ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi is quietly shifting focus to his 2022 presidential bid even as he and NASA colleagues push for electoral justice over the last election.
Mudavadi, who was Raila’s chief campaigner in the last election, and is said to be unenthusiastic about the swearing-in plans, has held several strategy meetings since December to discuss his future.
He is also keen to identify electoral reforms that will be conducive to fair elections in 2022 when he will be a candidate.
Mudavadi’s handlers want to position the former deputy Prime Minister as Deputy President William Ruto’s main challenger in 2022.
This comes amid confusing signals from Central Kenya opinion leaders that Ruto’s support is not guaranteed in Mt Kenya region, where he is seen as the front-runner to succeed his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mudavadi’s strategists believe that NASA and ODM leader Raila Odinga will not contest the presidency again and therefore he is better placed to inherit his support base.
But it will be no walkover for Mudavadi as other NASA leaders, Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula, have also made clear they are in the race.
Several ANC officials told the Star yesterday that they have identified a number of key politicians to tap and give the party a national outlook.
The party plans to create new positions — among them four deputy party leaders, four vice chairmen and an expanded executive — to accommodate various interests.
Some of the leaders being considered — or who have been spoken to but are yet to accept the offers — are former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo who, if he accepts, will become one of the four deputy leaders. He would represent Central Kenya.
Also in the loop is former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero who will join former Cabinet minister Kipruto arap Kirwa as deputy party leader.
Former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama is being earmarked for the position of chairman, while Boni Khalwale will be approached in coming days to become the party’s secretary for political affairs.
The party wants to create three other vice-chair positions that will be handed to people from other parts of the country, and they will join at a later date.
One of those being mentioned is former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara.
The party replaced secretary general Godfrey Osotsi, after he was nominated to Parliament, with media practitioner Barrack Muluka.
Apart from asking the individuals to join the party, ANC is also targeting leaders of small parties with which it hopes to forge working relationships.
They include Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu’s Narc and former Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto’s Chama Cha Mashinani.
Gideon Moi’s Kanu is part of the game plan, too.
It will be approached closer to the 2022 election with a view to working out an alliance, according to party sources.
Lugari MP Ayub Savula yesterday confirmed that although they are still firmly in NASA, “we have started putting our house in order.”
“We believe in NASA and the importance of pushing for electoral reforms. However, we also think that it is important that we strengthen our party,” Savula said.
Political realignments in western Kenya appear to have shifted after ANC clinched 11 of the region’s 33 parliamentary seats.
Until the last election, Raila’s ODM was the dominant party in Western Kenya but Mudavadi’s party won seats in the four counties in the August General Election.
In Kakamega, ANC won six parliamentary seats, including Senator.
Former Mahiakalo ward representative Cleophas Malala was elected senator alongside the MPs of Matungu, Lurambi, Lugari, Butere and Khwisero constituencies.
From the moment he was elected unopposed as Sabatia MP in 1989, following the death of his father, Mudavadi has cultivated the air of a calm, measured and cultured politician.
In some places, he is seen as a gentleman like former President Mwai Kibaki. Many observers were surprised by his more recent vocal and radical image as a NASA co-principal.
In 2007 Mudavadi ran as Raila Odinga’s deputy, having bounced back after five years out in the cold when he was floored in 2002 by little-known preacher Rev Moses Akaranga.
Then, Mudavadi had made the fatal mistake of bolting from a surging Opposition and running back to Kanu, where he was rewarded with the vice presidency.
After five years, he surged back as a member of the Orange Democratic Movement Pentagon, ganging up with allies opposed by President Daniel Moi, seen as his godfather. It was his dalliance with the Opposition and as Deputy Prime Minister in the Grand Coalition government (2007-2013) that and greatly elevated his stature.
In the dying days of the coalition government, and having been sidelined by senior ODM politicians from Nyanza, President Kibaki began sending signals to Mudavadi, as his preferred successor. This followed advice that Uhuru was an inappropriate choice because of his tribulations at the International Criminal Court.
Indeed, Uhuru even signed an MoU that would have made Mudavadi President, only to change his mind the next day. Stung, Mudavadi ran on his own and predictably lost in 2013, on the UDF party, criticised as a proxy of the system
He made a comeback in 2017, on a revamped ANC party ticket as a founder and co-principal of NASA, with his sights set on 2022.