Malala upbeat he will retain SG position during December UDA elections

President William Ruto addresses the inaugural UDA National Governing Council Meeting at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on September 29, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

"Malala seems to have the ears of the owners of the UDA party. He is a close associate of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, the presumptive referee in the December elections. I think Malala has all elements a party would want in a secretary-general," says Echesa.

However, Ruto sounded a warning at the Bomas NGC saying; "We all must plan for elections ahead. No one will get a post on a silver platter. Go out there and convince voters to support you. Do not say I am Ruto's friend, look for friendship with the voters. I will also be going to them because none of the officials in UDA was elected."

Malala's tenure as SG has been controversial. A visit he paid to State House, Nairobi, in the company of a handful of leaders from the western without the blessings of, among others, Mudavadi, Wetang'ula, and Khalwale, caused an uproar. Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Gladys Shollei called Malala out in June when she blamed him for causing rifts in the party.

UDA membership drives

"I am disappointed with the performance of Malala, he has been going on the UDA membership drives and many of them have ended in violence. As UDA members, we should begin to ask ourselves if he is trying to destroy our party," said Shollei.

In June, UDA delegates meeting in Mombasa where Malala was present ended prematurely after supporters of EALA MP Hassan Omar and Nyali MP Mohammed Ali clashed. Similarly, there was violence in Isiolo and Marsabit when Malala visited the region.

Malala's support among Western leaders appears small if the number of elected leaders in his camp is anything to go by. While in Mt Elgon recently where he stepped up calls for the dissolution of ANC and Ford-K, Malala was in the company of two elected leaders, namely Webuye West MP Dan Wanyama and host MP Fred Kapondi. Also present was former Bumula MP Mwambu Mabonga.

Church function

On the same day, Mudavadi and Wetang'ula were in Shinyalu constituency at a church function accompanied by more than 30 elected leaders from western Kenya and some from other regions.

The distribution of the 7.2 million UDA registered members is not yet clear, but the support Ruto got from Mt Kenya and Rift Valley during last year's election campaign points to the regions having the lion's share. UDA is still trying to establish itself in western Kenya where the opposition has held sway for decades.

Malala appears to have burnt bridges with ANC, Ford-K, and even ODM. He could find himself in a precarious position if the upcoming UDA elections do not favour him. He is sitting in the Cabinet by virtue of being UDA secretary general, a privilege he will lose if he fails to clinch the seat.

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