Taita Taveta UDA officials split over consensus in grassroots polls


When former Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya welcomed new members to UDA during delegates meeting at Wundanyi Social hall in Taita-Taveta County. [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard] 

Wrangles have emerged in the Taita Taveta County United Democratic Alliance (UDA) after a section of party leaders dismissed a proposal to pick party officials through consensus.

Those opposed to consensus said all leaders must be subjected to an election. Party grassroots elections in the county are slated for June 28.

Stephen Mwakesi, who unsuccessfully vied for the governor seat in the 2022 elections, said the National Election Board (NEB) prefers an election.

Mwakesi who is eyeing the branch chairmanship position is a former leader of the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP).

“I launched my campaigns for the county top position at Tausa, Voi Sub-County yesterday and I am in the race for the party's top seat in the county. UDA should be seen to be democratic to allow all aspiring candidates to vie for available positions," he said.

Those claiming that they have already agreed on a negotiated democracy are in for a shock as the party leadership is preparing for the elections at ward, sub-county and county levels this month,” Mwakesi told The Standard yesterday.

County Women Representative Lydia Haika who is also interested in the UDA party county chairperson position said local leaders had agreed on negotiated democracy to avert a fallout during the party grassroots elections.

Haika said the party will not conduct elections to pick a branch chairman because they had adopted consensus.

She revealed that they had resolved their internal differences amicably without involving the national office.

Speaking after receiving defectors from Azimio at Mwatate CDF hall last Monday, the Woman Rep said under the new arrangement, she will be the UDA Taita Taveta branch chairperson while her sole competitor, Simon Mwachila will be vice-chairperson.

Mwachia who unsuccessfully vied for the Wundanyi parliamentary seat on the Jubilee Party ticket was among the 15 defectors who joined UDA.

Others were losers in the 2022 General Election including former Woman Representative Joyce Wanjala Lay who lost to Haika.

“We have embraced internal solutions during the party grassroots polls to avoid divisions and fallout in the party. We are also appealing to others vying for various positions in their respective wards and constituencies to follow suit and respect each other,” she Haika.

“We have extensively discussed and agreed with Mr Mwachia that I will be the party’s branch chairperson and he will be my vice. When I win a national position later this year, I will relinquish the branch position for him,” she said.

“Grassroots elections can be divisive and a threat to the party and that is why we have come up with a peaceful way for the branch officials without going to the ballot,” added Haika.

Mwachia said they have agreed to work together to steer the party ahead.  “We have to abandon competing and vested interests for the sake of the party,” he said.

Yesterday, Mwakesi said the party is not a preserve of a few individuals and all aspirants should be accorded equal opportunity as directed by the party leadership and the NEB. He said they will hold a consultative party meeting today in Voi town to not only strategize for the elections but also chart the way forward.

“I held a meeting with the NEB members who assured me that all aspirants will be accorded a chance to vie for positions of their choice. I am ready to face Haika or any other candidate in the grassroots polls,” declared the politician.

The grassroots polls come after UDA performed poorly in the last General Election in the county that overwhelmingly voted for Azimio.

UDA only won the Woman Rep and Rong’e ward seats.

Haika said the party has gained ground in the region and vowed to wrestle the county from the opposition.

“We are holding the polls to not only strengthen the party at the grassroots level but also strategize for President William Ruto’s re-election bid in the 2027 General Election,” she said.