A few weeks ago, I had a conversation in Nairobi with a friend, an ODM assistant minister and soon the conversation came to discussing whether Raila should keep or drop Mudavadi as his running mate in 2012.
My friend has the pulse of Western politics and I consider him an authority on it over others even from the area.
During the Ikolomani by-election, my friend wanted ODM to back Khalwale but he was outnumbered by others involved in making the final decision.
Soon after the elections, and after Khalwale won, my friend, of course, said “I told you; you should have listened to me!”
My friend and I were on the same page on this but we both fully know and understand politics is not an exact science; sometimes even the best of leaders make the best call but end up missing the mark.
It’s not the missing that matters but lessons learned.
Raila and ODM are now faced with yet another difficult decision:
Should Raila keep Mudavadi as his running mate or should he drop him and pick someone else?
Whichever decision Raila makes, it’s prone to put him on a path full of traps and pitfalls he must successfully maneuver to avoid falling into the pit of being fatally snapped.
In the discussion I had with my friend mentioned above, I told him it was my view Raila should replace Mudavadi as running mate but emphasized should this be done, it should be done fully with the blessing of Mudavadi himself otherwise it should not be done at all for obvious reasons, chief being, a wounded Mudavadi ego by Raila is more dangerous to Raila’s presidential plans and ODM than all G7 characters combined.
I have also shared my views on this issue with a handful of other individuals I sometimes discuss such issues with, including one I know is close to Mudavadi but this individual gave me absolutely no indication one way or the other about Mudavadi’s own views on this issue.
I don’t blame him; you can’t find big enough a crow-bar to beat me with sufficiently enough to have me disclose something I hold in confidence.
I have just read with interest Prof. Prof. Makau Mutua’s article in which he makes the case that Raila should drop Mudavadi as his running mate in favor of former Kabete MP Paul Muite.
Mutua essentially provides regional balancing as the primary reason Raila should make this move, but in addition to, and right up there with this, Makau also provides the possibility of Raila’s likelihood of harvesting more votes from the Eastern and ostensibly the former Central province as the other reason Raila should drop Mudavadi and pick Muite.
Mutua notes he has great respect for Mudavadi but he believes it is in the interest of Raila’s re-election (my word) that he steps aside in favor of Muite but Mutua hastens to emphasize that such substation cannot be made haphazardly.
Mutua suggests a soft landing point for Mudavadi such an assurance for election as governor of Nairobi County.
“Kenya isn’t ‘mature enough’ to accept a President and Deputy President from the same region. That’s why Mr Mudavadi – a ‘westerner’ – must be sacrificed for an ‘easterner,’”says Mutua.
Mutua’s arguments mirror precisely the same arguments I have been making with my friends above, except for one major difference:
Besides regional balancing and the “Central” factor, I have been arguing that gender balance should equally be a factor in Raila deciding whether or not to drop Mudavadi as his running mate.
After having time to think and reflect on this for some time, and having evaluated all the known knowns—borrowing from Rumsfield, the man many including yours truly loathed as US Secretary of Defence, I have come to the conclusion Raila should not drop Mudavadi as his running mate.
I do so for several reasons:
First, and almost without saying, Raila cannot drop Mudavadi as his running mate against the latter’s will for doing so, as I have noted above, will create fatalistic obstacles and traps for Raila which he may not successfully maneuver around to reach victory.
Second, even though it’s conceivable that Mudavadi may, in fact, be persuaded to step aside and be replaced by someone else, and willingly albeit reluctantly do so, everything I am looking at suggests doing so would not bring with an advantage for Raila and ODM significantly enough to warrant the risk of doing so in lieu of keeping Mudavadi as VP.
Although regional balancing is important as Makau correctly points out, I disagree that “Kenya isn’t “mature enough” to accept a President and Deputy President from the same region,” as Makau argues.
Quite the contrary, I believe we have matured sufficiently enough to embrace tectonic transformational changes, including how we vote notwithstanding the relative youthfulness of our new found democracy.
The new constitution provides ample foundation to bring about these changes as shall be witnessed by election of our first president with true nationwide support and backing come next year.
And therein lies the open secret to Raila’s key to resolving the VP slot dilemma: the constitution.
