In his DN column titled What Raila Should Consider In Choosing Running Mate, Prof. Makau Mutua argues that for ODM, “it’s time to exhale” and that “thank heavens Mudavadi is history.”
I disagree that it’s time for ODM to exhale and that neither do I see Mudavadi’s impending departure something to celebrate for ODM.
This is because it need not have been but since it has or shall, Raila and ODM must deal with it accordingly and consistent with their common end objective of once again sweeping the country at the polls.
This being politics we are talking about and specifically involving the master politician in Kenya himself by the name Raila Amolo Odinga, it would not surprise anyone someday that the man himself engineered the whole thing with the full blessing of Mudavadi himself to pave way for what I agree with the good professor to be “a free hand to make an inspired pick for running mate.”
I am merely speculating here and wouldn’t that be the engineering of the century were it to turn out to be that way, however.
I do agree with Prof. Makau that Mudavadi’s defection would be a double-edged sword for Dr. Odinga in that he must make as near perfect a pick for his replacement as running mate lest the whole thing blows in his face.
Unlike the professor, however, I am not worried or concerned with the PM listening to his “sycophants and underlings” because he is his own master strategist and rarely so in Kenyan politics.
As for who the best pick should be for Raila’s running mate, it’s worth noting what the ideal universal qualities of a vice president are:
First, he or she must obviously be someone ready to step in and effectively take over as president should the need ever arise—God forbid–during the presidency.
Second, he or she must be someone who is loyal and in every respect of that word.
Third, he or she must bring to the table something of value to help make the ticket a better one than the ticket being without him or her in comparison to all others.
These are the qualities by which Raila must evaluate each and every prospective candidate and whoever gets the most points as to each, gets the nod.
Prof. Makau says the Raila should not let tribal math determine the pick and I fully agree with him on that.
However, it’s important to note that, one of the considerations Raila or anyone for that matter must make, is regional balance which de facto means tribal consideration.
The way I have been saying is we must end tribalism as a major determinative factor in how we elect presidents.
This is because I don’t believe one can expect to have an electoral process in which tribe does not matter given the constitution itself recognizes and actually mandates that regional balance (read balanced tribal representation) is and must be a hurdle to overcome for anyone aspiring to be sworn as president.
In other words, benign tribal consideration is okay; it’s invidious tribal consideration that is evil and must be shunned by all.
If Raila considers having a Kale as his vice president to meet regional balance, then that’s quite alright.
If on the other hand, Raila’s opponents band together into a tribal outfit solely for the purpose of “stopping” Raila to be reelected president, then that’s wrong and condemnable as backward because we must elect leaders by virtue of their leadership ability, not by tribal affiliation.
Conversely, one cannot deny Raila or anyone for that matter a vote on the basis that he has not picked one of their own for his running mate as that, too, is wrong and condemnable as backward because people must realize we can only have one president and one vice president therefore every tribe cannot have one or both.
Rather, what should matter is that the one selected as the running mate meets the criteria stated above and nothing more or less.
Prof. Makau says it would be a “gargantuan political error” if Raila were to pick a Luhya running mate to replace Mudavadi with another Luhya because “there is no Luhya politician – except perhaps Speaker Kenneth Marende – who fits the bill.”
I disagree only because I am sure if the sole issue was “replacing” Mudavadi with another Luhya, there are several individuals who would fit the bill.
A whole community can simply not be devoid of capable leaders who can step in and hold the position of deputy party leader.
I will agree with the good professor, however, that Raila should not pick another Luhya albeit for a different reason and that is, regional balancing.
I also join Makau in rejecting the “Tribal mathematicians” argument that Raila must appease the Luhya by picking one of their number as running mate to make up for Mr Mudavadi’s “loss” or those arguing that Raila must pick a Kalenjin to swing Kalenjins from archrival Eldoret North MP William Ruto.
My thinking on this has been and continues to be there will be a major paradigm shift in Kenyan politics in 2012 brought about by none other than Raila himself such that the traditional tribal calculations will not be the major determinative factor in who we elect as our next president.
I know I have previously argued that Raila should not drop Mudavadi or that if he did so, he had to do it with his blessing lest he finds himself in deep trouble with the Luhya vote but, with Mudavadi basically showing himself the door, and despite spirited urging from his own backyard, his walking away is tantamount to telling Raila he has his blessing to pick whomever he pleases for his running mate.
In other words, Raila is not dropping Mudavadi as his running mate as I previously cautioned him not to but Mudavadi is dropping himself as one and all reasonable and objective Luhyas cannot possibly hold that against Raila nor can they not understand if they believe in Raila and ODM ideals, then so much the better getting a running mate from elsewhere to better balance the ticket.
The focus, that is, now must be regaining the presidency and with that comes the opportunity to implement the same ideals the community has all along anticipated will occur with the Raila presidency.
