After weeks of speculations and months of political brinkmanship Majority Leader, Aden Duale whose seat has been hanging on a cliff finally appeared saved to stay in his position for the remainder of the parliamentary term. Duale who was, until recently, a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto has had what pundits called a pyrrhic victory. Pyrrhic because he gave a lot to remain in the position that could be shortlived. May he have lost his erstwhile friend’s trust and the nation’s respect? The jury is still out and more on this later.
After Kipchumpa Murkomen and Susan Kihika were hounded out of office in what was largely seen as a war on the Deputy President and part of a succession game plan by the Kieleweke team allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, pundits and the public were predicting that the majority Leader will be the next to be shown the door by an alliance that was rumoured to have the backing of the President and Raila Odinga. Hon. Duale who was seen as a loud poster boy for the ruling Jubilee party and a staunch defender of the President and his deputy went quiet, not to be heard from, either in the media or in public gatherings. His forays with his ally and URP wing leader, the Deputy President dramatically reduced that people were quick to ask if Duale has abandoned his friend for political expediency. After the axe started falling on erstwhile vocal and staunch proponents of the Deputy President, Hon Duale went very quiet. His close confidants called his actions a tactical retreat. The bravado and chest-thumping ”I am no one’s guest in jubilee” and the ”I am a stakeholder in this party” changed to ”I am a performer and have fought for the government and the President’s agenda in parliament” and then came ”I am loyal to the party leader and president” that was thought to signal his complete abandoning of the Deputy President who has at this point in time come to symbolise the opposition in parliament, a position abandoned by ODM after the 2018 March handshake.
According to sources close to the corridor of power, the Majority Leader was sending political emissaries to the President’s men like David Murathe and Odinga’s confidants like the Suna East MP Junet Mohamed. After a political civil war broke out between the Majority Leader and his protege Garissa Governor Ali Korane, Korane was heard saying that Duale is lying to William Ruto and has been seen asking Junet to give him access to Odinga. Duale did not publicly deny this. Since then Hon. Duale shed his Raila-bashing and Ruto-praising trademark. Was this the time he defected to the new powers in place? Only time will tell.
David Murathe who resigned as Jubilee Vice-Chair in 2019 is the President’s chief political strategist. He has become the face of people and politicians close to President Uhuru Kenyatta who are said to be opposing Dr. William Ruto succeeding President Kenyatta. Akin to the 1973’s Kihika Kimani’s change-the-constitution pressure group that was to prevent the then, President Daniel Moi, from ascending to power after the death of the ageing Jomo Kenyatta, Murathe is a constant presence in media houses and a loyal basher of the Deputy President who propagates the Kieleweke agenda in the media. His high-octane political statement against the rise of Ruto to power has set the tempo for the Kieleweke group of politicians.
In an interview with one of the media houses, Murathe was heard praising Duale’s performance in parliament. Sources claim that Duale reached out to Murathe and after a meeting with the president was facilitated, in the mix was the upcoming referendum, the Somali equation, and the 2022 succession. The Majority Leader was said to have had no qualms throwing William Ruto under the bus. The understanding was that he will be fighting for and be loyal to the team’s business in parliament. In the coming days, people and pundits will be closely watching Duale’s conduct in the national assembly.
Other personalities mentioned to have come to the rescue of Aden Duale is Moi’s son Senator Gideon Moi who is the leader of Kanu which has a political pact with Uhuru’s TNA-wing of the now divided Jubilee. This was said to have come after Gideon was called by former power man and retired Chief of General Staff Mohamud Mohamed. Rtd General Mohamud’s daughter is married to Aden Duale. Mohamud and the Moi’s go back a long way and his plea has not fallen on deaf ears say sources. In the picture too was Gatissa Senator Mohamed Yusuf Haji, the system’s blue eyed boy and chair of the BBI secretariat. Mr Haji who enjoys cordial political rapport with the so-called deep state is a former powerful Provincial Commissioner in Moi’s government and a former State Minister. The young Kenyatta is said to respect him and seek advise. Mr Haji is the father of the director of public prosecution Nurdin Haji. Yusuf was said to have intervened to save Duale. Immediately after the PG meeting where the changes were effected, a picture emerged of Duale sharing a car with Yusuf Haji and the Kamukunhi member of parliament Yusuf Hassan. A wag was heard saying Duale had the look of a school truant taken back to the headmaster by his dad.
After the changes were enacted in yesterday’s jubilee and coalition meetings, a newspaper headline was seen screaming ”Ruto Saved Duale”. This was fake news. Dr. William Samoe Ruto cannot save anyone in the current environment, not even himself. His goose is cooked and the only thing that will save him is if he retreats and backs another candidate. His frequent meetings with ANC’s Mudavadi and other Western Kenya leaders were said to be about mooting an alliance. Only time will tell but Western Kenya is divided and as it stands now its bread is buttered on the part of ODM. The wealthy belligerent Atwoli, the two-term Governor of Bungoma Wycliff Oparanya and other heavyweights are loyal to ODM’s Raila Odinga which shaves off a whopping 60% of the Western votes more than enough to win the count in any contest.
Nation’s respect and the place of principle in politics
So what is in for Hon. Duale? The victory is said to be temporary. As I write Kieni MP Kanini Kega is reportedly collecting signatures to overturn yesterday’s decision and impeach the Majority Leader. If Hon Duale escapes unscathed what will become of him? If he abandons his political friend William Ruto will Kenyans see him as a man with no principles? Much as the public will dismiss principles in politics as a banter, at the back of their minds, they prefer one who stands his ground and shifts least in the days of confusion and the nights of long knives. In the early days of the handshake, Garissa Governor was heard saying that Duale has been trying to meet Raila’s gatekeeper Junet Mohamed behind the curtains. Hon. Junet is the Suna East MP. Neither Duale nor Junet denied or confirmed this claim. This was in an effort to portray Duale as a man who cannot be trusted and has no principles to stand on. Will this stick or will Kenyans move on and see this as the usual politics of survival? The politics of defection is not new in Kenya but there are politicians who stuck to their political sides and were swept away by the waves. Former Mombasa Senator Omar Hassan and immediate former Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu refused to budge to pressure albeit for different reasons and for different political purposes and paid the ultimate political price. But were the stakes too high for Duale and will he survive a second wave?