A deputy in any leadership hierarchy is like a spare tire in that that just as one expects the spare tire to be ready at all times to replace a punctured one, so too is a deputy in leadership expected to be ready at all times to take over from the individual he or she is deputy if necessary.
Prior to becoming Deputy Prime Minister, Hon.Mudavadi previously served as our country’s Vice President under former President Moi, a position he also holds the dubious record as the shortest serving vice president in Kenya.
Was Mudavadi ready to take over as president, were the need to arise during his short stint as Vice-President?
We’ll never know for sure but can always either speculate or examine what the DPM did as Vice President to have a good idea as to whether he would have been ready and if so, what kind of president he would have become.
On the other hand, we also know even those not ready for the task, some rise to the occasion and you will never know how unprepared they were no matter how long they have been on notice the moment would come while others are incapable of doing so simply because they can’t.
A good case can be made Moi falls in the former category when he not so suddenly found himself president despite all manner of effort and schemes to stop him from succeeding our first president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
However, a more plausible case than otherwise can be made but for one Charles Mugane Njonjo, his presidency may not have survived past the initial 90 days guaranteed by the constitution.
The rest, as it’s said, is history.
As noted below, it’s doubtful Mudavadi could have equally succeeded Moi in the manner Moi succeeded Kenyatta for the same reasons that spell doom for his political career ahead.
First, Mudavadi did not become Vice President on merit and by that I mean in the traditional sense where a party leader picks or the party picks a qualified deputy who becomes a running mate and eventually a vice president, if the duo gets the nod from the people at the ballot.
Instead, Mudavadi was merely handpicked by Moi unarguably without any consideration of leadership ability but a blatant effort to implement the Uhuru Project as the pick was naively calculated to bring the Luhya vote on the UK tribal math column but the strategy backfired miserably.
Second, while there is nothing to speak of in terms of accomplishments as VP during his short stint as one, Mudavadi’s accepting the position so late in the game when the writing was on the wall that the Uhuru project was dead on arrival goes to show an inability to read the mood of the people and therefore lacking in an essential element of effective leadership, leave alone the presidency.
Third, prior to his appointment as VP, Mudavadi served as our country’s youngest minister after succeeding his late father and close friend of Moi, Moses Budamba Mudavadi, as the unopposed MP of Sabatia.
Neither appointment screams of leadership ability and more so another reason one would have to be inclined to believe Mudavadi could not have been ready for prime time back in 2002 had it become necessary.
Fourth, Mudavadi has not done anything readily significant or noticeable to demonstrate that he has emerged from the shadow of his past and that of Moi’s even after his political life was resurrected from the dead by none other than the man he now wants to challenge for both the nomination and presidency, PM Raila Amolo Odinga.
Fifth, any objective observer would have to agree even if one gives Mudavadi the benefit of doubt that his quest to challenge Raila for the ODM nomination has been in good faith and strictly as a matter of internal democratization of the party, the manner in which Mudavadi has gone about pursuing this has exposed him as an indecisive and weak leader which cannot be good for him regardless how this ends.
Indecisiveness and inability to mobilize even your own base are incurable leadership flaws that are neither inherited nor learned; they are just who you are and are never good at the top of any leadership.
All this must have people scratching their heads wondering why did Mudavadi even set out to do this?
When being a project of another makes more sense than any reason one can find, one can only but feel sorry for Mudavadi.
Nobody knows for sure how this will end but, a good bet is Mudavadi is in an unenviable position of being politically doomed regardless of the outcome.