Journey to make UDA super party begins today

Martin Ndunda decorates floor of one of the halls with UDA's logo at Bomas of Kenya ahead of planned NDC that will be held on September 29, 2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

President William Ruto today begins the journey of establishing a super party, as his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) holds the inaugural National Governing Council (NGC) meeting.

More than 1,500 people, party members and guests, are expected to attend the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, meeting, intended to lay strategies to strengthen the party ahead of elections slated for December.

The NGC comes amid calls for the dissolution of affiliates within Kenya Kwanza, a message that UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala restated yesterday as he assessed the preparations at the venue.

Malala, President Ruto’s champion of the dissolution agenda, said the folding-up of Kenya Kwanza affiliate parties would be voluntary and UDA would launch a movement targeting 50 million members that would be driven at the grassroots.

“We are not forcing anyone to join our movement. You do not need to dissolve your party. But we welcome all to the movement, including those whose party would be shipwrecked,” said Malala who has faced criticism from other Kenya Kwanza parties for forcing dissolution down their throats.

UDA Chairperson Cecily Mbarire said the NGC would guide elections from the grassroots, making it a grounded party that resonates with the masses.

“We will pass important resolutions of the council and also guide the grassroots elections,” said Mbarire.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah hailed UDA’s success in the previous election, projecting more in future.

“UDA is among the youngest political parties in Kenya, but is the largest. Our intention and that of the party leader is to make UDA the most vibrant national movement,” said the Kikuyu MP.

As UDA was making final touches on its big day, setting up tents and sprucing up the venue, Ford Kenya was also planning a national recruitment drive ahead of the next General Election, essentially trashing the call to fold the three decade-old party.

The party’s politburo met yesterday at its Simba House headquarters. Speaker Moses Wetang’ula chaired the National Management Committee’s meeting that rejected Ruto’s push for dissolution.

“Today’s meeting marks a pivotal moment for our party. We are determined to rejuvenate Ford Kenya, expand our influence, and create a vibrant political force that truly represents the aspirations of Kenyans,” Wetang’ula said.

“As we move forward with renewed vigour, our party, our heritage and pride aims to play a significant role n shaping the party’s political landscape,” he added. 

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) also rejected dissolution calls.

“ANC can never lose its corporate identity to any party, least of all UDA, unless UDA is dissolved and we form a neutral entity,” ANC Director of ICT and Programmes Nathaniel Mong’are told The Standard in a previous interview.

The resistance by Ford-K and ANC will potentially test the president’s resolve to establish a single party, which he hopes will propel him to a second term in office.

Ruto intends to build an outfit as big, if not bigger, as Jubilee Party. He made his intentions clear during a recent tour of Nyeri County. 

“We are going to make sure that we build a national party that is going to unite the country, communities, and the interests of every corner so that we can eliminate the politics of ethnicity and change it to politics of parties around issues that will drive the country into prosperity,” the president said.

In the run-up to last year’s elections, Ruto described other affiliate parties as ethnic cocoons and vowed not to enter into any coalitions. Prevailing realities forced him into alliances with the same outfits he had criticised.