Kenya: Mudavadi Makes Inroads in Ruto Backyard

Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has taken the battle for State House to Deputy President William Ruto's doorstep in a bold step that seeks to boost his bid ahead of the 2022 General Election.

Mr Mudavadi held a three-hour meeting with legislators Swarup Mishra (Kesses) and William Chepkut (Ainabkoi) in Eldoret on Saturday, where he pushed the case for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

As the ANC boss was hunting in the DP's backyard, Malava MP Malulu Injendi announced his intention to quit Tangatanga camp for ANC.

The MP told the Nation yesterday his decision was informed by the virtue that western region has to unite to have a high stake in political negotiations, almost similar to what Kimilili MP Didimus Barasa said when he took his sabbatical leave from politics earlier this year.

"I have not left the Jubilee Party, which sponsored me to Parliament, but I have decided that I will no longer associate with the Tangatanga team linked to Ruto and I am now with Musalia... Ruto will remain a friend but not a political ally," said Mr Injendi.

Western has more than two million votes spread across the four counties of Kakamega (743,736), Bungoma 559,850, Busia 351,048 and Vihiga 272,409. Trans Nzoia, located in the Rift Valley but with a high Luhya population, has 339,622 votes, with Mr Injendi saying it was time the numbers worked in their favour.

"The Luo are very powerful despite having a small population compared to that of Western because of their unity. We have the numbers but we are divided," he added.

In what could portend further danger to the DP's inroads in western, Mr Injendi said plans are in top gear to ensure all local MPs in various formations either join Mr Mudavadi's team or that of Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetang'ula.

Mr Mudavadi said his meeting in Eldoret was one of many he is set to hold in his quest for the presidency.

"I can't be seeking the high office of the country and yet I am not reaching out to everybody to persuade them because each vote counts. The MPs have supporters and are crucial in my race to State House," Mr Mudavadi told the Nation.

His close allies told the Nation he has been trying to woo Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, 2017 Elgeyo-Marakwet gubernatorial contender Moses Changwony and 2017 Keiyo South aspirant Micah Kigen to draw a formula on how to penetrate Dr Ruto's political bastion.

Mr Mudavadi met with Governor Mandago in May last year, sparking speculation about the purpose of the meeting in Nairobi. Mr Mishra, Mr Chepkut and Silas Tiren (Moiben) were the only Uasin Gishu MPs who voted in support of the BBI Bill in the National Assembly on Thursday.

Mr Mishra said the meeting was the beginning of 'a great journey' in the constitutional amendment process.

"We had a great day with Mudavadi. He is a great leader and we are happy that we are working together to ensure that our people are the biggest beneficiaries (in the BBI process)," he said.

The ANC boss said the National Assembly's passage of the Bill proved wrong political leaders in Dr Ruto's camp who had claimed that the constitutional changes were unpopular.

"Parliament spoke loudly and when you look at the numbers of those who voted in support and those who voted against, it's very clear that a majority of Kenyans want to see the constitutional change moving forward to the referendum," said Mr Mudavadi.

"The margin was so wide and numbers don't lie. What happened in Parliament is statistics, which will inform the direction that the constitutional changes will take," he added.

Mr Mudavadi said the BBI debate should end at the close of year to facilitate other economic issues to be dealt with amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

"BBI will enable the counties to gain from the 35 per cent allocation to spur development. Kenyans will no longer depend on the national government for resources to initiate projects in rural areas," he said.

The ANC leader urged Kenyans not to be swayed by leaders pushing for their selfish interests.

"Don't be deceived by con politicians. There are dishonest leaders who have bought their way to power and Kenyans have to reject such characters in 2022," Mr Mudavadi said.

Mr Chepkut pleaded with residents of the vote-rich Rift Valley region to support the BBI drive, saying the document has enormous benefits for the region.

"In 2010, he community voted against the Constitution but ended up becoming the biggest beneficiaries after it got the position of Deputy President. We have to join other Kenyans so that we don't benefit from constitutional changes that we opposed," Mr Chepkut said.

Rift Valley BBI coordinator and Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos said his team will soon meet the Head of State with ward reps to strategise the way forward.

"We are set to meet the President with all MCAs in favour of the Bill irrespective of assemblies that rejected the document," said Mr Tolgos, a critic of the DP.

The BBI team has been having consultative meetings to come up with a strategy on how to popularise the document and debunk misinformation that BBI had links with succession politics.

"We have been comparing notes on how to popularise BBI in the region to debunk the myths that it is aimed at finishing a particular politician," Mr Tolgos told the Nation.

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