17 November 2012

Kenya: Kitchen Cabinets


Beginning this week, Siasa brings you the inside story of the men and women behind the leading presidential candidates.

These are people who in many cases hold no elective office but have a huge influence on how the various campaigns are being run. And depending on who wins,they may also greatly influence the course of events withing the country beyond 2013.


Prime Minister Raila Odinga's inner sanctum is mainly dominated by close relatives and senior employees in the Office of the Prime Minister who in more than one way influence, his decisions, according to multiple sources.

The PM relies on his close family members whose advice has been crucial to his entire political life. At the top of this group is Ida Odinga, his wife whose word in many ways is seen to be taken seriously by Raila.

In fact, it was argued that in the run-up to the 2007 General Election, aspirants from what is informally regarded as Luo Nyanza who found favour with Ida got the nomination and are currently serving MPs. According to sources, once she puts her feet down Orange House has to budge.

Raila's former adviser Miguna Miguna does not hide the fact that Ida is much more than an influence in Raila's decisions but a key player who could sometimes be an overbearing character in his book Peeling Back the Mask.

For instance, she had Agriculture minister Dr Sally Kosgei's car removed from the Lwanda Kotieno ferry to create space for her entourage when they were heading for the burial of nominated MP Millie Odhiambo's mother.

Recently, the PM's wife founded the Sibanduki lobby group that many observers saw as an attempt by her to box out the ODM Reloaded Team, many of its members were not in Ida's good books.

During the ODM Women League elections a team supported by MPs Joyce Laboso, Rachel Shebesh, and Millie Odhiambo was upstaged by Ida's picks, which included Betty Syengo.

Among the women ODM MPs, Kasarani legislator Elizabeth Ongoro enjoys considerable influence by virtue of her closeness with Ida.

Within the circle of his family also includes his children, finance assistant minister and Raila's elder brother Oburu Oginga, Jaoko Oburu who is Oburu's son.

In addition Raila's sisters Ruth Adhiambo and Dr Wenwa Owino are confidantes of the PM. Outside the family circle, the PM has a strategy and advisory team that is based at the Shell-BP House office as well as cabinet ministers, university dons and parastatal chiefs.

They include Oduor Ong'wen, Raila's political adviser Dr Adhu Awiti, Migori county gubernatorial aspirant Prof Edward Oyugi, Dr Adams Oloo Prof Peter Wanyande, James Orengo, Anyang' Nyong'o and Jakoyo Midiwo. Political scientist Martin Oloo meanwhile seems to have lost favour perhaps as a result of perceptions that he was leaking information.

Miguna discloses that at one time he met with Orengo, Nyong'o, Ong'wen, think tank members Nabii Nabwera, Oloo and Salim Lone at the Tribe Hotel in the Village Market to discuss the Ikolomani by-election following concerns that "that Raila, Fred Gumo, Wycliffe Oparanya, Oburu Oginga, Jakoyo Midiwo and other 'prominent' ODM politicians were secretly supporting Bony Khalwale, the New Ford Kenya candidate, and had promised him that ODM wouldn't field a candidate against him. Apparently, these promises and money were being given to Khalwale without having been discussed within the party."

According to Miguna, the meeting decided that ODM should not support Khalwale but "minutes after it ended I received a telephone call from Mudavadi's private secretary, Kibisu Kabatesi, thanking me for 'standing up for the DPM'. That proved to me not just that my arguments were correct, but also that our team was an open sieve. Martin Oloo was the sieve."

The man who relinquished ODM party to Raila in the run-up to the 2007 General Election, Mugambi Imanyara is a senior strategist who also plays a significant role.

Others who have been in the strategy team are Mutakha Kangu, Geothermal Development Company chairman Paul Gondi and Sarah Elderkin who plays behind-the-scenes media role.

In fact, Elderkin is said to be one of the few advisors who can stand up to the PM. Similarly, one cannot ignore the roles played by the Permanent Secretary in OPM Mohammed Isahakia, principal secretary Caroli Omondi and former communications director Lone, the latter who despite having stepped down following the 2007 General Election continues to be a key pillar in the PM's inner circle.

The meticulous and articulate former KANU hawk and public service minister Dalmas Otieno is also another person who Raila is said to listen to a lot.

And in any case, by virtue of the position that he now holds as Raila's campaign manager, Eliud Owallo too now forms this core group of close advisers, so is music producer Tedd Josiah.

Inside Mudavadi kitchen cabinet

Just like all other influential politicians, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi has his own kitchen cabinet, a group of close confidantes he resorts to whenever he finds himself in a tight spot.

After a long political career that spans 23 years, the UDF presidential candidate list of confidants revolves around close family relatives.

Outside the family, Mudavadi's trusted allies are limited to a clique of individuals from his own Maragoli sub-ethnic group, most of whom worked with his father.

One of the criticisms leveled against Mudavadi by politicians within the Luhyia community has been his high affinity to his Maragoli people.

It is a legacy that he inherited from his father, the late Moses Mudavadi, who was accused of giving the rest of the Luhyia sub ethnic groups a wide berth during his time at the top.

It is a legacy that has always given Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo ammunition to fight Mudavadi every time they have engaged in a tussle for political supremacy in the region.

Jirongo has been harping on the theme that Musalia, like his father, has used his closeness to power to benefit his sub-ethnic group at the expense of the larger community.

The message, apparently, has struck a chord among a sizeable number of members of the community. The most influential person in the political life of the DPM is his wife, Tessi.

Tessi controls the family's business, and with it decides on how resources are spent. This gives her a key role to determines the ultimate decisions that Mudavadi makes in his political manoeuvres.

