Even as political rivals throw barbs at a power-sharing deal struck by Kenya Kwanza coalition leaders, Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula stands out from the rest as one with the bait the safer.
Born on September 13, 1956, Mr Wetang’ula – who ended his political career in 1992 as an appointed MP from the pro-independence Kanu party – is the most politically experienced partner in striking coalition deals within the coalition led by Ruto which includes the national Amani party of Musalia Mudavadi. Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Party of the President of the National Assembly, Justin Muturi, among others.
Mr Wetang’ula, in recent times, joined forces with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka in the Coalition for the Restoration of Democracy (Cord) in 2013 and the Super Alliance national (Nasa) in 2017, this time changed sides for the team led by William Ruto.
In both polls, Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka were left in the political cold after failing to secure victory as their partner, Mr Wetang’ula, won an elective seat and was minority leader in the Senate. In 2017, Mudavadi remained behind the scenes as Wetang’ula comfortably landed his Senate seat – thanks to his plan B.
And this time around, the crafty Wetang’ula has even more seats in his orbit – three. The Ford-Kenya leader is eyeing the seat of Speaker of the National Assembly, which – if passed – will constitutionally place him as the third highest ranking government official after the President and Vice President. It’s a move that will technically propel him to a higher position than Musalia in the pecking order.
Mr. Wetang’ula has two more seats within reach as a fallback position – a Senate seat and a cabinet post, should Dr. Ruto win the presidency, but with minority seats in the National Assembly.
Yesterday, the former foreign secretary acknowledged he had “done a good job” at the negotiating table, but was reluctant to take full credit for it. He maintained that the deal was fair to everyone – Ruto, Mudavadi, himself and the Kenya Kwanza fraternity.
The Kenya Kwanza coalition agreement filed with the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) proposes Mr. Mudavadi as first cabinet secretary, with Wetang’ula slated to serve as Speaker of the National Assembly.
Of the two, Wetang’ula is the junior political partner of Mr. Mudavadi, a former vice president who also served as deputy prime minister in the grand coalition government. In the event of a Ruto presidency, the deal provides for a 50-50 split of ministerial and other government positions between ANC and Ford-Kenya leaders.
As for Mr Mudavadi, the agreement states in part that “the ministries responsible for the interior and the coordination of the national government will be placed under the office of the First Secretary to the Cabinet”.
Unlike Mr. Wetang’ula, Mr. Mudavadi’s position is strictly linked to the formation of the government by Kenya Kwanza.
Therefore, unlike his “brother” Mr. Mudavadi, whose agreement hinges solely on Ruto’s electoral victory, Mr. Wetang’ula has several cards in play whether or not Kenya Kwanza forms the next government. Even if Dr Ruto is channeled by his main rival, Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya candidate Raila Odinga, Wetang’ula can still get what he bargained for as Speaker of the National Assembly.
Despite his maneuvering to retain his elective seat in Bungoma County and remain politically relevant, opponents have alleged Mr Wetang’ula’s acrobatic moves indicate his side of the coalition felt defeat in the August poll.
Secretary of the Defense Cabinet, Eugene Wamalwa, notably launched a charged statement to this effect on Friday evening via Twitter: “My brother Wetang’ula, congratulations on your dear business! But as the Prince of Morocco said in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, all that glitters is not gold. If you are sure of your victory and your agreement, why are you still running for the seat of senator in Bungoma? »
Wetang’ula hit back at CS yesterday by daring him to go public with what his deal with Raila entails. Calling Wamalwa – his political opponent from Azimio in Kenya’s Western Region – an “empty-handed conformist”, Wetang’ula argued that he and Mudavadi had struck the best deal for members of the Luhya community.
Indeed, closer examination reveals that even in light of the parliamentary elections, the deal with Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has benefited Wetang’ula more than Mudavadi.
Through his association, the politician’s Ford-Kenya party inherited neighboring Mt Elgon political constituencies in Bungoma County and Trans Nzoia County, which have traditionally leaned on the ruto.
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