The turmoil that gripped the house of Jubilee in the past year shows no signs of abating as allies of Deputy President William Ruto fight for control of the ruling party ahead of the 2022 General Election.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto’s bromance started fraying after the president's March 2018 handshake with ODM leader Raila Odinga. It was complicated further by the push for constitutional change through the Building Bridges Initiative.
Going by members' latest utterances, and the unveiling of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) that is affiliated to Jubilee’s Tangatanga wing, the writing is on the wall that if the in-fighting is not contained, it could see the party implode ahead of the next polls.
This comes after the deputy president publicly registered his displeasure at how his allies were treated during the homecoming of Msambweni MP Feisal Bader, before asking for their forbearance because ‘revenge is for God’.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said they are barreling towards a zero-sum game that will conclude when they leave the party en masse and collapse it.
"We are tired in JP. We have been blackmailed, humiliated and embarrassed. A new political party has just come and everyone is saying UDA! UDA! The DP will contest; even if he will use the wheelbarrow, so be it,” said Cherargei.
He added: "Why are people having pressure? If we decide to leave JP, we must dismantle it. Each faction will take a piece. We must get our share; we will not walk out empty-handed because the party is not a church."
These fighting words by the Nandi lawmaker, who was sacked from the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, are the clearest indicator yet that time was running out for the political vehicle used by President Kenyatta and Ruto to drive to victory in 2017.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said they will not wait to be subjected to what their colleagues in parliamentary leadership went through.
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"They are planning to expel us from the party. We know it’s only a matter of when. We have intelligence. It’s not only the Party for Development and Reforms that is in the offing. When the time is right, we will collapse some eight others to form a coalition ahead of the 2022 polls,” Barasa said.
He continued: "They are making unilateral decisions without consulting party members on when to field candidates for specific by-elections. That is the decision of the National Delegates Congress."
Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju, however, downplayed the threats, saying the president's focus was on his legacy agenda and he would not be 'derailed by sideshows'.
"The president made it very clear during his New Year's national address that he will not be sucked into shenanigans and not be able to work,” said Tuju.
He added: "Those people calling on the president to focus on Agenda Four and not the BBI have been politicking about 2022 elections despite his plea to suspend the same. That is the hypocrisy we have come to accept."
Tuju argued that if Uhuru and the party leadership were to respond to all salvos directed at them from the Ruto camp, the economy would grind to a halt.
"They have too much time on their hands to play politics. We, on the other hand, are focused on economic recovery. It is unfortunate that we are now engaging in ethnic nationalism politics.
"It is wrong in the US; it is wrong in Rwanda and other countries, including Kenya. Ethnic nationalism is a tune we have heard before and it’s like playing the guitar without paying for royalties."
Kieni MP Kanini Kega, a close Uhuru ally, yesterday dared Ruto and his allies to quit and seek re-election.
"If they are principled and bold enough, let them resign and seek a fresh mandate from their parties of choice. I ask our party leader to crack the whip and send errant members packing for advancing the ideologies of other parties,” said Kega.
He called on the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu to deregister MPs seen to be pushing rival party agendas.
“Tangatanga should not hide under the guise of the hustler movement to join UDA. We will expel them. This time no one will be forgiven for disobeying the party leadership," he said.
Kega singled out Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura, a harsh Ruto critic who changed his tune and joined Team Tangatanga, saying he deserves to be de-whipped and stripped of his nomination for insulting the party leader.
“The party leader and the SG should act on these errant MPs. The five senators’ disciplinary action was kept in abeyance but Mwaura’s should be used as an example. By now he should have received a show cause letter and directed to appear before the disciplinary committee,” the MP said.
Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama faulted Ruto over his alleged links with UDA, saying there were signs that the party was formed with the aim of providing him with a political vehicle for his 2022 presidential bid.
"President Uhuru Kenyatta is our party leader and Ruto is like any other member. If he feels he needs to break away from Jubilee, he can go ahead. We shall still stand strong if he officially announces he is in UDA," said Arama.