Opposition chief Raila Odinga and Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua have held talks amid increased political realignment since the March 2018 handshake between the ODM leader and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
During the meeting on Wednesday at Mr Odinga’s Capital Hill office in Nairobi, the two vouched for a heightened war against corruption.
The meeting between the leaders of Maendeleo Chap Chap and ODM parties was seen as a move to mend their relationship that appeared to have waned since the era of the grand coalition government when Dr Mutua was the government spokesman.
In the 2017 elections, Dr Mutua rallied behind President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election while, at the regional level, Mr Odinga backed former assistant minister Wavinya Ndeti to be Machakos governor.
“Unknown to many, I have always had great rapport with this great leader (Mr Odinga) and we have remained friends. I have a lot of respect for him and his wife Mama Ida. His late son Fidel was my friend and I keep in touch with his children,” Dr Mutua said on Wednesday.
He said that during the meeting, they reminisced the days they worked closely together when Mr Odinga was minister of Roads and later prime minister under President Mwai Kibaki and he was the government spokesman.
“We talked of his position then in the opposition and the process of the grand coalition government,” said the Machakos governor.
Dr Mutua added that Mr Odinga was happy that during the days of the grand coalition, “I stood with Kibaki 100 percent and later with Uhuru Kenyatta percent and now with the two leaders.”
The governor, who has expressed his interest in vying for the presidency, said they had agreed to continue sharing ideas on the 2022 General Election and formation of coalitions with Mr Odinga.
“Ideally, we agreed that winner-takes-it-all electoral system is responsible for many problems in our country and must be changed,” Dr Mutua said.
Mr Odinga’s spokesman Dennis Onyango said his boss and Dr Mutua exchanged views on various matters of national interest with particular focus on the handshake, war on corruption and the overall state of the nation.
“The two agreed on the need for a collaborative effort to tackle some of the underlying issues that deter the transformation of the country’s politics and economy. They further agreed to work together to foster harmony and minimise negative ethnic competition in all areas of national life,” Mr Onyango said.
He added that Mr Odinga had also agreed to Governor Mutua’s invitation to visit Machakos “soon on an official development tour”.
The visit would be a big boost for Dr Mutua who has been fighting for the control of Lower Eastern votes with Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, as he strategizes to contest for the presidency in 2022.
An upbeat Dr Mutua, who shared pleasantries with Mr Odinga, said they discussed “transformative ideas”.
“When people have asked me what I think of Raila Odinga, I have always told them that I admire him as a person and leader even though we have been in different political persuasions. I believe this is what Kenya needs - unity in diversity - where leaders respect each other’s position, opinions and ideologies even when in different political formations,” said Dr Mutua.
He described Mr Odinga as a development conscious leader, “who has sacrificed a lot and means well for this country”.
He said his party backs the unity between President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga for a cohesive nation.
Saying they had both been outspoken about grand theft of public resources and the culture of impunity, Dr Mutua revealed that they agreed to fight corruption and corrupt people who are rendering “our mothers and children poorer”.
“Corruption kills and destroys and has to be eliminated from our society,” he said.
The governor said that he and Mr Odinga agreed that it is important to create an enabling environment for economic growth.