Why William Ruto is upset with small parties

Why William Ruto is upset with small parties

Deputy President William Ruto addresses a rally in Machakos town on December 1, 2021.

Photo credit: DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto has stepped up attacks on new parties, which he discredits as tribal outfits, suggesting he’s feeling the heat of coalition schemes by his rivals ahead of next year’s General Election.

It would appear President Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga are propping up regional parties — at least 10 have emerged in Mt Kenya alone — to take on the DP’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and rivals in the One Kenya Alliance (OKA) who refuse to play ball.

As his rivals have intensified plans to form a broad coalition, the DP has consistently sought to portray these efforts as a coalescing of tribal chiefs whose mission, he says, is to block him from the presidency.

“Let us all rally behind solid political parties that are centred on the issues of the people,” he told a delegation from Samburu and Kajiado Counties at his Karen residence in Nairobi on Tuesday.

That day, the Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K) associated with Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa was launched, becoming the latest of 11 parties that have backed ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja Movement.

The parties are associated with Cabinet Secretaries and governors, who are allied to the President’s camp.

“They are using outdated strategies to avoid defeat. How will I fail to defeat them if they are still coalescing in tribal outfits?” DP Ruto posed to another delegation from Tharaka Nithi on August 17.

On December 5, the DP told a rally in Laikipia: “The attempt to divide the people of Kenya into tribal and regional parties is an attempt to divide the country by people who have no agenda to sell to the people.”

Earlier in Machakos, on June 27, he had said the era of politicians uniting to form tribal political outfits was long gone.

A majority of the parties on the radar of the DP — who also acquired UDA this year — are in Mt Kenya, Ukambani, Gusii, and North Eastern regions.

But the DP is particularly livid with the revival of parties in Mt Kenya where his UDA is considered popular. His allies insist the regional parties are being sponsored solely to back Mr Odinga and give the impression that he is forging a broad coalition.

Fringe political parties

“The regional parties are state projects and what they are doing is to try to create something like tribal enclaves to use for negotiations,” Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei claimed.

“Now that they have failed to build a coalition with Wetang’ula and Mudavadi teams, they’re heavily funding other regional parties to show that Tinga [Mr Odinga] has everybody on board,” Mr Cherargei added, alluding to Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and his Amani National Congress (ANC) counterpart Musalia Mudavadi’s resistance to back the ODM leader.

“Let them set aside their personal interests, collapse all these tribal parties and come up with Azimio la Umoja as a political party,” said UDA Chairman Johnson Muthama.

The DP has even resisted parties whose leaders back his presidential bid, like The Service Party (TSP) of former Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria’s Chama cha Kazi as he is not keen on pre-election coalition deals in which he commits to share power.

But on his tour of Western region on Wednesday, the DP seemed to backtrack on the vow not to embrace other parties as he reached out to Mr Wetang’ula and Mr Mudavadi. His allies pointedly invited the two to seal pre-election coalition agreements with the DP.

The other discomfort with fringe parties is that the local competition they create could see them bag some seats. This will undermine UDA’s quest to secure a majority in Parliament and county assemblies.

Meru governor’s Devolution Empowerment Party, CS Peter Munya’s Party of National Unity, former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo’s Tujibebe Wakenya Party, Usawa Kwa Wote Party of Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, Martha Karua’s Narc Kenya,

The People’s Empowerment Party and the New Democrats, whose chairman is Nyeri politician Thuo Mathenge and President Kibaki’s son, Jimmy, is the deputy party leader are among other parties eyeing to field candidates in Mt Kenya.