Every election cycle, the media subjects Kenyans to a circus Mudavadi. The discussion is about which party he will join and who he wil support for the presidency. Hours of valuable time are wasted as talking heads, newspaper commentators, bloggers and spin doctors exchange conventional wisdom on Mudavadi’s eventual choice. I can foresee Kenyan Universities starting a special course in Mudavadology, specializing in predicting Musalia Mudavadi’s voting preferences.
It is now nearly fifteen years since this circus started its seasonal appearances. Then Mudavadi who was supposed to be a shoo-in to succeed Moi failed to make it to the dictator’s final list. Instead he sat and watched as Moi publicly recommended Uhuru Kenyatta. He was not alone in being disappointed. Raila Odinga who had run for the presidency in 1997 had been hoping to take over following the KANU-NDP merger. George Saitoti who had been vice president for slightly over a decade was also bypassed as was Katana Ngala who had acted as President whenever Moi was out of the country at the time he had not named a vice president.
There were others like Joseph Kamotho who saw nothing but disaster in the naming of Uhuru to lead the KANU torch. He joined the KANU rebels led by Raila Odinga.
At the root of the rebellion was a simple fact that few people like to admit: Moi had spent over two decades preaching against Kikuyus. He coached the entire country to learn to be wary of Kikuyus and reminded them of the Kikuyu domination of Kenya under Kenyatta. This gospel was repeated all over the country by his disciples dotted in every corner. Moi promoted and supported those who upheld the policy of isolating the Kikuyu. Indeed Musalia Mudavadi came to prominence on account of his father being a firm believer in this policy. When he died in 1989 Moi ensured that his son – Musalia – inherited the parliamentary seat and cabinet seat at the young age of 29.
Yet here was Moi telling his supporters that they should elect a Kikuyu.
Musalia Mudavadi soon went through a cross section of government ministries starting with Marketing and supplies, Finance; Information, Transport and Communication and eventually becoming Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs in the dying days of the Moi regime. He would become the vice president with the shortest tenure ever! It is perhaps this role as Vice President that causes many a politician to run for Mudavadi’s endorsement.
Does Mudavadi possess any attributes that would be an asset to any Presidential candidate?
To start with Musalia Mudavadi is a highly compromised man who has had a hand in virtually every major corruption scandal that has taken place in Kenya. According to the Paris-based research group — Centre d’Etudes et Recherches (CERI) — Mudavadi is one of the key politicians who was linked to two groups of Asian businessmen nicknamed the “G7” who had monopoly status of contracts in Kenya when Mudavadi was Finance minister. According to the CERI Report, which was published in April 1998, both Mudavadi and Attorney General Amos Wako (Both Luhyas from Western Province) were the Godfathers of Mr. Haten Singh Bishar who enjoyed monopoly status of contracts in Western Kenya. Mr. Bishar had a stranglehold over all infrastructure contracts in Nyanza, Western and Parts of the Rift Valley. He helped Musalia Mudavadi offload many plots of land which his father had grabbed in Kisumu, the most prominent belonging to Kenya Railways yard in Kisumu town, now owned by Hayer Construction Company.
Mudavadi’s corruption did not start and end in his native Western Kenya. According to the CERI Report, he was the Godfather of Harbinder Singh Sethi, another businessman who had monopoly status of contracts issued at that time by the Ministry of Energy. This monopoly spiked during Mudavadi’s tenure.
Mudavadi has been connected to both the Goldenberg and the Anglo-Leasing Scandals that later came to haunt the Kibaki regime. The former Vice President was Minister of Transport when the fraudulent contract to procure VSAT equipment was signed in July 2002. He had arranged to appoint his village mate – Francis Chahonyo – as the Managing Director of Kenya Posts. On June 19 of the that year, Mudavadi wrote a project justification letter to the then Minister of Finance Mr. Chris Obure seeking exemption of the Postal Corporation of Kenya from the Audit and Exchequer Public Procurement Regulations of 2001 that were specifically set up to check corruption when it came to public procurements by government agencies. These were the dying days of the Moi regime and Mudavadi was involved in the so called “midnight robbery” perpetrated successfully on account of the entire country being diverted by general elections. The Kibaki government, far from investigating the scam and prosecuting Mudavadi, sought to benefit from it as well.
