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Inside Mudavadi’s ”Soaring Above the Storms of Passion”

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Former Vice President and Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi has revealed the hitherto unknown rivalries that characterised former President Daniel arap Moi’s Cabinet of the 1990s.In the revelations contained in his new book Soaring Above the Storms of Passion, Mudavadi says long-serving Vice President George Saitoti was never at ease with him from the moment he stepped into the National Treasury docket after the 1992 General Election.Mudavadi says Saitoti had built for himself an enviable network of loyalists in the all-important docket, and that the VP apparently understood that the Treasury was his special preserve.But on the other hand, international financial institutions were exerting pressure on Moi to make changes in the financial management sector.

By retaining Saitoti as vice president and giving Mudavadi the planning docket, whose functions cross-cut those of Finance, Moi had unknowingly set up the two men against each other.Inferior office“Saitoti refused to vacate the office. I was eventually forced to sit on the 10th floor in an office that was considered relatively inferior. I had huge challenges from the very outset. There were powerful chief officers who felt beholden to Saitoti,” Mudavadi says.

He also reveals that Saitoti refused to hand over to him, casting him into the deep end of belligerent technocrats. He says that for a while, Saitoti managed to push his ‘nose and fingers’ into the goings on at Treasury.Before the Treasury job, Mudavadi had been the minister of Marketing and Supplies since his debut into Parliament in 1988.

Quite young, green and a stranger to big office politics, Mudavadi was no match for Saitoti.“The Central Bank, another key arm of the finance function, proliferated with what some people derogatorily referred to as Saitoti’s errand boys. So, too, did other arms of the financial sector – from all the revenue-collecting departments to CBK,” he says.Later, Mudavadi would come to terms with the arduous nature of the task ahead of him; the forced management of a financial sector that was resisted internally but demanded internationally.Soon thereafter, the first International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Peter Heller landed in Nairobi.Mudavadi describes Heller as “one hell of a man most difficult to deal with”. The following month, Mudavadi, alongside Treasury chiefs Wilfred Koinange, Eric Kotut and Prof Terry Ryan, had to go to Washington to convince the IMF to open the financial taps.

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He reveals that the biggest shocker came when they met World Bank Deputy President Edward Jaycox. Apparently, he had no room for niceties and formalities, especially after seeing the composition of the Kenyan team.“I cannot discuss with looters. I don’t want to talk to people who have ruined their own economy, now coming here thinking that we can give them more money to go and loot,” Mudavadi quotes Jaycox.Mudavadi says that even as minister he suddenly felt small. Later, Jaycox revealed to him the rot at CBK and how heads had to roll if anything were to be done. He says when he came back home, he understood the initial antagonism against him when he realised how CBK had been looted.With Moi’s blessings, he says, he began to clean the mess in the finance sector created by runway impunity, which also related to the Goldenberg scandal.“Goldenberg was a scorching hot brick, so dreadfully scorching and hot in fact. And yet how to lay it bare was a nightmare,” he says, adding that “it was the work of super minds applied to a perverted cause.”

