Musalia Mudavadi: I’m leaving the door open for possible coalitions

Amani National Congress (ANC) chief Musalia Mudavadi is leaving the door open for possible coalitions in the backdrop of speculation that Deputy President William Ruto wants him to join his camp.

In an interview with the Daily Nation in Nairobi yesterday, Mr Mudavadi said the ANC National Delegates Congress (NDC) at Bomas of Kenya on January 23 would decide the political direction he will take.

“This is a special NDC so no elections will be conducted. But being the apex organ of the party, members will ratify the decision of the Amani council which includes endorsement of the presidential candidate,” he said.

“They will also sanction ANC to engage in coalition-building or negotiations with other parties. I  will then launch my manifesto.”

Dr Ruto is on record saying he is in formal talks with Mr Mudavadi. The ANC leader says the Constitution is clear on the freedom of association and expression.

“Even the Prime minister (ODM leader Raila Odinga) came to my mother’s funeral and said we may talk. So what do you want to make out of that?” he asked.

“If and when something has been concretised, I will never shy away from telling Kenyans.”

What should Kenyans expect in your manifesto?

I will speak much about this on the day but will not shy away from the fact that I have anchored a lot of my communication and campaign messages around the economy.

The economy is hurting and we need to focus on that. I will tell Kenyans that the economy is not sitting pretty and we must direct our energy into turning it around.

The recently published highlights of the economic survey that were released by the government showed poverty is on the increase.

Deputy President William Ruto has claimed you have been in talks and this could be the reason there is a perception you are working together despite being a One Kenya Alliance (OKA) principal. Is this so?

The former Prime minister also came to my mother’s funeral and said we know each other and we shall talk, that our parts might coincide.

What do you want to make of that?

If and when something has been concretised, I will never shy away from telling Kenyans what I think about particular positions.

I want to tell Kenyans that we must defend the freedom of association and expression. Basically, the Bill of Rights needs to be safeguarded. We should not muzzle people. We should not shy away from pronouncing decisions once they have been made.

Some of your MPs have jumped to Mr Odinga’s side while others have been joining Dr Ruto in his rallies. Does this worry you?

As I just said, there is freedom. But let me put it this way, if any member wishes to take a walk, frankly speaking, it is his democratic right. If that happens, the party will just go to its reservoir of members and identify alternatives.

If somebody wishes to sit elsewhere, they are free to do so and we will get their replacements. We are not holding them hostage and neither should they hold the party hostage.

Isn’t this tainting the your party’s image?

You are better of having a few committed and dedicated soldiers than 1,000 fellows who are ready to stab you in the back purporting to be loyalists.

What is the state of OKA talks and when is the alliance likely to name  presidential flagbearer?

The technical team is in Naivasha. They will do a report to be presented. That could be the final guideline for the ultimate decision that you keep waiting for.

But as far as we are concerned, what we are watching is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission timelines. Our pronouncement must be within the framework of those guidelines.

The Political Parties Bill is due for amendments and subject to what the Senate might say or change, they have clearly indicated that the filing or closure of coalition making is sometime in April and not February as earlier suggested.

We were clear that coalition making is not a walk in the park. It requires serious conversations. You cannot just sit under tree and assume you have formed a coalition.

Wiper and Kanu invited ODM to their NDCs, with Mr Odinga attended both functions. Will ANC follow suit?

That conversation is underway. It is the prerogative of parties but first, we must make sure the business of the day is done by members.

ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi speaking at Friends International Centre (FIC), Quakers Church on Ngong road, Nairobi on November 14, 2021./Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Does it concern you that ANC is working with Wiper and Kanu, which have post-election coalition and cooperation agreements with Jubilee respectively? And Jubilee is working with Mr Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja Movement.

They are best placed to respond to that. If I recall, they responded to that question not too long ago. What they have may not hold because we are going to a General Election.

What’s your timeframe for naming the OKA flagbearer?

That must be within the confines of IEBC deadlines. We are not in breach of any law.

One of the OKA principals – Moses Wetang’ula – said the alliance will have a presidential flagbearer by the end of this month. Is that true?

Many people make pronouncements and I cannot hold them back. Sometimes you are not with somebody when he makes a statement. We leave it at that.

What’s your game plan should some OKA members join other parties?

Let us cross the bridge when we get there. There has to be a conversation and parties can make their decisions after that conversation.

When you and other OKA principals visited National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi at his home last week, you alluded to the fact that there was a bigger coalition loading but Mr Muturi has different views. What’s your take?

I don’t know how to handle this because I was there and its only Muturi who spoke to the media.

His remarks were very specific,  that he was happy we paid him a courtesy call because he had been unwell.

He also said he was  going to have a meeting of his party and later – may be this month, have an NDC. The Speaker said he and others are open to talks.

So I may not comment on any other speculation beyond that.

Some OKA members feel that in a competitive nomination, you are likely to have an added advantage because Senator Wetang’ula and Mr Cyrus Jirongo who come from the same region as you, would support your bid. What is your comment?

We leave that to the technical committee to make its decision. But whoever is raising that should just look at the National Super Alliance (Nasa) situation back on 2017.

In the Nasa situation, Wetang’ula, Raila, Kalonzo and I were there. In the process, Raila was picked as the presidential flagbearer and Kalonzo his running mate.

What I am saying is that the decision was not made along ethnic lines.

Precedent was set earlier and the decision is not about the ethnic heritage of anybody. We have moved above that. We have demonstrated that we can move above that.

During the debate on the Political Parties Amendment Bill in the National Assembly, you appeared not to be on the same page with your Wiper colleagues especially on the timelines for coalition making. Were there no consultation amongst OKA members and lawmakers?

Consultations within OKA were made but you cannot prevent an MP from proposing amendments in accordance with parliamentary standing orders.

A bill goes to Parliament to be debated, corrected and strengthened, not to be rubber stamped.

Are you in a political crisis seeing your MPs, one whom was recently won a by-election switch parties?

This is politics. You cannot muzzle people. They will from time to time express themselves in different ways.
Are you telling me there have never been divergent views in Jubilee, ODM and other political parties?

Why are people making heavy weather out of divergent views emanating from ANC members? What’s the special interest?

I can name to MPs who belong to ODM but have divergent views. There are very many. In fact, the biggest chunk of Jubilee MPs have different views.

There are those in wiper and Ford Kenya too with different views.

What would it take Mudavadi to unite with Odinga or Ruto with whom he has worked with before?

Let me not lose focus. Our party NDC is coming and I want Kenyans to look forward to my statements and policies. I want to deviate from debating personalities.

Our friendship remains and from time to time, we can have divergent opinions on many matters.

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