That was not the end of Musalia Mudavadi’s midnight looting spree for in the same letter, Mudavadi sought permission for the Posta Corporation to enter into direct procurement of goods and services from Universal Satspace (an American company), Spacenet Incorporated and First Mercantile Securities Corporation (both of Switzerland). According to the April 2006 Report from the Controller and Auditor General, the Companies in whose favour Mudavadi had written in his capacity as a Cabinet Minister did not exist.
The Companies wanted to install broadband Network and VSAT equipment in 980 post offices across the country in a project baptized “Posta Surf ” at a tune of Ksh2.8 billion. The gist of Mudavadi’s intervention is that he wanted the companies awarded the contracts without any tendering as stipulated in law.
An affidavit dated March 27, 2006, and signed by Julius Shigolia, the Secretary of the Postal Corporation of Kenya, states that Mudavadi’s letter “was totally unfounded, misleading and evidence of a conspiracy to defraud the Republic of Kenya.”
Mudavadi wanted the contracts awarded to Satspace, which was not registered in Kenya and despite the fact that the same job could be done by Telkom Kenya. The same affidavit established that a company called Gilat Alldean (Africa) had fraudulently claimed that it is the parent company of Spacenet, an American company, in order to give foreign companies a legal basis of participating in contracts in Kenya. Gillat Alldean is connected to the Mudavadi Family.
During the Goldenberg Inquiry, it was alleged that Ksh 5.8 billion was paid out to unknown recipients between April 19, 1993, and July 6, 1993 while Mudavadi was the Finance Minister. In fact more Goldenberg billions were paid out during the tenure of Musalia Mudavadi than George Saitoti. Although Mudavadi was never implicated directly as having been responsible, the question was how such a huge amount of money could have been transferred by his juniors and without his knowledge as Finance Minister. Which is worse: To have known that his juniors were doing it or to have been totally ignorant as it happened? Any of the options do not exactly make one a beacon of honesty nor cultivate the image of Mr. Clean.
The Kibaki government aware of the involvement of Mudavadi in high level corruption opted not to prosecute him in exchange for his cooperation. Even when Kibaki appeared in mortal danger of being voted out of office, his party and supporters remained strangely civil towards Musalia Mudavadi. While Ruto and Orengo were raising a hullabaloo at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Mudavadi was missing. Yet this is the man who Raila placed in charge of shepherding the transition from Kibaki to Odinga. When Uhuru Kenyatta made an appearance at KICC, Mudavadi who should have also insisted on going there was curiously absent.
Could he have entered a secret deal with Kibaki to derail Raila in exchange for non prosecution?
How much support does Mudavadi really command in his native Western which he could sell to outsiders bidding for his support? Is he as popular as he claims or others imply? Or is he selling an empty shell that never had any substance?
The Luhya believe in Shenyi ni Shenyu (yours is yours). In other words if nobody is going to blow your trumpet, throw modesty to the wind and grab the metal horn and blow it. So Mudavadi received most of his votes in Western out of sympathy from Luhyas extending the hand of brotherhood. However you will note that most of the votes did not come from his native Vihiga, which he lost to Raila Odinga. Thanks to Khalwale and Eugene Wamalwa, Mudavadi got some votes in Kakamega and Bungoma but not the majority. In fact he did not win a single county in Kenya. His balloon burst in broad daylight exposing him as a man without popular support. He has since lost most of the support in Kakamega as Khalwale bailed out on him. The Maragoli chose to vote for Raila in moral solidarity and support of Ida Odinga – Raila’s wife.
It has been suggested that Mudavadi be appointed a running mate for Uhuru Kenyatta or Raila. Both men have done just that before with devastating results. Uhuru named him VP candidate in 2002 in a desperate attempt to galvanize Western support. In fact a look at the results of that year show that it is Mudavadi who let down Uhuru Kenyatta.
Raila would fail to learn from Uhuru’s mistake and name him running mate in 2007. An election that was Raila’s for the asking ended up in disaster.
In 2013 he was too hot for anybody. Peter Kenneth dumped him as did Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto.
Since 1989, Musalia Mudavadi has been used to being “given things”.
- In 1989 Moi gave him a seat in parliament and a cabinet seat. Moi then gave him a number of ministries after successive elections. The Moi giving spree ended in 2001 when he named him Vice President in the dying minutes of his dictatorship;
- In 2013 he was given a political party by Kibaki’s mandarins complete with a ready made running mate.