So shocking were the results of a PwC audit commissioned to probe the export compensation scheme and pre-shipment financing that when IMF Head of Mission Hiroyuki Hino saw it, he demanded a personal meeting with the President.“It was all chaos … the schemes had been seriously abused. The country was basically bankrupt. It was on this basis the President made the decision to carry out changes at the very top of the CBK,” he writes.The State fished Micah Cheserem from Malawi where he was working for Unilever. He says his first budget in 1993 was prepared with the assistance of the IMF because he was laying groundwork for debt rescheduling, which had failed under Saitoti’s regime.On the other front, Mudavadi claims, he was selling the unpalatable but necessary economic structural adjustment programmes to the Cabinet. With the advise of the IMF, he enlisted the help of Catholic Church head Maurice Cardinal Otunga, to convince Moi of the need for the changes.Meek comportmentA meeting with the Cardinal, who he describes in the book as of ‘meek comportment’, turned into a tongue-lashing of sorts. He nevertheless agreed to talk to Moi.“And he did. That, in my view, was one move that contributed to softening President Moi’s heart towards the terms of the donor community, over and above the fact that the country was smarting under the weight of a collapsing economy,” he says.Soon thereafter, the State moved to remove price controls, liberalise exchange rates, remove import licenses and reform key sectors like Energy. Treasury mandarins who had been making a killing through some of the inefficiencies, like import licensing, complained to Moi directly.“Moi shocked them. He told them off, emphasising that things had to change. He telephoned me and urged me to remain very firm.”By 1994, the aid embargo against Kenya had been lifted but after a very painful period when banks folded, some merged while others were liquidated. The money-minting schemes employed by Goldenberg had also been stopped.In the book, Mudavadi claims he stopped a further Sh2.1 billion payment to Goldenberg demanded by a parliamentary committee led by opposition leader Michael Wamalwa.Later, he says, it turned out that some of the opposition leaders had been paid off by Kamlesh Pattni.Mudavadi says it was his dealings with the IMF and foul-spoken Cabinet colleagues that got him out of Treasury.He says there were ministers like Kirugi M’mkindia “who would make a parody of you and a chorus would swing into action against you.”Mudavadi says that one time, Moi gave him a tongue-lashing over his IMF dealings and told him that they had ‘stretched him beyond his elasticity’.“No matter how powerful a bull is, it cannot service 50 heifers,” he quotes the former president.Mudavadi says there was one letter from IMF where the boss passed regards to his wife, Tessie, that angered his colleagues.”M’mkindia told the Cabinet that I no longer worked for the government.” After the 1997 General Election, Mudavadi was dropped from Finance in favour of Simeon Nyachae, one of his foremost critics.His next stop would be the Agriculture docket.

Mystery of ‘General’ Miguna’s re-entry into Raila’s circle

Miguna Miguna

In Summary

  • Mr Mudavadi recaps Mr Miguna’s bitter fallout with Mr Odinga in 2011 and how he had gone on to “say very appalling things in the media and in a book which he published in 2013.”
  • “But how he suddenly metamorphosed into a member of our team and to the non-existent position of NRM General remains a mystery.”

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi now claims that Raila Odinga became a political lone ranger, shortly after the 2017 General Election, and unilaterally made decisions without consulting the other principals within Nasa.

DISRUPTIVE

In his just-published memoirs, Mr Mudavadi says they were all shocked when Mr Odinga — out of the blue — formed the National Resistance Movement (NRM), which was taken over by controversial lawyer Miguna Miguna to prepare for Mr Odinga’s swearing-in as people’s president.

Mr Mudavadi, then a key ally of Mr Odinga, says Mr Miguna’s entry into Nasa activities was mysterious and disruptive of the smooth running of the post-2017 General Election affairs of the coalition.

“I must emphasise, NRM was not a creation of Nasa, nor was it a Nasa organ. It was just as mysterious to me as was the manner in which it was first introduced to Kenyans. So, too, was the sudden emergence of Miguna Miguna ‘the NRM General’,” Mr Mudavadi writes.

In Soaring Above the Storms of Passion, Mr Mudavadi traces the controversial lawyer’s return to ODM leader Raila Odinga’s fold to a rally on October 25, 2017, a day before the repeat presidential election.

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SECOND POLL

It all started on October 10 when Mr Odinga pulled out of the second presidential race after the first one was nullified by the Supreme Court and announced that he had an earth-shaking message which he would unveil on October 25.

“I did not know what this earth-shaking message was. I established that none of the other three principals knew (it). And so like the rest of the country, we waited for October 25, 2017,” Mr Mudavadi writes.

He says he nonetheless rallied behind the decision of their candidate even though not all principals were in support of pulling out of the election.

Apparently, the withdrawal had been hinged on the electoral commission’s statement earlier that only Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga would be eligible to take part in the repeat poll and Nasa believed that if they pulled out, the election would not take place.

