Over the last few months, Deputy President William Ruto has been taunting the opposition Cord to name its presidential flagbearer for next year’s elections.
In a sustained campaign message, the DP has painted his and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s main challengers as ineffective and confused.
Time and time again across the country, Mr Ruto has publicly asked, sometimes in what appears to be derogatory terms, who among the opposition leaders will vie for the presidency: “Atakuwa ni huyu ambaye tunasikia eti anapigwa na bibi yake au yule mwingine wa kupitia katikati, ama ni yule jamaa tunaambiwa amebaki na risasi moja (Will it be the one alleged to have been beaten by his wife, the one who squeezes himself between the rest, or this other one whom we hear has only one bullet left)?”
But if documents seen by the Sunday Nation work out as planned, Mr Ruto and Jubilee may have to rephrase this refrain apparently targeted at Cord leaders Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper) and Raila Odinga (ODM) to include Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi.
As Jubilee consolidates its base nine months to the General Election, some in the opposition have been proposing a National Super Alliance.
“The alliance isn’t your typical political coalition seeking power for the sake of it. It is a vehicle to unite the Kenyan peoples, regions, political parties and other organised and informal groups,” Mr Mudavadi told the Sunday Nation.
But the former deputy prime minister, who is the prime mover of the super alliance, is the only significant politician willing to publicly discuss the idea.
The rest are playing their cards close to the chest. Mr Odinga has previously welcomed the idea but he remains evasive on details. Three-days by the Sunday Nation trying to interview him on the issue came to nought.
Similarly, Mr Musyoka, a former vice-president, declined to open up on the alliance, instead referring the Sunday Nation to Mr Mudavadi: “Of course I am not averse to it (the alliance) because I have already heard about it from other quarters, including in the press. But I do not wish to discuss a matter that I am not well versed with and which nobody has approached or talked to me about.”
Mr Wetang’ula, the Senate Minority Leader, did not immediately respond to our enquiries. But speaking on Friday at Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos County during a Ford Kenya National Executive Committee cum Parliamentary Group meeting, Mr Wetang’ula said that Cord was reaching out to Mr Mudavadi to form a bigger alliance.
“We are not in a hurry to nominate a candidate. We want a Tsunami that hits and hits hard,” he said.
He recalled the 2002 elections that brought Narc candidate Mwai Kibaki to power and warned that a similar alliance would be formed to face Jubilee in the 2017 elections.
Dr Boni Khalwale, the Secretary-General of his Ford-Kenya party and Kakamega senator, was guarded in his response. Even though he said the idea was “excellent, he admitted “we have very limited information” on the alliance.
Mr Musyoka recently expressed discomfort at the open and premature disclosure of the existence of the alliance. His concern was that Jubilee would scuttle the plans.
Mr Mudavadi is said to have reserved the name and acronym with the Registrar of Societies. According to documents seen by the Sunday Nation, the alliance is clear that it’s key objective will be “to sponsor joint-presidential candidate and win the 2017 General Election”. This, it is hoped, would be driven by those dissatisfied by Jubilee’s work.
The other objective is to “remove Jubilee from office through democratic means and provide an accountable leadership that will restore hope among Kenyans.” Authors of the alliance documents also cite Jubilee’s perceived ethnicised establishment that has mainly favoured the President’s and Deputy President’s ethnic groups in appointments to top positions in government.
The alliance talks of forming a government of “inclusivity” and providing hope to Kenyans “based on transparency, accountability, participation, devolution of power and resources, equal opportunity and equity for all”.
The document says that “Kenya under Jubilee administration is on its deathbed and should be rescued from bad governance and corruption.”
It talks of Jubilee “building political dynasties and monarchs, ethnic duopoly and exclusion, economic recession and ballooning national debt, human rights abuses and poor international image and the ‘hustler mentality’ and desperation.”
The most revealing detail about the alliance’s political strategy is contained in the clause on constitution amendment “to provide for greater executive accountability to Parliament and pursue comprehensive devolution”.
This can be interpreted to mean that the alliance may reintroduce the position of prime minister and two deputies after the polls to accommodate all the key players.
These include Mr Odinga, Mr Mudavadi, Mr Musyoka and Mr Wetang’ula. There has also been talk of getting Baringo Senator Gideon Moi and Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto on board.
Mr Mudavadi explains the Constitutional amendment is because of the need to restructure the government to enable it function smoothly.
The Amani leader believes that the presidential system of government adopted in 2010 has created a disconnect between the central and county governments.
With its founders indicating it is based on issues that resonate with the public, the alliance hopes to replicate the political feat realised by the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) which in the 2002 General Election ended the ruling party Kanu’s 40-year-old rule.
Then, as now, Mr Kenyatta (Kanu’s presidential candidate in 2002) was the targeted victim.
But this time there are more hurdles to be overcome. Already there is disquiet in Cord on who should “swallow” who.
Mr Khalwale, for instance, says Mr Mudavadi and other players should join the Cord family, from where they can then build a single opposition outfit: “It does not matter whether we shall call that entity ‘Super Cord’ or ‘Cord Alliance’ but we must work from one existing political roof.”
MAJOR IMPEDING CHALLENGE
The Kakamega senator also hints at a major impeding challenge of identifying a flag bearer. He believes the three Cord co-principals stand a better chance than any other candidate.
Political Science lecturer at the University of Dodoma, Tanzania, Prof Amukowa Anangwe, believes that the alliance will neither be super nor an alliance.
“It may be an assembly of inchoate elements whose leaders are incapable of reconciling their separate political ambitions and crafting an ideology to captivate the masses. The centre of the alliance is unlikely to hold together and, therefore, things may fall apart eventually,” he says.
But judging from its drive and the composition of its membership that includes some of Kenya’s political bigwigs, Dr Adams Oloo, who is chairman of the Political Science and Public Administration department at the University of Nairobi, believes the alliance should hold, but believes Jubilee is likely to scuttle the plan.
Prof Anangwe, envisages three scenarios: the reincarnation of the defunct Amani Coalition previously headed by Mr Mudavadi; ODM’s refusal to join the grouping, a situation which, without Mr Odinga, will make the alliance be like an egg without a yolk; or irreconcilable political interests could block teaming up.
“The so-called Super Alliance may not fly and Kenyans should not be diverted from the likely scenario that 2017 will be a two-horse race between Uhuru (Mr Kenyatta) and Raila (Mr Odinga),” the academic, who is a former Cabinet minister, says.
Nonetheless, the two political scientists are in agreement that the alliance poses a realistic change to Jubilee.
“Virtually all key players within the alliance formation have at one point or the other been cheated or politically short-changed by the Executive. As they say once bitten twice shy, meaning it will not be easy for the incumbent leadership to break through the the alliance team,” says Dr Oloo.