Mudavadi: Indecisive beneficiary of luck, victim of ‘betrayals’

Saturday December 07 2019

Following the 1989 death of his father Moses Mudamba Mudavadi, President Daniel Moi picked the young Mudavadi to replace his father. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP


For the most part of his long political career, Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi has presented himself to the public as the “safe pair of hands” that Kenya needs, a theme he repeatedly returns to in his newly-released autobiography, Soaring above the Storms of Passion.

To other observers, the book also portrays a man whose political destiny has not been in his own hands, but in the hands of others, beginning from his entry into politics at the age of 29.

Following the 1989 death of his father Moses Mudamba Mudavadi, President Daniel Moi picked the young Mudavadi to replace his father.

At the age of 29, he became one of the youngest Cabinet ministers ever when Moi appointed him minister for Supplies and Marketing.

His political star rose even higher when President Moi appointed him Kenya’s fifth Finance Minister in 1993, and was widely considered one of the young, up-and-coming leading lights around President Moi.



He was thought of as a possible successor to President Moi until the latter plucked then-political novice Uhuru Kenyatta and anointed him as his preferred successor in the 2002 presidential poll.

Many heavyweights in the then ruling party Kanu, among them Raila Odinga, George Saitoti, William Ntimama and Joseph Kamotho, left the party.

Initially, Mr Mudavadi was in this lot of Moi’s ministers who had openly rebelled against his choice of Mr Kenyatta, but he abandoned them at the last minute.

On November 4, 2002, barely two months to the General Election, Mr Mudavadi jumped off the opposition bandwagon and joined Mr Kenyatta’s camp after President Moi appointed him vice-president.

That decision earned him the dubious distinction of serving the shortest stint as vice-president, but also created an image of an indecisive leader.


Mr Mudavadi regained some measure of respect and confidence from the public when he turned down a nomination by Kanu to Parliament in 2003.

He threw his hat into the ring for the 2007 presidential election under ODM, but he intimates in his book that Mr Odinga played games on him during presidential nominations, resulting in his being beaten at the ballot box.

He threw his hat into the ring for the 2013 presidential contest but was betrayed once again by Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto, who allegedly had vowed to back him, before beating a hasty retreat.

The retreat was made most memorable by Mr Kenyatta’s mademoni (demons) comment, which he said had almost convinced him to drop his presidential ambitions in favour of Mr Mudavadi.

“The demons were cautioned not to try and reap where they had not sown, or gather where they had not scattered. We understood we were the demons,” Mr Mudavadi writes in his book.


Throughout the campaigns, he suffered the public perception that he was a project of the “deep state”, which was opposed to Mr Kenyatta’s candidacy of.

Despite talk that then-President Mwai Kibaki’s personal secretary Nick Wanjohi was among those behind the formation of United Democratic Front (UDF), which Mr Mudavadi was vying on, Prof Wanjohi did not feature anywhere in the party records.

During the 2017 presidential contest, Mr Mudavadi threw his weight behind Mr Odinga, although he laments extensively in his book that Mr Odinga ran the campaign in secrecy and to his exclusion and that of his co-principals in Nasa.