Mudavadi Quits ODM: Critics see it as a Blessing

Written By Michael Maunda on Monday, April 23, 2012 | 12:10 AM

Over the weekend Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi quit the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ending months of speculation and internal wrangling in the party. He spoke at a meeting of leaders from western Kenya two hours after Prime Minister Raila Odinga said in Meru that Mr Mudavadi was free to leave the Orange party.

In an address televised live from Kakamega, Mr Mudavadi asked his supporters for patience as he consulted before announcing which party he would move to.

And when Mr Mudavadi communicated his decision he said; “When one door is shut, another one must open.”

He added: “When we leave here, no one should have doubt that Mudavadi is backtracking. This time, there is no reverse gear; we are going to the end.” 

He also said that he would seek to build political bridges across the country before announcing which party he would vie the presidency on.

“We must seek to build bridges with leaders from other places. This is not about a tribal agenda. This meeting is to say what we can do to offer ourselves in the opportunity to lead this country.”
Cabinet ministers, MPs and leaders who spoke before him told Mr Mudavadi that his continued stay in ODM was untenable and it was time he announced a new political vehicle. 

Mr Mudavadi and Mr Odinga have been engaged in a contest for the ODM ticket for the presidency.

While the party constitution stipulates that the party leader will be the automatic presidential candidate, Mr Mudavadi had wanted that changed to give members a chance to vote afresh for a flag bearer.

He had also proposed that each county vote separately instead of gathering delegates in Nairobi to make the decision.
But ODM has already filed its party constitution with the Registrar of Political Parties with secretary general Anyang’ Nyong’o saying that the changes Mr Mudavadi and his supporters wanted would come in due course.

But on Saturday, Mr Mudavadi said that going by the law would mean that the changes would come too late in the day for him and he would not be able to jump ship and vie for the presidency if he was dissatisfied.

“We are not in enmity with anyone but we are in political contest and Kenyans have a right to choose who they would like as long as he or she has presented himself in the prescribed manner. I want to give Kenyans that opportunity,” Mr Mudavadi said.

Former Cabinet minister Mukhisa Kituyi said members of the Luhya community needed to walk together if they wanted to succeed in supporting Mr Mudavadi to run for the top seat.
Speaking during the second day of his visit to Meru, Mr Odinga said anyone uncomfortable in the Orange party was free to leave. 

Addressing ODM delegates from Meru county, the Premier said he had yielded to most of Mr Mudavadi’s demands including the mode of party nomination and the issue of the party leader becoming the automatic presidential flag bear.

He said he was not bothered by competition from Mr Mudavadi since he had a right to express his ambition.

Mr Odinga said the party tolerated internal democracy, the reason it conducted nominations on five candidates who were seeking to run on the party ticket in 2007. 

Mudavadi Exit a Blessing to ODM

Critics look at the suspense which Mudavadi has created to quit ODM not interesting to follow anymore. Many people say that the deputy prime minister would have quit ODM and identified the party to run on expeditiously. This could have given him a good start and convinced many that he is not the “coward” as his opponents have always called him.  

Mr. Mudavadi’s departure would clear the deck for ODM to reconceived itself as a reformist party. ODM should seize the moment to recalibrate its political project.

It can turn itself from a grouping of “tribal chiefs” to an ideologically-driven party. This ought to draw a sharp contrast with the G7 Alliance – or the latest PNU reincarnation – which is stuck in the politics of tribal mobilisation. 

Mr Mudavadi as always been seen as retired president Moi’s orphan and is bound to join the G7 group to block Odinga’s bid to state house. Critics say that Mudavadi’s exit in ODM doesn’t mean that he will leave with all the luhyas votes. History reminds us that he lost his Sabatia parliamentary seat as vice-president in 2002 when he was Mr Kenyatta’s running mate.