Mudavadi presidential run is essential to unify Western Kenya – analysts
His safest bet is the community’s unity and backing for an opposition alliance, they say
The Luhya vote is likely to scatter at the August 8, 2017 polls if Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi is not picked as the opposition presidential candidate, analysts say.
The Luhya community has an estimated three million votes, with 1.6 million in Western and the rest spread across the country.
Mudavadi ran for President in 2013 and garnered 483,981 votes, a distant third behind Cord’s Raila Odinga ( 5.3 million) and Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta, who won with 6.1 million. Experts say the Luhya vote could tilt the scales at the next general elections if consolidated. The Western bloc has traditionally voted for more than one presidential candidate, save for 2002 when it unanimously voted for the Narc to remove Kanu from power.
Political analyst Charles Werangai says the proposed National Super Alliance could cause an electoral holocaust in Western, and the country in general, if Luhyas vote as a bloc.
“Mudavadi’s safest bet is Luhya unity first – that the community will be going into the opposition alliance with a force. This is the only way to remove Raila from Western and create a plank for himself and the community,” he told the Star on the phone yesterday.
Former medical services minister and political scientist Amukowa Anangwe said the place of Mudavadi in the line-up will determine the impact of the opposition alliance on Luhya politics.
A joint opposition will have little impact in Western if Mudavadi is sidelined, he said.
“To the extent that Raila Odinga remains the opposition presiden- tial torchbearer, Mudavadi is bound to lose the Luhya support, many of whom may opt for Jubilee to spite the opposition for marginalising him,” Prof Anangwe told the Star on the phone yesterday.
He said Luhyas will be tempted to mistakenly rally behind the alliance, hoping that Mudavadi could win the presidency if he is the candidate. It is also unlikely that Cord co-principal Moses Wetang’ula will be a presidential candidate in the alliance formation, Anangwe added.
“The goose is already cooked and he [Wetang’ula] should brace himself for the worst case scenario, that is, playing second fiddle to Raila and Mudavadi in the opposition,” he said.
The Bungoma senator, whose Ford Kenya party seems to have lost its stronghold in the region, is battling rebels within who want to expel him over what they term mismanagement of the party.
His standing in the opposition is also complicated by the fact that his Bungoma backyard has trooped into the mega Jubilee Party.
Wetang’ula declared he will run for President in 2013, but dropped his bid at the last minute and backed Raila.
Researcher Lwanga Lwole said the Luhya vote will be scattered if Mudavadi is not the opposition candidate.
The ground is hostile to Jubilee because of the resurgence of mega corruption, he said.
Jubilee has been trying to woo Western residents, with Deputy President William Ruto visiting the region at least three times but the benefits are yet to be seen. Uhuru plans to visit the region soon to launch the revival of the Pan Paper Mills in Webuye and address other development issues.
Some JP leaders are said to be keenly watching the political realignment in the region and nationally before making their final political stand.