Kenya’s political scene has been treated to unending comedy for the last one week as Musalia Mudavadi’s UDF and Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA haggled on who between the two DPMs should be the Jubilee Coalition presidential candidate. The drama has seen a convention set to help make the decision postponed twice in less than 24 hours.
The question lingering in every political mind is whether it was, in the first place, a good idea for Uhuru and his preferred running-mate William Ruto, as at December 3, to bring in the Sabatia MP. It is not lost to many of the likely political damage that their hastily convened marriage with Mudavadi has done to their coalition which had already been embraced by their supporters as was evident in Afraha on December 2.
The two gentlemen must now be looking at the shortest-serving vice-president as a liability despite having worked with him during the Moi-Kanu era. But more importantly, one would wonder why Mudavadi cannot make a decision on what mode of nomination he prefers in Jubilee even after having gone public before that he would love a contest involving delegates.
Mudavadi and his UDF team have been asking that Uhuru and Ruto give him what they promised despite the Jubilee Coalition agreement stating that there would be a contest for the top position. It would not be surprising that the two men have gone back on their word, given the backlash that they have received from their backyards for selling to them one thing on December 2 and making a boardroom deal on December 4.
It could be true that Uhuru and Ruto had promised Mudavadi the presidential nomination if he joined them. But it remains as such – a promise or rather a gentleman’s agreement. The only binding and legally sound agreement is the coalition instrument that was deposited at Lucy Ndungu’s office on December 4.
Many must be bothered by why Mudavadi refuses to participate in a nomination involving delegates and yet this was one of the things he advocated for before bolting out of ODM. It is also not lost to observers that when ODM said it was amending the rules to allow for contest, Mudavadi jumped ship claiming it would not be a fair contest.
So, is the Sabatia man afraid of competition? Or is he used to getting his political way around with minimal contest? And isn’t he proving to be a liability to UhuRuto?
When it comes to numbers, Mudavadi really doesn’t bring much to Jubilee from his backyard even if he was the presidential candidate. The Western bloc that he hails for has never voted as a unit and appears to be headed in the same direction this time round. Even, the “untrusted” opinion polls have compounded the theory that Mudavadi does not even command 50% of the Western support whether he is a presidential candidate or not.
Politics is a game of numbers and perception. Both of which are not working in favour of Mudavadi.
Even going by the 2007 voter’s register and assuming that Kenyans maintain their regional voting patterns, one can only safely allocate three Counties – Kakamega, Vihiga and Busia to Mudavadi. And even here, you can not assure him of the 1.1 million voters that were in the register in 2007.
On the other hand, if you allocate the Counties that Kibaki got at least 65% of the votes in 2007 to Uhuru, the Gatundu MP can be assumed to be holding command of 10 Counties. These Counties – Nyeri, Muranga, Laikipia, Nakuru, Nyandarua, Kirinyaga, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu and Muranga – had a total of 4 million voters.
Assuming that the ODM supporters in the Counties of Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi, Baringo, Bomet and Kericho have turned to URP, Ruto still commands a larger voter basket than Mudavadi at 1.4 million as per the 2007 register.
At the end of the day, UhuRuto must consider whether their friend Mudavadi is a liability or an asset to their union.