UHURU PARK

But a day after Mr Odinga withdrew from the race, the High Court ruled that the repeat ballot must have all the names of the people who had participated in the annulled poll.

“It would be dishonest to say that this situation did not throw us off balance. We may have put on brave faces in public but internally we knew things were not good at all,” he writes.

The withdrawal was to become a bone of contention within the coalition in the intervening days.

Some of the Nasa lawyers who pushed for participation in the October 26 poll argued that after the Supreme Court win, the momentum had been built and that rigging would not have been possible.

“October 25, 2017, a day before the repeat poll, our supporters began turning up very early in the morning for our much-anticipated rally at Uhuru Park. Kenya held its breath, waiting for us to unveil our next course of action,” writes Mr Mudavadi.

BIG MESSAGE

Unbeknown to the country, however, Nasa had no earth-shaking message, according to the accounts in Soaring Above the Storms of Passion, published by The Mudavadi Memorial Foundation Trust Fund, in association with Midas Touch Media Limited.

It was only hours before the rally at Uhuru Park, however, at a meeting in Mr Mudavadi’s offices in Riverside, Nairobi, that he and the other principals realised that there was no big message to take to their supporters, the book claims.

“We had remained patient all the time when he (Odinga) told us to wait for the right time to know the message … Amid mouthfuls of tea and peanuts, he announced that he would tell Kenyans that we would not recognise Uhuru after the repeat election to be conducted the next day,” Mr Mudavadi writes.

TALKING POINTS

He says at this point Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula interjected: “But Tinga, that is what we have been saying all along. What is new about that? That cannot be the big announcement that we have been promising the world.”

From the talk of secession and storming of State House that some of Nasa supporters had been pushing for, the ”big announcement” was becoming a big disappointment, Mudavadi writes.

“Eventually, a member of our ANC party came up with the thought of non-violent resistance against the government and all institutions and individuals who were aborting democracy in the country. The idea was quickly picked up and, before long, there was a message of sorts to take to Uhuru Park.”

It was at this point that they left for Raila’s office in Upper Hill where the new message would be incorporated into Mr Odinga’s talking points. “The assignment was left to David Ndii, Dennis Onyango and (James) Orengo. They were presently done with the task and we left for Uhuru Park, next door, in a speedy motorcade.”

NEW DIMENSION

He writes that even though there were “stirrings of excitement in the crowd”, it was not like anything they had become used to during the campaigns.

Mr Mudavadi writes that Mr Odinga read through the prepared speech “with a sense of conviction and purpose.” He painted a picture of many false dawns that had been frustrated, and outlined what he called the fresh and final phase of struggle and urged Kenyans not to relent “until the oppressors were removed.”

He urged Kenyans of goodwill to boycott the repeat elections — scheduled for the next day — and told the youth to keep away from harm’s way. He also asked Kenyans to boycott goods and services from businesses deemed to be benefiting from the dictatorship that was being entrenched.”

“At this point, Raila introduced a new dimension. Nasa, he declared, had now transformed into the National Resistance Movement (NRM).”

Mudavadi says this development took the other principals by surprise as it had not been discussed, let alone agreed on.

PROCLAMATIONS

“He would explain to us later that seeing the crowd was not sufficiently enthused by what he was reading, it had suddenly occurred to him that he should make this proclamation,” Mr Mudavadi writes.

The former Vice-President says that from this point NRM, more or less, took charge of the affairs of Nasa in the run-up to the controversial swearing-in of Mr Odinga on January 30, 2018.

“Soon enough NRM would begin taking a life of its own away from the formal Nasa Management Team and constituent parties and their organs.”

He says that in public he, Mr Musyoka and Mr Wetang’ula lent support to the proclamations but, away from the public limelight, made spirited attempts to have Mr Odinga speak with them in the same voice.

“Not all the cards were being placed on the table. Our ODM colleagues seemed to know something that the rest of us did not know. This state of affairs would culminate in the so-called swearing-in affair.”

