Fallout in UDA over 'endorsements'
Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has moved to avert a fallout over nominations amid fears that some candidates are party favourites.
Following political events on Tuesday last week where the second-in-command endorsed some of his allies for certain seats, UDA members are demanding assurances of fair primaries. The DP has said the primaries will be fair and no one will be favoured.
“You do not need to be known by William Ruto. You do not need to be known by any person. Only voters are important because they are the ones who will determine who is better than the other in the Hustler Movement,” said Dr Ruto when he met a delegation from Nakuru County recently.
Days after making the promise, however, he endorsed Senator Irungu Kang’ata for Murang’a governor, Susan Kihika for Nakuru governor and Mr Edward Muriu for the Gatanga parliamentary seat. Yesterday, UDA Secretary General Veronica Maina said no one has been endorsed by the DP or party for any seat and that his comments on Tuesday had been taken out of context.
“He was simply commending the leaders on the work that they are doing,” she said.
Ms Maina said the party’s candidates for various seats will be decided on by voters. Endorsing close allies could be interpreted as UDA following in the footsteps of the ruling Jubilee Party where the DP was accused of dishing out party tickets to people he wanted more so in Mt Kenya.
Outfoxed President Uhuru Kenyatta
Read: Split in DP Ruto camp over coalition stance
In carefully calculated political manoeuvres, Dr Ruto has outfoxed President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, bagging over 25 leaders from the “Handshake” duo’s camp. Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga on the other hand have only received five leaders defecting from Dr Ruto’s Tangatanga camp since March 2018.
The latest defectors from the President’s Kieleweke wing of the ruling Jubilee Party were four MPs with reports indicating that more are on the way including cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries. The ruling party’s woes have been blamed on how it conducted nominations in 2017. Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Wamuchomba and Githunguri MP Gabriel Kago shifted their allegiance to the Tangatanga faction, as did Nakuru East MP David Gikaria and Samuel Gachobe of Subukia. The DP met them at his Karen residence in Nairobi recently.
During the chaotic 2017 nominations, the party cancelled the exercise amid complaints that Dr Ruto’s allies in the Tangatanga camp, more so those from the Mt Kenya region, were favoured.
Jubilee deputy secretary general Joshua Kutuny, who is also Cherang’any MP, said the DP took advantage of the goodwill he was enjoying from President Kenyatta to rock the party from within.
As his word was law in Jubilee Party in 2017, the former political advisor to the Head of State claims, the DP favoured his people in the party line-up.
“One of the biggest challenges that we have identified is interference during the nominations. There are some people who feel that they lost unfairly in the nomination because they were denied the ticket,” he revealed yesterday.
Nyeri Town Ngunjiri Wambugu said that, between 2013 and 2017, the DP identified leaders who could be stumbling blocks in his State House quest and used the 2017 nominations to fix them, a sentiment echoed by Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe.
Igembe North MP Maoka Maore, who is also deputy majority whip in the National Assembly, and former Tetu MP Ndung’u Gethenji said popular politicians were rigged out in 2017.
However, Soy MP Caleb Kositany, who is perceived as DP’s de-facto spokesperson, rubbishes the claims, citing the recent by-election losses Jubilee has suffered in Juja and Kiambaa.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, another Ruto ally, termed the allegations as baseless, pointing out that those who felt that were rigged out during the party primaries vied as independent candidates but were still defeated.
“If they were as strong as claimed, why did they lose? We have had by-elections where Jubilee has lost in five places, so why do they feel that party is strong?” Mr Gachagua posed in an interview.
Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono and his Kiharu counterpart Ndindi Nyoro disclosed that talks are underway to ensure that many leaders join the DP’s camp.