Bid to fold Musalia, Wetang’ula parties flops at State House

Thursday, May 9th, 2024 03:44 | By
President William Ruto consults with party leaders Musalia Mudavadi (ANC) and Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya) during a past campaign at Eshisiru in Lurambi on May 6, 2022. PHOTO/Print

An attempt by President William Ruto to convince Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula to fold their political parties and join the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) fell flat when the two rejected his overtures.

The President had summoned Mudavadi and Wetangula with their Amani National Congress (ANC) and Ford Kenya allies to State House last Friday, March 2 with the hope of convincing them to fold up their entities ahead of this year’s Madaraka Day celebrations to be held in Bungoma.

Invites to the ANC and Ford Kenya had earlier indicated that the meeting was to discuss some of the pressing socio-economic issues bedevilling the Western region that the President would include in his Madaraka Day speech.

The legislators had also been told that the meeting was to make a follow up on some of the promises made by the President to the region, particularly the expansion of Kakamega Airstrip, completion of Kakamega Teaching and Referral Hospital and its conversion into Level 6, revival of Mumias and Nzoia Sugar Factories and the upgrade of road networks.

Secret card

But things took a new twist when President Ruto unleashed his secret card on them, with a direct request to them to make a public declaration on their joining UDA.

According to a cross section of MPs who were in attendance but declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, the President asked the ANC and Ford Kenya leaders to make the declarations through their proxies to test waters.

ANC Secretary General Cleophas Malala and Tongaren MP John Chakaiti who were in attendance confirmed they were called to the State house, but declined to divulge any details. “It is normal for the President to meet various leaders at the State House and this particular one was no exception. Whatever is discussed at the State House, remains there,” said Malala.

ANC Secretary Beatrice Adagala confirmed that they had turned down overtures by the president on them to fold up their parties. “Yes it is true there was something like that, but this is not the time for dissolving political parties but to work for the electorate,” she said.

Most Ford Kenya and ANC MPs from Kakamega and Bungoma counties were in attendance.

The President is reported to have said that a declaration by the two on Madaraka Day that they have dissolved their political outfits to join UDA would give him some political mileage.

“You can use your political proxies to start testing the waters, before you make the public declaration on Madaraka Day. By joining UDA, you will have shown your unequivocal support to me and my government,” the President is reported to have told Mudavadi and Wetangula.

Having one party

The President is then said to have taken time to extol the positives of having one UDA party, that including guaranteeing him a resounding victory at the 2027 presidential polls. “It is my wish to have a strong political party with a national outlook that is headed by one party leader, one secretary general and chairman representing the face of the country,” the President reportedly told his astounded audience.

First to respond to the President’s request was Wetangula who did not mince his words, claiming that he would be committing a “political suicide” by folding Ford Kenya to join UDA, a political entity he described as “a new boy on the political scene.”

Wetang’ula claimed Ford Kenya was apparently the second oldest party in the country after Kanu, and remained the political vehicle for his Bukusu people in Bungoma and Trans Nzoia counties.

“The political backlash at home would be immense and that could be the end of my political career. We are ready to work with UDA under Kenya Kwanza as equal partners. This issue of folding our Ford Kenya to join UDA is not in our plans,” Wetangula stated.

Petty politics

Wetangula also challenged the president whether it was true that he was behind the attacks on him and Mudavadi by Trans Nzoia governor George Natembeya, to which the president responded he was above such petty politics and told the leaders “to go back and sort out their in-house issues.”

Taking the cue from Wetangula, Bungoma governor Ken Lusaka is said to have warned that the people of Bungoma and Trans Nzoia would not take it lightly when their leaders dissolved a party founded by the late Masinde Muliro and Kijana Wamalwa.

“Ford Kenya is there to stay in Kenya Kwanza. Because our people would be mad with us if we killed a party founded by the late Masinde Muliro and Wamalwa Kijana. In fact the party has survived the rigours of the time because of the values that Kijana Wamalwa left behind that are still in existence,” he said.

It was then that Mudavadi, who had earlier shown willingness to dance to the President’s tune, took the podium and ruled out possibilities of ANC folding up any time soon.

He said though he is serving in his official capacity as the Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, he remained an ANC founder member.

“Governor Issa Timamy is only holding a brief for me because of the requirements of the law, but when the opportune time comes, you will see me returning to my position,” Mudavadi said.

Both Mudavadi and Wetangula also took issue with UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala and Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale for allegedly lacking respect for senior elected leaders from the region.

Wetangula particularly took issue with Malala, who was present, for persistently attacking him and Mudavadi and describing their parties as “village entities.”

Adagala, currently the ANC Secretary General, who was present at the meeting yesterday told the People Daily that their position on the dissolution of parties has not changed.

“I want to make it clear that the ANC party will not be folded since we are an independent party. For the avoidance of doubt, ANC is not merging either today or in the future,” Ms Adagala said.

“The party will continue to play its role in the Kenya Kwanza Coalition, particularly in helping the President to deliver on the coalition manifesto. Amidst the high cost of living, drought and a record number of Kenya seeking opportunities. The party is focused on improving the lives of Kenyans through its legislators in Parliament and not folding up,” she added.

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