Nelson Dzuya, the hustler fixing Ruto

Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju with party chairman Nelson Dzuya at a past press conference. [File, Standard]

In the midst of the explosive Jubilee Party factional fights, one top official stands out for his distinct non-combative, unassuming yet powerful personality in the legitimisation of party moves.

Nelson Dzuya, the chairman of the troubled party, is the man who everybody has overshadowed, yet he is not complaining.

Few can place a finger on the mugshot of the man whose latest move to recommend the removal of Ruto as deputy leader, has rattled the rank and file of the party.

As his deputy David Murathe hogs all the limelight, and Secretary-General Raphael Tuju issues all the statements, Dzuya sits pretty at the top of the power matrix, doing the bidding for the party leader.

A former tout, whose fortunes blossomed with the onset of Jubilee, Dzuya was - like the rest of Jubilee interim officials - placed at the centre of things without a single leaf of a blank cheque. 

In an interview, Dzuya explained that he did not like much publicity and that was why he had not engaged in the political fireworks, instead choosing to concentrate on his work of running party affairs.

“Our constitution has designated the secretary-general as the official spokesman and that is why Mr Tuju has been giving out official communication. I personally do not like publicity and that is why I do not speak much. As for vice-chairman, Mr Murathe, he has been making personal statements because he is a senior politician who has served as MP before,” he explained.

What is not known to many is that it is Dzuya who has chaired meetings where the plot to kick out Ruto and his allies from their party positions have been hatched. He is effectively the small axe bringing down the big trees in the President's party.

Through his silent chops, disbelieving former Majority Leaders Aden Duale and Kipchumba Murkomen fell. At his beckoning, nominated senators in the party froze in fear of separation with power. And now he has scaled it further, taking on his boss in the hierarchy of the party.

His modus operandi is simple; after chairing the meetings, as was the case last Tuesday, where he chaired the meeting that recommended to have Ruto ejected, Dzuya often retreats back. He leaves Tuju and Murathe to communicate the decisions of the party organs and to play the hard tackles.

Unlike Ruto, Dzuya has a permanent office at the contested Jubilee headquarters.

Tuju says that though Dzuya is never in the public light, he is firm in his execution of duties and in complete charge of Jubilee Party.

“He is not a peripheral figure, as some may want to argue. Only that as per our constitution, it is the secretary-general who is the mouthpiece. The chairman will chair the meeting, which he does, then leaves me to talk,” says Tuju.

He adds: “The chairman convenes the meetings if I don’t do. But importantly, he is in charge of ensuring party discipline among its members. Any disciplinary matter has to be brought to the party through his attention and he is in charge of ensuring anyone who needs to be disciplined is reprimanded”.  

However, Tuju’s Deputy Caleb Kositany dismisses the assertion that Dzuya is firmly in charge of the party, terming him a mere spectator in the operations of Jubilee.

“That is just a symbol that was placed there, more of a stooge. The party has its real owners and his is nothing more than just a ceremonial figure to rubber-stamp the decision made by others. He is completely in the periphery,” says the Soi MP.

He refutes claims that it is Dzuya, who commissions disciplinary actions, saying he is just informed about deliberations made by others, just for his concurrence.

“How many times have you heard him even say a word? I am even more vocal than him. The fact that it is the SG who is the party’s mouthpiece does not mean that the chairman is dumb,” says Kositany.

Despite being the small man with the humble background tasked with checkmating Ruto, he and the Deputy President have a history. Before Jubilee was birthed, Dzuya was an operative in the defunct United Republican Party (URP), where he blew Ruto's horn.

Ironically, it was through the Ruto’s party that the 43-year-old, who was once a tout in Mombasa plying the Likoni Ferry–Magongo route, joined the leadership of Jubilee, first becoming the chairman of the ill-fated Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP), then taking over the Jubilee Party, which was formed after collapsing of 13 political parties, including URP.

That the man born in the remote Chang’ombe village, in Rabai Constituency of Kilifi County is on top of things on Jubilee matters is not in question. As early as June, he told journalists that Jubilee would not be fielding a candidate in the Msambweni by-election.

However, it would appear the mainstream media ignored him, possibly because he is not seen as an authority on Jubilee matters as is Tuju and Murathe. Later he was vindicated and not even Ruto's stormy entry in Jubilee House could reverse this.

Dzuiya is a co-signatory, with Tuju, for many party bank accounts and also documents such as nomination certificates. Despite being the chairman, Dzuya describes Tuju and Murathe as his “seniors”, explaining that the two were in politics long before him and even served in Parliament. 

He admits that he presides over the meetings of the party organs unless those specified as to be chaired by the party leader, maintaining that last week’s meeting of the National Management Committee was compelling and its recommendations, including the ouster of Ruto as the deputy party leader, will have to be taken before the National Executive Committee (NEC) committee meeting.

“If the decision of the NMC is ratified by NEC, the DP will be just an ordinary member of Jubilee,” he explains.

He made his debut in politics in 2007 when he tried to vie for the Kaloleni parliamentary seat in Kilifi County on an ODM ticket but lost in the nominations.

In 2013, he contested then newly-created Rabai parliamentary seat on Ruto’s URP ticket and came second to William Kamoti of ODM.