|A section of the crowd that attended the launch of TNA in Nairobi early this year. [FILE]|
By Amos Kareithi
The youngest kid on the block, The National Alliance (TNA) has outmuscled older parties in Central and is now threatening to elbow them out of Nairobi.
So far, Party of National Unity the party that propelled President Kibaki to State House has almost disbanded itself and has pledged undying love to TNA— a party it had dismissed as a nonentity a few months back.
The political haemorrhage has started as Mkenya Solidarity founder GG Kariuki too is reported to have abandoned his party like Safina MP, Kabando wa Kabando and presidential aspirant, Mutava Musyimi who have joined TNA, in what appears to be a fresh wave of migration. Despite its apparent meteoritic rise, The County Weekly has unravelled some of the booby traps and behind the scenes manoeuvres the young political party and its founder, Uhuru Kenyatta had to sidestep to stump its authority in Mt Kenya region and other areas.
Attempts to lure Uhuru
We have established there have been attempts to lure Uhuru to join one of the many political parties that had declared their support to his presidential ambition so as unwittingly handcuff and collectively own him.
The plot was hatched by some commercially minded politicians, who wanted to use him during the campaigns and later use their parties to demand favours in exchange of support in parliamentary debates, should he make the next government.
According to some observers, Central Province MPs have been blackmailing President Kibaki whenever there were major Motions in Parliament because they could not be whipped into shape since they belonged to parties affiliated to PNU.
Uhuru supporters have explained that the next dispensation was such that the next president would have to have many MPs because he and his Cabinet would not be in Parliament.
“You can imagine the humiliation a president will have if he can not have enough MPs to support his policies when tabled in Parliament. It would be humiliating for a president to continually beg small parties to back his Bills,” a source close to Uhuru said.
Multiple sources we talked to intimated that when the debate of fielding one presidential candidate was mooted in 2010, by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, the late Cabinet minister George Saitoti and Uhuru an year ago, it instantly hit political headwinds.
During a meeting at Norfolk Hotel on October I, 2010, the three reached an agreement that they forge a common vehicle to the next General Election.
Collapse of PNU Alliance
Kalonzo felt he was entitled to be nominated as the presidential candidate because he was the Vice President and the senior most of the partners, but Saitoti retorted that he too had served as VP for 12 years and that he held an influential docket of Internal security.
Uhuru reminded the two that it would be wrong for politicians to nominate themselves as presidential candidate without involving the electorate. The PNU Alliance’s unity bid flopped and the allies went separate paths
It was after this meeting and the resultant stalemate that Kalonzo rebranded his ODM-Kenya into Wiper Democratic Movement while Saitoti took renewed interest in revitalising PNU as he held rallies across the country popularising himself.
Uhuru too tried to reconcile the warring sides in Kanu and ultimately quit, declaring that he was no longer interested in running for the presidency on its ticket. He started shopping for a suitable party to use for his presidential campaign.
Kanu had been dogged by controversies and court cases filed by disgruntled officials, who were unhappy with his political decisions and had even an order restraining party from recruiting members.
With the collapse of PNU Alliance, Energy Minister Kiraitu Muriungi formed Alliance Party of Kenya, hoping to attract Uhuru who was now partyless. Saitoti was enraged and called for the disbandment of PNU Alliance as it was using his party’s name.
“All this time, Uhuru was very clear. He did not want to repeat the mistake made by President Kibaki who was elected by a coalition of parties, but could not marshal enough MPs to drive his agenda in Parliament. Uhuru wanted a situation where his supporters would belong to a political party,” a source explained.
Insiders recalled how Kibaki tried to have Kenya Anti Corruption chief Aaron Ringera retained, but flopped because he did not have the numbers as PNU allied MPs demanded money to support his choice.
According to some of Uhuru’s supporters, their presidential candidate abandoned APK because it had been reduced into a Mt Kenya region outfit, which would make it a difficult sell in other parts of the country. Uhuru and his people also feared since he, Kalonzo and Saitoti jointly owned APK this could later lead to controversies as each leader had equal shareholding.
Signs of trouble for the fledgling unity were evident after a meeting was held in Norfolk Hotel where Amos Kimunya (PNU), Mwangi Kiunjuri (GNU), Kiraitu Murungi (APK) and Uhuru met and signed a pact where they were to hold joint nominations.
However, when the officials reported to their parties members rejected the proposal since it was tantamount to dissolving their parties.
One GNU aspirant in Central Kenya, who requested not to be named for fear of backlash, said their long held fears have finally come to pass.
“Uhuru has become a phenomenon and our parties are at risk. Anybody trying to stop this wave will be crashed. However, I am opposed to the way TNA, seem to be dictating what should happen,” the official said.
He likened the dissolution of smaller political parties as demanded by TNA to a man who is housed in his brother’s palatial mansion on condition that he flattens his hovel and warned that should relations become sour, the man would be rendered homeless.
According to Uhuru’s spokesman, Munyori Buku, the verdict of TNA’s popularity was returned on September 17, this year when the young party bagged Kangema and parliamentary by elections against all odds.
The by-election also vindicated Uhuru who had been crusading for strong united and democratic party as opposed to disparate outfits that backed one presidential candidate, but fielded many parliamentary and ward representative candidates.
Emboldened by the outcome of the by elections, TNA was able to attract 36 MPs for a retreat in Naivasha where ODM lawmaker Rachael Shebesh made her debut on Uhuru’s side.
During the Naivasha meeting, it was agreed that TNA be build into a formidable party and pave way for recruitment of members by September 30.
During the meeting, some leaders proposed that aspirants for the various posts be chosen through a delegate system instead of general polls.
“The MPs were worried that if open polls were held they would lose out to their opponents, but Uhuru stuck to his guns asserting that the principal of one man one vote be applied to ensure only the strongest of candidates would prevail,” a source who attended the meeting said.
Free and fair democratic nominations, TNA secretary General, Onyango Oloo, said that step would invigorate the party and ensure it breaks away from the trend where some posts are reserved for specific politicians.
Grand National Union Secretary General Nderitu Gachagua stressed that his party would remain steadfast in its support of Uhuru’s bid, but maintained that they would field candidates in all other seats except the presidency.
“There is no justification for the euphoria we are witnessing now. Elections are five months away. We expected TNA to win in Kangema and Kajiado. We fear the hype of TNA’s strength is being orchestrated by ODM so as to make the party overconfident and careless,” warned.
He explained that although GNU was going to field its own candidates it supported zoning of cosmopolitan areas such as Nairobi and Nakuru to ensure that Uhuru friendly parties did not compete and give rivals an advantage.