalition.
“The first formal meeting over the name was between Raila and Mudavadi before they travelled together to Laikipia on December 6, 2016,” said an insider in the NASA formation. “The meeting raised anxiety in CORD, forcing Kalonzo and Wetang’ula to convene a meeting. Mudavadi would later that week meet Kalonzo and Wetang’ula together and explain to them the idea behind the coalition,” added the source.
Mudavadi again during that week held a meeting with Wetang’ula in Karen at a hotel owned by a Luhya businessman.
The leaders later agreed to join NASA but Mudavadi had to surrender the name so that all the four partners could be on the same footing in the outfit. And on the eve of February 22, when the leaders were set to sign the coalition agreement, ANC Secretary-General Godfrey Osotsi surrendered the name through a letter to the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP).
Barely had the letter been received by the Registrar’s office than lawyer Norman Magaya, who was then acting as the NASA chief executive officer, wrote to ORPP to reserve the surrendered name. “Kindly reserve for us the above name pursuant to the letter of surrender of name by the Amani National Congress dated February 21, 2017, and signed by its secretary-general, Mr Godfrey Osotsi,” reads the letter.
The letter was copied to Senator James Orengo (ODM), Senator Johnson Muthama (Wiper), MP Eseli Simiyu (Ford Kenya), and MP Sakwa Bunyasi (ANC), all co-chairs of the NASA management board.
“Your application has been considered as required by law and the name The National Super Alliance (NASA) has been approved,” says the letter dated February and signed by Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u. But the Opposition has yet to overcome a litany of challenges facing their quest to battle President Uhuru Kenyatta through a united front.
Northern Advocacy for Sustainable Agriculture, also known as NASA in the files of the NGO Coordination Board, wants the Raila-Kalonzo-Mudavadi-Wetang’ula team blocked from registering NASA as a political party. The NGO has gone to court seeking orders to stop the Registrar of Political Parties from registering the coalition.
Mr Osotsi Monday termed the setback as Jubilee’s continued efforts to scuttle the Opposition alliance, which he said would fail, just like the initial attempts by Jubilee. The idea of forming a super alliance was mooted around May 2016, just after the killing of controversial businessman Jacob Juma.
Sources within ANC indicate that the party’s strategy team thought of registering NASA as a coalition. The idea was, however, jolted as they needed at least two parties for a coalition. “ANC Secretary-General Osotsi was later instructed by Mudavadi to work out a means to reserve the name for fear of it being registered,” said the source. On October 24, 2016, Osotsi through S.W. Ndegwa & CO Advocates, wrote to ORPP seeking to reserve the National Super Alliance (NASA) and Super Alliance (SA) names.
SA was declined while NASA’s registration was given the green light and ANC proceeded to reserve the name. The reservation marked the start of intense lobbying by Mudavadi to bring on board like-minded parties to facilitate its registration. As the push and pull went on, ANC kept renewing the reservation every month to avoid having the name taken over by another group.