As they say, the devil lies in the details. Of the two major pre-election coalition deals deposited to the office of the Registrar of Political Parties on Tuesday 4th December (deadline set by IEBC), anecdotal word already suggests that the C.O.R.D deal was a thoroughly debated and more practical pact. It was painstakingly crafted through a number of weeks by lawyers like ODM’s James Orengo, Wiper’s Mutula Kilonzo, and Ford’s Moses Wetangula, ultimately bringing together parties like ODM, Wiper, Ford-K, Narc, TIP, UDM, PDP, CCM, Agano and others. It is said to be both legally and politically sound – with the caveat that …do not rule out political chicanery from some turnaround politicians.
On the other hand, UDF, URP, and TNA’s reactive pact was an afterthought last-minute deal, quickly cobbled at the Grand Laico Hotel within a couple of hours of IEBC’s deadline. With the stroke of a pen, it nullified a much-touted earlier deal between TNA and URP unveiled yesterday at the Jeevanji Gardens. Without doubt, there are very many uneasy people earlier promised positions and perks in the previous Jeevanji deal who are already reassessing their positions in the new food-pyramid.
It is also this latter deal that raises important questions about the possible concessions that ultimately swayed UDF’s Musalia Mudavadi into this ICC-besieged political partnership. It goes without say there was a sense of desperation on the URP/TNA team upon the unveiling of the formidable and politically-intimidating C.O.R.D, which for the first time, brought together the Ukambani leadership into one political basket. Such signs are definitely what triggered the frenzied outreach to Musalia Mudavadi.
Rushed deals are often fraught with minefields. Reports indicate that Musalia was promised from an array of lucrative positions predicated on a joint primary between himself and TNA’s Uhuru Kenyatta. In the deal, Ruto was guaranteed the running mate spot, bar for a court ruling prohibiting the latter’s run. Were Musalia to beat Uhuru Kenyatta in a joint TNA/URP/UDF primary nomination, Mudavadi would be guaranteed the Presidential ticket with Ruto as running mate.
If Musalia lost to Uhuru, the former would then mount a Senate bid and go for the position of Senate majority leader should their coalition win. The final possible permutation in the last-minute deal was based on possible court sanctions barring Uhuru (& possibly Ruto) from running for public office. In that case, the deal declared Mudavadi as the fallback automatic Presidential candidate, with Sally Kosgey negotiated as possible running mate.
Out side the box, the implication for the general election is a number of interesting scenarios pitting two horses from either of C.O.R.D and TNA/URP/UDF; with Nacr-K’s Martha Karua or KNC’s Peter Kenneth lingering as important wildcards should Uhuru Kenyatta’s name miss from the ballot.
Possible scenarios of the two horse race – with the wildcards listed where applicable:
1. Raila-Kalonzo (CORD) v Uhuru-Ruto (TNA/URP/UDF) ….very likely (Musalia’s impact – NIL)
2. Raila-Kalonzo (CORD) v Mudavadi-Ruto (TNA/URP/UDF) v Karua or Kenneth (Narc-K or KNC) wildcard…possible (Kikuyu vote tenuous)
3. Raila-Kalonzo (CORD) v Mudavadi-Sally Kosgei (TNA/URP/UDF) v Karua or Kenneth (Narc-K or KNC) in case courts bar Uhuru and Ruto (ditto)
Be your own judge as to the prospects of each of these competitors in scenarios such as (but not limited to) these above. The ODM leadership must be sitting comfortably as they plan to mount a nationwide campaign in the emerging two-horse race. It is clear there is one coalition of reformers and another coalition of suspects; irrespective of who heads the TNA/URP/UDF ticket. The dice has been cast and the labels sealed. Uhuru, Mudavadi, and Ruto are a trio that entered politics barely in their twenties, growing up under the Nyayo era and vigorously opposing reforms.
It may not also be immediately clear where New Ford-Kenya’s Eugene Wamalwa and KADDU’s Cyrus Jirongo have ended up but without say, Wamalwa feels terribly used and humiliated by the TNA/URP/UDF coalition. The political implications in the larger Bungoma and Trans Nzoia counties could only be guessed given the fact that Bukusu (comprising almost 40% of the Luhya population) consider themselves fairly independent of Mudavadi.
There are already signs of serious grumbling building also from Kenyatta-elites who instead preferred that the Deputy Prime Minister enter a deal with Eugene Wamalwa rather than Musalia Mudavadi. Their main reason is that Musalia is surrounded by a bunch of forceful and eloquent populists led by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale – the most ardent promoter of a Mudavadi presidency outside Vihiga. They have studied well how Khalwale handled corruption allegations of former Finance Minister Amos Kimunya in and out of Parliament.
Kenyatta handlers fear that should Mudavadi become President, Khalwale would automatically become a powerful insider. The Kenyatta elite fear that Khalwale and his ilk would most definitely mobilize for the populist cooperation with the ICC; jeopardizing Kenyatta’s ultimate freedom and security of his wealth from ICC’s Victims Trust Fund (which compensates victims of crimes against humanity). They also argue that this group’s stance on matters such as land reforms is a mirror image of that held by ODM’s leadership.
The next 72 hours will prove quite interesting as more breaking-news continue trickling in this fast-evolving political terrain. One thing is clear right now. W ithout the new Constitution, Kenyans would by now still be wallowing in complete darkness – the type the likes of Kibaki love to lull masses into. Besides mandates and deadlines for pre-election coalitions, watch out for more elements of the new Constitution kicking in…ain’t it interesting.