Nothing changes with the departure of Mudavadi.
The reality and truth is, Raila is far much better off with someone outside Luhyaland as his running mate and he need not go far than the Rift Valley to find someone to bring the more desirable regional balance.
Prof. Makau dismisses the notion of having someone from RV on grounds “none has the requisite credentials” and while crediting Dr. Sally Kosgey with “intellectual heft,” he nonetheless dismisses her as carrying Moi baggage while dismissing all other senior politicians from the region as being “heavily” compromised.
Both Dr. Sally Kosgey and Henry Kosgey are viable options Raila could easily pick as running mate under the criteria stated above, even though Dr. Kosgey may get a strike for the loyalty factor.
Henry Kosgey meets all of the three criteria and even though he does have a past some may argue as Makau does that puts him on the potentially “compromised” category, it is nothing insurmountable and the opposite is actually more plausible and that is, a compelling case can be made that he has if anything become a different breed of a politician almost on a class of his own.
Prof. Makau argues that the ICC charges for crimes against humanity that Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP face at The Hague are sure to knock them out of the contest and thereby “detribalise” or throw up the Kalenjin and Kikuyu votes for grabs.
I disagree only because it’s my believe voting in these communities will not be as a bloc regardless of whether either or both suspects are allowed to vie.
Bloc voting is a thing of the past and I don’t have time to explain why the Luo vote for Raila would not be bloc voting in the sense how this phenomena is understood in political parlance.
Prof. Makau touts the credentials of Mandera Central MP Abdukadir Hussein Mohamed and says he makes a compelling case for Raila to pick him as his running mate.
I should without any equivocation note that I agree with most of what the professor has said about Abdukadir and would even add that he has a bright future in Kenyan politics, if he continues on the path he is on.
I only disagree that he makes the most compelling case for pick as running mate because on the one hand, I am a strong proponent for everyone in politics waiting their turn and, on that measure, there are many others who top him for their having waited their turn and leading that pack, is the Hon. Gitobu Imanyara.
Imanyara is a proven reformist, capable of taking over as president, demonstrably loyal and even more importantly, he brings more regional balance in the Raila ticket than anyone I can think of at this moment.
In other words, he is the complete package.
Finally, but not least, Makau argues that the other compelling candidate is Gichugu MP Martha Karua because “she’s fearless and the only senior woman politician with a long record as a reformer.”
HMK, as I call her, is someone I have analyzed and concluded she is presidential material and in Who Is Martha Karua Part V, I noted the following:
I have no doubt many can look back to HMK’s conduct post-election 07 (PEV) and conclude HMK is the most dishonest, untrustworthy and certainly without any integrity and that would be on the surface, the appropriate conclusion to reach, but there is more to it than that.
There is no question, HMK came across during those grim days as shrewdly cold and recklessly inflexible, all the while advising Kibaki to take the most of hardline positions while the country was about to plunge into civil war, not to say anything about people having already been burned in churches and their homes with streets and homes still on fire.
For her hardline position, and her advising Kibaki not to relent even under the tremendous pressure being applied from everywhere, and despite the obvious need to so relent, if anything, to stop the violence, one can and should rightly say or conclude that HMK was then wallowing at the height of [recklessness and] impunity.
It therefore would be easy to conclude HMK lacks this trustfulness and honesty elements, when evaluating her leadership ability, solely based on her conduct post-election but I think this would be unfair.
HMK’s honesty, trustfulness and integrity, however, must be measured in totality, meaning in examining her complete personal and professional life, including her political life.
Starting with her conduct during PEV, this is clearly her biggest stain on her trustfulness, honor and integrity but she has explained her conduct as being driven by a desire to serve her master as zealously as she could.
In other words, in her quest to please Kibaki, HMK crossed the line without knowing to a level of zealotry that completely ignored or disregarded reality.
Or put differently, HMK was for impunity before she became against it but unwittingly so, according to her explanation.
If this is her explanation, it is understandable and forgivable, especially given the fact she has since decamped from the Kibaki regime, even though listening to how she puts it, her distancing herself from Kibaki has more to do with not standing Kibaki’s kitchen-cabinet than anything related to her PEV conduct or role.
I’ll give her a pass on that.
Beyond PEV, I have not heard of HMK as being implicated in conduct unbecoming an honest and trustworthy public servant with integrity to boot and given her earlier on and one may argue now resumed reformist attitude, she will make a compelling case for a VP pick for Raila.
In sum, in top consideration for VP running mate for Raila were Mudavadi to defect from ODM, I would have Henry Kosgey, Dr. Sally Kosgey, Gitobu Imanyara and HMK not necessarily in that order but evaluating each by the above mentioned criteria and giving the nod to whoever gets the most points.