ECONOMIC BOYCOTT

Some of the companies that were named in the economic boycott included Safaricom Ltd which had been hired by IEBC to transmit election results from the Kenya Integrated Electoral Management Systems (KIEMS) kits at the polling stations to the IEBC servers in the 2017 election and Brookside Dairies, which is owned by President Kenyatta’s family.

Mr Mudavadi recaps Mr Miguna’s bitter fallout with Mr Odinga in 2011 and how he had gone on to “say very appalling things in the media and in a book which he published in 2013.” Mr Miguna ran for the Nairobi governor position in August 8 election and lost.

“How he suddenly metamorphosed into a member of our team and to the non-existent position of NRM General remains a mystery.”

But yesterday, Mr Miguna said he was never in Nasa, and that he founded NRM in October 2017 long after the elections.

“I was not in the Nasa campaigns. I was an independent candidate and campaigned on my own. I founded NRMKe in October 2017 long after their a** had been kicked,” the Canada-based lawyer said in a tweet.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Mr Mudavadi contends that to introduce a new instrument midway in the life of a political party or outfit would have required it to be registered with the Registrar of Political Parties or at least for the existing party organs to recognise and endorse it.

Some within Nasa, however, felt that NRM was just the perfect weapon needed to rally their supporters behind the civil disobedience and pile pressure on the government.

It is this group that Mr Mudavadi blames for proposing certain extremities and announcing them without adequate consultation and consensus.

“These included the proposition to swear in Raila as the People’s President. We did not know — certainly I didn’t know — who was going to swear him in until when, after a number of hiccups, the name of the self-proclaimed NRM General Miguna cropped up again.”

SECESSION IDEA

Mr Mudavadi writes of the protracted debate within Nasa on what would follow the swearing-in. At a meeting held at Maanzoni on November 25, Mr Mudavadi writes, speakers broached the idea of secession, but Mr Odinga reportedly said it would be useless to take up the Bible, utter a few words that sounded like being sworn in and “after that drive back to his regular residence in Karen.”

“When I take the oath, I must become the president,” Mr Mudavadi reports Mr Odinga as saying. He went on: “I don’t want to become a comic like Kizza Besigye of Uganda. I want to be like Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe.”

Amani National Coalition (ANC) Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi has penned a memoir that has unraveled the tense moments that characterized the 2017 post-election mess as the NASA coalition sought to challenge the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mudavadi’s memoir, Soaring Above the Storms of Passion, paints Odinga as a man under pressure who was willing to play tricks on both friend and foe to overcome the difficult situation before him.

Some of Mudavadi’s claims have also corroborated what had already been written by exiled Kenyan activist Miguna Miguna who was part of Odinga’s team in the aftermath of August General Election.

For instance, Mudavadi writes of the plan to have a parallel swearing in ceremony for Odinga.

The plan received a lot of opposition from the international community and the ANC Party Leader says one Western country went as far as to cancel Odinga’s visa and that of many of his allies.

Mudavadi was in the team of those who believed the Opposition chief should not have been sworn in but Odinga was also under a lot of pressure from the swearing in diehards who included Miguna Miguna, James Orengo, Jimmy Wanjigi, Raila Junior, among others.

As the pressure mounted, Mudavadi, in consultation with Raila and the technical team decided to announce the postponement of the swearing in ceremony that had been expected to take place on December 12th 2018.

Just before Mudavadi could make the announcement during a press conference at Okoa Kenya office, Raila became untraceable.

Unknown to Mudavadi, the Opposition chief was holed up in Jimmy Wanjigi’s house in Muthaiga where the Okoa Kenya TV had planned to film a swearing in ceremony which would then be distributed on the internet.

The team in Wanjigi’s house did not know that Raila had already directed the swearing in ceremony to be postponed, and kept asking Mudavadi why he was taking too long to make the announcement.

I learnt from people present that Raila seemed to have been very shocked to watch us on TV calling off the swearing in. He is reported to have said, “Oh they are calling it off?”At this point the swearing in at Muthaiga was called off. Before we left for the Okoa Kenya offices, he had called me to ask why we were taking long to make the announcement,” Mudavadi writes in his new book.

