An Open Letter To Hon. Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi, Deputy Prime Minister, E.G.H., M.P.
Dear Hon. Mudavadi:
Needless to say, your political journey has been and continues to be very interesting, to say the least.
You served as one of our country’s youngest ministers back in 1989, having succeeded your late father as M.P. for Sabatia and you have now made your way to serving as our Deputy Prime Minister.
You also to this day remain the holder of the dubious title of “Shortest Serving Vice President” in our country.
Indeed, many had politically written you off, following the 2002 elections in which the country loudly said no to you and then KANU presidential candidate and now fellow Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.
To be fair and in hindsight, that was more about ending the Moi regime than a reflection of you individually beyond your decision to accept the VP running mate position—something many a politician of the day would have done, anyway.
To your wisdom and wise counsel, however, you regrouped in time and aligned yourself with the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) where having received 391 votes to Raila’s 2,656 for party nomination, Raila made you his running mate for the 2007 elections.
The rest, as they say, is history but a few things need to be noted:
First, you have served the country well as one of our two Deputy Prime Ministers.
Indeed, a convincing case can be made you have served more effectively and accomplished more as DPM than your colleague Uhuru Kenyatta.
Second, unlike many in your situation, you have not carried yourself as one who believes holding public office is an entitlement by virtue of family background.
Instead, you have curved yourself a path to political and business success not necessarily all owing to the fact you were born to privilege but in spite of it.
No one can say, however, that your rise to where you are has not been due to that very fact of your family background.
That you have been the beneficiary of a privileged family background is true but there is nothing wrong with that and neither is it something not to be proud of as many others born to same or similar background have either wasted away or otherwise not accomplished much in life.
Third, you are once again placed in a situation where you must draw upon the same wisdom and counsel as you did back in 2005 when you decided to warm up-to and join ODM albeit with one major distinction:
The decision you must make now is far more delicate and complicated at the same time than the one you had to make back in 2005 which few would disagree was the only wise decision you could have made at that time were you to have any chance of reviving yourself politically.
The decision you must make now is whether or not to aggressively seek ODM nomination and therefore the presidency of our country.
The prevailing wisdom between and among most ODM members and supporters, is that you should not challenge Raila for ODM nomination.
You have stated a desire to do the opposite, namely, to challenge Raila for the nomination and have couched your desire to do this under a need to have “internal democracy” within ODM.
Some who are opposed to your quest to challenge Raila fear you are either compromised by Raila’s and ODM enemies or that you are being misled to believing you can win the presidency when, in fact, your chances of winning the presidency are far much less than Raila’s, given any objective analysis of the current political climate and dynamics.
To be sure, the one reason that is being cited by those egging you on to challenge Raila for the ODM nomination, and therefore the presidency, is that you are the more electable of the two, given the plight Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto face.
For your part, you have said—and one must take you for your word—that all you seek, is simply to offer a choice to ODM members in who should be the party’s flag-bearer and proceed to seek the presidency on that basis, if given the nod.
However, this begs the question, why?
When one talks of democracy, this requirement is satisfied in the ODM nomination process because when you and Raila presented yourselves for nomination in 2007, the party spoke and Raila was chosen Party Leader and you were by virtue of having garnered the next highest votes, made the Deputy Party Leader.
These are life-time elections unless one so elected acts or does not act in a manner not befitting one holding those positions or otherwise becomes a liability for the party such that removing him or her or seeking a fresh mandate is desirable.
Neither you nor Party Leader Raila Odinga has acted or failed to act in a manner not befitting your positions therefore seeking a new mandate from party members is neither desirable nor warranted.
It is a fallacy of the worst kind to argue that not seeking a fresh mandate under these circumstances is inconsistent or contrary to the ideals of democracy.
Far from it and all one needs to do, is to survey other countries and one would readily find that party leaders are rarely challenged and the only time there is any serious contention as to nomination for party flag-bearer, is when there is no incumbency.
In all other times, there may be challenges here and there but they are often token or from the extreme end of the party’s ideological spectrum—a wing which is never satisfied unless the party nominates one of their own and therefore ensuring handy defeat in the general elections where such extreme candidates never win.
There is a reason this is the case, namely, why party leaders are rarely challenged and that is, party unity, cohesion and continuity.
A party is well served in galvanizing its resources and focusing on its real opponents and that is those who seek to diminish or defeat them at every turn and every resource or energy expended fighting useless fights within the party distracts from this mission and is almost always counterproductive no matter how noble the fight may be.
It is also poignant that, in politics, when you see your political opponent—and we are here talking from the perspective of the party—cheering you or egging you to undertake any particular action or not to, know fully well that is always never in the interest of your party but is always in favor of their party or interests.
Some of those gleefully cheering you on to challenge Raila for the nomination are Raila’s political enemies and opponents and the last thing they want to see is you being elected president either!
This fact alone should give you pause.
Unless, of course, you believe that you have a shot at dethroning Raila in ODM and doing a double to vanquish those scheming daily to defeat him—and you by extension—in which case the question you must ask yourself and answer wisely is, at what expense?
There are those within ODM who genuinely but perhaps naively believe that you should challenge Raila if anything to say you are your own man.
You would be wise to tell them first, you are your own man and have proven so many times over and, it’s not your manhood but nationhood at stake.
A protracted albeit even mild battle for ODM nomination would irreversibly harm ODM and doubly so when the net-gain in terms of effort alone will be negligible.
It would also potentially weaken ODM and therefore potentially produce a victory for anti-Railaists and ODM opponents who there is little doubt what they stand for and that is, nothing but “stopping” Raila, status quo and reversal of progress we have made as a country in reforms.
Your challenging Raila must therefore be seen from this prism.
In other words, your challenging Raila but ultimately not garnering enough votes to topple him as Party Leader would not have made ODM more democratic than it is and even if you were to somehow succeed in doing so, your success will only be deemed a net-gain in democracy only if the process is deemed not having been interfered with from the outside by Raila’s enemies—something one cannot rule out under these circumstances, in which case it will be less democratic and therefore more problematic for ODM and therefore the country going forward.
In light of all of these considerations, I in behalf of many others who have great respect for you and your wisdom, urge you to do the right thing and that is, simply focus on having Team ODM once again triumph at the polls in 2012 and leave the quest for the presidency for another time.
If you must challenge Raila, then do so in a manner that does not damage the party and its prospects for 2012, which is not an easy thing to do for any number of reasons not the least of which is mischief with or without your tacit approval and thus the reason it makes more sense not to even bother and instead focus on party unity and popularization.
With ODM’s success at the polls and Raila being re-elected as president, the pathway to your presidency is that more certain and deservedly so.
Samuel N. Omwenga, Esq.