She is the force behind two momentous decisions that have defined Mudavadi's political career in the last decade. She is said to have influenced Mudavadi's infamous decision to quit the Rainbow Alliance in 2002 and return to Kanu.

More importantly, she also catalysed Mudavadi's recent resignation from ODM to UDF. Hannah Mudavadi, his mother and the first wife of Moses Mudavadi is another influential player in the political life of the DPM.

Mudavadi is said to regularly consult her before taking critical political decisions. Constituents seeking favours from the DPM can only get their favour on the approval of Hannah.

Ellam Lumwaju: The man who is in his 80s is another of Mudavadi's close confidants. Lumwaju lives in Sabatia and once served as the senior Mudavadi's Personal Assistant.

He is one of the elders who prevailed upon Musalia to join politics after the death of his father, Moses in 1989. Mudavadi regularly consults him.

Kibisu Kabatesi: Apart from being the DPM's diary keeper, the former University of Nairobi don enjoys absolute influence in the DPM's inner circle.

His influence as an advisor is pegged on the fact that Mudavadi can never make a decision without seeking a second opinion from him.

He was at the centre of the fallout between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Mudavadi early this year when in a scathing press release, he faulted Raila team's observation of a meeting between the two during president Museveni's tour of Raila Bondo home early this year.

Former Trade minister Mukhisa Kituyi has emerged as the DPM's political pillar in his bid for the presidency ahead of the March 4 general elections.

The 56-year old anthropologist provides the Mudavadi inner circle with some "intellectual touch" and is the fulcrum on which UDF's presidential campaign revolves.

He is currently drafting the party's policy documents that include the manifesto that should guide the party's power relations should it win power.

In Mukhisa's corner is to be found Mutahi Ngunyi, the renowned political scientist and political analyst. Mutahi has been drafted in Mudavadi's team mainly to add impetus and provide intellectual support to Mukhisa.

He is also supposed to brand Mudavadi to look, behave and speak in a truly presidential way. A Mr Osothi: A Nairobi businessman, but reputed to be close to Mudavadi.

He is among the few, alongside Kabatesi and a Mr Chavanga who the DPM turns to during his low moments. In this group is to be found former ODM election board member Charles Werangai

Bonny Khalwale: A rabid critic turned ally, the Ikolomani MP has reluctantly been absorbed in the inner sanctum of Mudavadi's men where he now is a key pointman.

The MP has been brought in mainly out of concern that Mudavadi court is safe with Khalwale "pissing" outside than inside.

Dan Ameyo: the UDF secretary general and former Post Master General also enjoys close rapport with Mudavadi, especially in terms of legal counsel.

Mudavadi consults him regularly and he is believed to have been the people behind the DPM exit from ODM in May. Two CDF officials in Sabatia Constituency Esborne Mwendwa Ligura,chairman and Eliud Onyango, secretary, Nelson Chagenya, an employee at Mumias sugar company and Eliud Kiusa, the Mayor of Vihiga Municipal Council are some of the people sources say the DPM consults on regular basis to seek an opinion.

Kalonzo's kitchen cabinet

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka's kitchen Cabinet includes politicians, clergy, technocrats, CEOs, media personalities and businesspeople.

Kalonzo is said to be consulting some of these leaders on key issues such as policy and strategy before making decisions.

On the political front, the VP's ears always listen to MPs Mohamed Affey, Charles Kilonzo, Johnstone Muthama, David Musila, Philip Kaloki and Education minister Mutula Kilonzo.

Although Kalonzo has on several occasions differed in public with Mutula, those close to him say he still considers the Education minister a key person in his inner team and values his contributions greatly.

On the side of the clergy, Kalonzo, who is a devout Christian, remains close to AIC head Bishop Silas Yego and Bishop Gerry Kibarabara.

The two men of cloth are said to be giving the VP spiritual nourishment especially whenever he finds himself in a difficult situation.

Businessman Victor Ogeto has been one of the VP's close family friends having started their friendship from their time at the University of Nairobi.

Businessman Joe Mutambo from the VP's Mwingi county is also one of his close associates in charge of resource and political mobilisation.

Baringo County Council chairlady Elizabeth Chesang, media personality Rose Kimotho and former head of civil service Harry Kathurima are also very influential persons in the VP's camp.

When Kalonzo formed his presidential campaign advisory team mid this year, he did not leave any doubt on the importance of the four when he appointed them to the team.

The VP's PS Ludeki Chweya, Agriculture PS Romano Kiome and Public Works acting PS Gideon Mulyungi are other key players in the Wiper leader's team.

Chweya by virtue of his position as Kalonzo's PS and his background of political science has been a key advisor to the VP not only on policy but also political strategy.

(Chweya was plucked from UoN lecture halls and appointed PS). Dr Romano only advises Kalonzo on policy and development issues. However, Architect Mulyungi is the closest of the technocrats to the VP.

Apart from hailing from Kalonzo's rural home, the acting PS's relationship with the VP is that of a son and a father. Kalonzo educated Mulyungi right from primary school to university by paying his school fees although they are not related.

Journalists Muthui Kariuki, Kaplich Barsito, Brown Kutswa and former government spokesman Alfred Mutua advise the VP on media relations.

Kutswa is in this team courtesy of his position as the director of Vice President Press Service while Muthui and Barsito talk on behalf of Kalonzo.

Barsito is, however, the most visible in the VP's communication team since he doubles as the Kalonzo's personal assistant. Communication expert Ngari Gituku who was in President Kibaki's 2007 election as head of communications is also close to the VP.

Although Ngari does not have an official docket as he does not work directly with the ministry, Kalonzo's team always bring him on board for communication strategy and he is to Kalonzo what Jon Favreue is to US President Barack Obama; a speech writer. Lawyer and politician Dan Maanzo is also very close to the VP's inner team.

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