Small parties in race to garner support ahead of 2022 elections

POLITICS |

 

Movement United for Super Action Secretary-General Victor Ngatia (centre) with other officials and members during the launch of the party in Nakuru on August 8, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Small political parties are fighting to earn their space alongside big players as the clock ticks towards next year's General Election.

With just about 10 months to the polls, a sprouting of largely regional outfits, has rocked the political scene, buoyed by the collapse of major political outfits like the Jubilee Party.

The disintegration of National Super Alliance (NASA) has also sent a number of politicians back to the drawing board. Perhaps anticipating the fallouts that often characterise nominations by major political parties, the smaller outfits are going all out to woo those seeking elective office next year.

In Nyanza and Western regions, parties are propping themselves up to jolt the support of Raila Odinga’s ODM, Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Coalition (ANC) and Moses Wetangula’s Ford Kenya.

In the last couple of weeks, the parties have intensified grassroots mobilisation to win support, with those seeking to wrestle votes from Raila’s party already courting aspirants eyeing the ODM ticket.

A similar situation is also developing in western where several small parties are burning the midnight oil as they seek to give residents an alternative voice.

The parties are also hoping to form joint campaign teams akin to what was forged by defectors from ODM after chaotic nominations in 2017.

Sources say that some of the fringe parties have the support of Deputy President William Ruto, who is keen to use them to infiltrate Raila's backyard.

Most of the leaders behind the outfits are former Raila allies.

In the 2013 elections, fringe parties pulled surprises in parts of Nyanza where they won ward and National Assembly seats, and are set to reap the spoils of any fallout from ODM.

In Migori, People’s Democratic Movement (PDP) fronted by Migori Governor Okoth Obado is scheming to upstage ODM in Nyanza.

In the 2013 elections, PDP won the Migori gubernatorial race, Muhoroni parliamentary elections and a few MCA seats.

In the last few weeks, Obado has sustained grassroots mobilisation amid criticism from the ODM party that sponsored him for the second term.

The governor has vowed to give the Orange party a run for its money.

About two months ago, an attempt by ANC to forge an alliance with PDP flopped after ANC representatives and Obado failed to agree.

Other parties in the region include Citizen Conventions Party (CPP), Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG), Green Congress Movement Party, Federal Party, Communist Party of Kenya and United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party.

In Kisumu, CPP leader Grace Akumu says she is revamping the party to attract candidates ahead of the elections, while in Siaya, Ugenya MP David Ochieng of MDG party is also offering an alternative to ODM.

Early this year, the party fielded a candidate in the Kisumu North by-election but was trounced by the Orange party.

In the neighbouring Gem constituency, Booker Omole, the chairperson of CPK, who has declared interest in the parliamentary seat is also seeking to win support.

Forged alliance

He said the party has already forged an alliance with MDG in a bid to increase their support base in an area.

"There is a lot of hostility in Nyanza against other parties but we have made strides. We have already entered into working agreements with some of the parties," said Omole.

In Homa Bay, former Ndhiwa MP Augostino Neto is popularising GCM party.

He is among the former legislators who decamped from ODM after losing out in the nominations.

However, it remains to be seen whether the parties will have any meaningful impact in the region as ODM unleashes its campaign machinery to lock the Nyanza votes.

The region has been steadfast behind Raila since his first stab at the presidency in 1997.

In western, some of the smaller parties came to the fore during Matungu, Kabuchai and Bonchari by-elections in Kakamega, Bungoma and Kisii counties earlier this year.

Though these outfits did not cause any major shift in the political scene, their presence, could have served as a warning to ODM, ANC and Ford Kenya which are dominant in the two regions.

In Western region, several small parties are working around the clock to improve their popularity in a region that has backed Raila overwhelmingly in three elections.

Last month, the Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K), was launched in Webuye, Bungoma County.

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa has been linked to the new outfit, with political pundits arguing he could be out to gain a political foothold in elective politics having, together with Senate speaker Kenneth Lusaka folded New Ford Kenya party during run-up to the 2017 General Elections.

New Ford Kenya was among dozens of small parties that were collapsed to form the ruling party Jubilee in a pre-election political pact.

DAP-K officials say it would be targeting disgruntled members from other parties including Ford K and ANC while positioning itself as a national outfit towards 2022.

Party officials say its slogan " Mwamko Mpya (new dawn)'', conveys a message of hope to the electorate.

Wamalwa has neither confirmed nor denied claims that he could be the force behind DAP-K, but has told his supporters 'to start preparing for 2022'. 

Other parties offering alternatives in Western are Maendeleo Democratic Party (MDP) led by Amis Mukanda which secured Malava parliamentary seat in 2013, and the Cyrus Jirongo led United Democratic Party (UDP).

UDP scooped several MCA seats in Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia and even Vihiga counties.

In Mt. Kenya, the uncertainty in Jubilee created by the fallout between President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto has contributed to the reemergence of multiple parties.

Other than the Democratic Party (DP), Martha Karua's Narc-Kenya and the Party of National Unity (PNU) which remained on the scene as over 15 political parties folded into Jubilee in 2016, several other parties are seeking to be the dominant grouping in Mt Kenya.

Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria has already made it clear that he will contest presidency in 2022 on the ticket of his Usawa Kwa Wote Party.

Then there is Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and his outfit- The Service Party (TSP) which has been on the scene since last year.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria has said there was need for more political parties in the region to promote democracy and control domineering personal interests.

Former Kiambu governor William Kabogo has also unveiled his new political outfit dubbed Tujibebe Wakenya Party, which he says he will use to vie for the presidency in 2022.

In the Rift Valley Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) party led by former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto is also flexing its muscle, spreading its tentacles in the South Rift region where it managed to win some ward representative seats.

 At the Coast, the last few months, have seen major players like ODM, and KANU intensify campaigns in the region despite Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi’s push to unite the region under the Pamoja Africa Alliance (PAA).

Other than PAA, Kadu Asili, Shirikisho Party of Kenya and Umoja Summit Party of Kenya are also fighting to remain relevant ahead of the next polls.

Kingi and other leaders supporting the idea of Coast-based parties have argued that the local outfits would champion issues of the region such as political and economic marginalisation.

 Shirikisho and Kadu Asili have joined hands with Umoja Summit and Communist Party of Kenya to wrestle ODM, Jubilee and now UDA in the hunt for votes.

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