Six months after dissolving its affiliates, Jubilee Party has changed tack and is now sponsoring small parties to shore up votes for President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election.
The move is aimed at stopping hundreds of disgruntled aspirants unhappy with the Jubilee Party nomination process from decamping to NASA parties and other emerging political outfits.
Just slightly over six months after the President and his deputy William Ruto pushed for 11 affiliate parties to fold and merge into Jubilee Party (JP), its leadership is now encouraging aspirants to join parties of their choice as long as they back the President’s re-election bid.
Key Jubilee leaders have launched three small parties which they are advising their allies to use in vying for elective seats.
The Standard on Sunday has learnt that JP has acquired Party of Action (POA), which is associated with JP Head of Secretariat Raphael Tuju, and is in the process of rebranding it into Party of Development (PD). It is also sponsoring the Frontier Alliance Party (FAP) for the pastoralist areas as well as the Patriotic Party of Kenya (PPK), which is based at the Coast.
The accommodation of these three parties in Jubilee was pushed by circles around the Deputy President Ruto.
Sources say Ruto is keen to weaken Kanu and Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) and derail the traction the two parties are getting in Rift Valley by giving sulking Jubilee aspirants alternatives. Of interest equally is the emergence of Diligence Development Alliance (DDA). Whereas it has understandably refused to gravitate in the same direction as POA, FAP and PPK, it has declared support for President Kenyatta’s re-election but will field candidates in other elective positions.
Under the leadership of Mombasa-based businessman Jaffer Isaac, DDA is understandably bankrolled by known city tycoons and has already acquired a massive office in Westlands.
Party of National Unity (PNU), Kanu and Maendeleo Chap Chap have also declared support for President Kenyatta’s re-election, but vowed to field candidates in other positions. These three parties are largely seen as sympathetic to President Kenyatta and not necessarily to DP Ruto.
Governor Isaac Ruto’s CCM is yet to declare whom it will back.
The move to accept the affiliates was triggered by fears that Jubilee may lose its majority in the Senate and National Assembly if disgruntled aspirants are not given an option.
It is also seen as a strategic move as it will help Jubilee get a foothold in rival NASA strongholds where selling mainstream JP maybe an uphill task.
Former assistant minister Danson Mungatana, who is eyeing the Tana River governor’s seat, said he had been told by senior JP officials to identify one of the political outfits allied to the ruling party.
“When Governor Hussein Dado moved to the party, the officials at JP told me to shop for a party allied to it. I will unveil that party this week,” said Mungatana.
Jubilee insiders believe these parties are a plus for the presidential tally as sibling rivalry will end up mobilising more voters to JP’s advantage.
“If people feel disenfranchised, you must give them a fallback position,” JP Vice Chairman David Murathe told The Standard on Sunday.
“In Rift Valley, we rather our supporters go to those friendly parties rather than join those fighting the DP. The same case applies to Mt Kenya. As a party, we don’t want to block aspirants who may be popular. Nothing should stop a candidate from running in a different party but support the President,” he said.
National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale said there are unique political features in some areas which cannot be accommodated in Jubilee. He cites pastoralist communities where clan dynamism forces various leaders to identify with protagonist groups, yet they all concur in supporting Uhuru’s re-election.
“The three parties (PD, FAP and PPK) will automatically merge with JP after elections in September. For now, we are telling our supporters who can’t all be accommodated in JP to contest in the three parties,” Duale said.
Tuju said JP was left with no option other than to embrace the affiliates, as this will bolster Jubilee numbers. “Party membership is voluntary and if someone comes and says he supports you but does not want to join your party, do you chase him away?” he quipped.
But Murathe and Duale, while welcoming the support of these parties, warned them that they are direct competitors of JP.
“Jubilee will campaign for its candidates because you need the mandate of the Senate, National Assembly and counties to govern,” Murathe said.
President Kenyatta has been welcoming defectors from opposition parties, with the latest being a group from Marsabit County led by Governor Ukur Yattani. Four MPs, 25 Members of County Assembly (MCAs) and more than 300 elders accompanied Mr Yattani when he visited State House, Nairobi, to formally decamp.
In Mandera, leaders who enjoy the backing of the Garre Council of Elders have also acquired their own party, Economic Freedom Party (EFP), after JP rejected their request for a direct nomination. It’s not clear, however, if the party will support Uhuru. EFP will be launched today at Geneva grounds in Mandera town.
Other parties that support Uhuru’s re-election include Martha Karua’s Narc Kenya and Labour Party of Kenya.
On Thursday, Narc Kenya received defectors from JP and Chap Chap and used the opportunity to warn JP about on the battle for the other seats.
“We will be supporting the re-election of President Kenyatta. But in all other seats, I want to say they should expect friendly fire,” Karua said.