The fear of having a president and vice-president from the same region in the old political order, was because it was assumed and the constitution, in fact, made it all but certain that the VP would become the next sure-in president were something to happen to the prudent, which in people’s mind this meant death and nothing less because (1) there was no presidential term limits then so the inclination was to believe only by death were the president were to cease to be president, re-election being guaranteed by rigging and of course (2) no illness was bad enough not to be shielded from the public and (3) further of course, there was no such a thing as impeachment.
Our new constitution removes all these grounds of fear for regional domination.
We of course, have presidential term limit carried over from the old constitution but the fear for president and vice-president coming from the same region pre-date adoption of term limits.
The very existence of the term limit provision therefore continues to mitigate against fear or concerns for domination by one region, unlike the case before its passage which was the height of such concerns.
We now also have impeachment provisions in place to remove a president no longer fit to be president.
Under the new constitutional scheme of things, the VP assumes and serves the rest of the president’s term, but he has to seek a new mandate from the electorate in the next general election therefore putting his position in no better position than the replaced president would have been, which further means there is no net difference whether the president and VP come from the same region:
Had there not been a replacement and president run for re-election and won, no difference as the VP running and being elected full term.
There may be a difference going to the issue on total number of years the VP may serve as president, 10years or 12year and 6 months but that’s a distinction without a difference as to the issue of whether the president and VP coming from the same region is a serious impediment for vying.
These two provisions (term limit and impeachment) therefore ensure we shall no longer have presidents for life, followed by a successor for life from the same region, if that’s who is his or her vice president, which was a main concern before.
Given this, it is my view regionalism is no longer a fear factor as it otherwise would have been therefore Mudavadi being Raila’s VP is not a liability in terms of electability as a duo.
Third, the regional balance factor has already been tested and proven not an impeding factor, anway; Case in point: 2007.
Raila was elected as president with Mudavadi as his VP in 2007.
Although the circumstances are not the same, it is the case I don’t see why the same team cannot go back to the drawing board, make some adjustments from the 2007 winning strategy and come with another winning strategy for 2012, which replicates or even improves upon the 2007 results.
Although I would love to get into what that strategy should be, I leave this out for obvious reasons.
Third, it is far much easier for Raila to convince more voters from East and Central to vote for him in sufficient numbers to overcome any loses elsewhere than Raila convincing voters in Western province why he has dropped Mudavadi, regardless of the perfectly reasonable reasons behind such a move and regardless of Mudavadi’s own blessing for the move.
Again, details as to why are not necessary for obvious reasons.
Suffice to say this, though: the G7 or whatever entity emerges as major opponent of Raila and Wamalwa will have a field day in the region condemning the move (dropping Mudavadi) anything Raila or Mudavadi says or do will simply be drowned in the noise or ignored.
It goes without saying Raila cannot afford to have any area that heavily went for him in 2007 hemorrhaging votes; loose some, yes, but no hemorrhage.
A Mudavadi substitution will in all likelihood result in hemorrhaging of votes lost in Western and in numbers that cannot be recovered from elsewhere.
Fourth, the only way in my view substituting Mudavadi could pay dividends, is if the substitution is for a woman, to provide gender balance.
Gender balance, however, presents a series of its own concerns and considerations which on balance, in my view, there are more pitfalls there than those Raila has to face in tackling regional balance.
Some of these involve the obvious like the obvious women VP candidates cannot be named for any number of reasons I can’t get into now and these women are: Hon. Charity Ngilu; Hon. Hon. Martha Karua; Justice Njoki Ndungu (yes she can serve as VP and then P but she’ll really have to roll the dice on that one before saying yes to the run), or some un-ubiquitous woman but that by itself would be enough reason not to pick her: the above mentioned pack will rally all the women against the team!
Better you go with the known than unknown on this one.
We experimented and succeeded with the Supreme Court CJ but one will be pushing their luck to try the same with the Executive.
Substitution of Mudavadi for a woman is therefore not desirable either.
This leaves Mudavadi the ideal VP candidate, in my view, everything considered.
This is going to be a close call either way and the margin of error allowed is so thin, I fully concur with Makau that, in this case, Raila must choose “very, very wisely.”
I am of course optimistic that he will and pray that he, in fact, does so.
Peace, Love and Unity