Musalia Mudavadi: Is he the new face of Kenya’s opposition?

By Joel Muinde On Sun, 1 Sep, 2019 12:16 | 2 mins read
Musalia Mudavadi
Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi. PHOTO | K24 TV
Editor's Review
  • In the run up to the 2017 General Election, Musalia formed a political vehicle, the National Super Alliance (Nasa), to consolidate the opposition forces against the ruling Jubilee Party.
  • But Nasa seemed to have died with the Uhuru-Raila handshake that ended political hostilities  after two disputed presidential elections which the opposition lost.
  • With Raila 'in the government' after the truce, Musalia has picked up the mantle and projects himself as the new opposition leader. 

Things change, that has been one of Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi’s political campaign slogans, and sure they have changed for him.

In the run-up to the 2017 General Election, Musalia formed a political vehicle, the National Super Alliance (Nasa), to consolidate the opposition forces against the ruling Jubilee Party. It seemed at first to be a far-fetched idea that would come to nought.

But with the main opposition parties gunning for the coveted presidency, it soon dawned on the key players a split vote would only guarantee President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, a second term even before anyone could cast their ballot.

So they all flocked to Mudavadi’s Nasa, but each kept their party intact. Nasa included Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement, Moses Wetangula’s Ford Kenya and lastly, Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress.

Fast forward to early 2018 and things had dramatically changed.

Nasa seemed to have died with the Uhuru-Raila handshake that ended political hostilities and stalemate after two disputed presidential elections in which the opposition had lost.

Today, Mudavadi has reinvented his role as the opposition leader and seems to have an eye on the presidency come 2022.

Recently, the otherwise soft spoken and cautious former vice-president has been a hard-hitting critic of the Jubilee administration seeking to expose it for the slow war on corruption, penchant for borrowing and other shortcomings. He has not spared his former Nasa ally Raila either.

It is in that backdrop that Mudavadi on Sunday features as Anne Kiguta’s guest on K24 TV’s political show, Punchline.

Just last week and in a bold move, Mudavadi forayed into the Kibra seat by-election, a constituency perceived to be Raila’s backyard.

By unveiling his candidate, Eliud Owalo, a former aide of Odinga, Mudavadi seeks to go toe-to-toe with his former Nasa principal in bid to assert himself as Kenya’s real opposition leader.

But whether Mudavadi is an emerging political threat to those who are already being considered favourites in the 2022 presidential race is yet to be seen.

He has also sharply differed with Raila and Ekuru Aukot over the clamour for a referendum, saying the calls to change the Constitution are premature.

Aukot is pushing his Punguza Mizigo bill while Raila is banking on the Building Bridges Initiative report to recommend a referendum.

Goldenberg scandal

Even though his name has not been synonymous with corruption compared to other political figures who served in the former President Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki’s regimes, there are some questions left unanswered over his handling of the Goldenberg scandal in 1993 when he took over from the late Prof George Saitoti.

During his tenure, there was rampant manipulation of Treasury Bills market and looting of the Central Bank of Kenya through cheque fraud and cheque kiting.

Yes, he managed to stop the pilferage but some of the payments made to accounts linked to businessman Kamlesh Pattni were made while he was still in office.

How did such massive happen under his watch, and should he be held partly responsible for those financial crimes that nearly wrecked the country’s economy?

As Musalia enters the Punchline ring with Kiguta on Sunday at 9pm, will he still be standing after the blows!