The former Vice President’s version of events matches Miguna’s narration of the incident at Wanjigi’s house where he had been called to swear in Raila.

Here is how Miguna narrated the event:

[At about 3 p.m., the vehicle pulled outside Wanjigi’s Muthaiga mansion. Wanjigi welcomed us to one of his lounges where we watched soccer, ate lunch and reminisced. After about fifteen minutes, Winnie arrived. She did not look happy. I soon realized that we were supposed to swear Raila in at Wanjigi’s house that afternoon.

I asked for a printer and managed to print both the oath and speech. I had carried my commission stamp in my computer bag. We were all dressed in suits, as Muthama had asked us to do earlier. Although Wanjigi was not in a suit, I considered it a non-issue because we were in his home and he could change into one easily within minutes.

Raila, Jr. and his NASA TV crew had arrived earlier and set up their equipment in a separate wing of Wanjigi’s palatial home. At 3:30 p.m., Raila walked in, dressed in jeans, a casual shirt and sports jacket. He was on the phone.

We kept quiet and waited for him to finish. Thereafter, we greeted each other, he served himself food from the buffet, poured himself a cup of tea and started eating as he watched soccer. The Arsenal Football Club (Arsenal) was on TV. We all knew that when the Arsenal team was playing, Raila could not focus or hold any reasonable discussion outside cheering or criticizing the players. So, we waited for the game to end before engaging in any serious discussions.

When the Arsenal team finished playing, Orengo briefed Raila on the draft speech and oath. I handed Raila copies of both, which he glanced over quickly and made one minor correction, still distracted. I noticed that he did not actually read the speech up to the end. He placed a call and left the room, still speaking on his mobile phone.

It was now getting late and dark. Muthama, Orengo and I looked worried. Wanjigi was relaxed. Winnie was anxious. She could hardly sit still. But Raila seemed to be having a long discussion on the phone. After ten minutes of suspense, Orengo and Muthama left the room and walked on the grass towards the stone fence. Raila was standing about fifty metres away from them. Wanjigi, Winnie and I kept vigil inside the room.

“I don’t think he wants to be sworn in today,” Winnie said.

“Look at the way he is dressed,” she added.

After about ten minutes, Raila returned to the room where we were, with Muthama and Orengo following behind.

“Mudavadi and Weta are insisting that we postpone… They are going to address the media at Okoa Kenya just now,” Raila said, sounding as if that decision was made without his knowledge or approval.

As soon as he said that, Muthama passed me his mobile phone.

“Breaking news! Raila’s swearing in on December 12 has been postponed,” I read from the Nation mobile news alert. We looked at each other — Orengo, Jimmy and me. We were thunderstruck.

Muthama tried to support the postponement, but Wanjigi and I did not let him get far. Orengo was blowing hot and cold. Winnie said nothing in front of Raila.

Wanjigi was livid, or so I believed. He reminded Raila of the expectations of millions of his supporters.

Then Mudavadi, Wetang’ula and Makueni Governor, Kivutha Kibwana came on TV.

Mudavadi was reading a statement. We watched and listened: “Following extensive internal consultations and engagements with a wide range of national and international interlocutors, the Nasa leadership wishes to advise the Nasa fraternity and the general public that the swearing in of the Right Honourable Raila Amolo Odinga and His Excellency Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka as President and Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya and the People’s Assembly. Scheduled for Tuesday, December 12, have been postponed to a later date,” he said.

“So, how could Kivutha have known about the press conference and travelled all the way from Makueni if this was not planned? Why was I woken up at 7:30 a.m. and asked to spend hours preparing these,” I said placing the speech and oath on the table.

Raila was seated to my immediate left. Orengo was to my immediate right. “Why come all the way here if you knew that you would not go through with it?” I asked Raila. I was livid.

Raila tried to give us excuses, claiming that Mudavadi, Wetang’ula and Kivutha acted alone; that they only informed him minutes before they had addressed the media.]

Kevin Spahlet

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