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Jubilee is on its deathbed and no one can do anything about it

By Makau Mutua | January 13th 2019 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Jubilee, the ruling party, will soon be in the cruel barrel of history. In fact, the cancer eating at it has already metastasized. It’s incurable, and terminal. It’s not a matter of whether, but when the bell will toll for the last time.

Let’s write the obituary now because it won’t be long. The cruel hand of death is about to extract its price on yet another political alliance of convenience. Don’t shed tears, unless your name is William Samoei Ruto. The Deputy President was counting on Jubilee to carry him to State House. It won’t. That’s because Jubilee is dying a natural death, as it will – and must. This point is unarguable. No other outcome is possible.

Why am I so sure Jubilee is headed to the graveyard? Jubilee was formed with one purpose and one purpose only. That was to take the scion of the Burning Spear to State House. Jubilee is akin to a drone bee which automatically dies after it mates.  The bee explodes after mating. The bee is designed – and internally programmed – to self-destruct after accomplishing its purpose on earth.

That’s why Jubilee will implode – sooner than later – since it has done for the son of Jomo what it was meant to do. If I was Mr Ruto I would not wait around for Jubilee to shatter and detonate. I hope he can see the rapid internal combustion within boiling over.

Let me give you a little history. Just in case you are skeptical. No hodgepodge political alliance – defined as a marriage of convenience among ethnic parties – has ever survived the baron for whom it was sired. Kadu was swallowed up by Kanu soon after independence, and so that wasn’t strictly speaking an alliance of convenience.

The first time Kenya saw these rickety alliances was the merger of KANU and NDP in 2002. The purpose of that merger was to prepare Uhuru Kenyatta to succeed then President Moi. NDP’s Raila Odinga mistakenly thought he could use the merger to succeed President Moi. In a few months, the merger collapsed when this inevitability became crystal clear to Raila.

Raila left Kanu and engineered its eventual demise from power when he declared Narc’s Kibaki Tosha at Uhuru Park on October 14, 2002. Kibaki went on to overwhelmingly defeat Kenyatta in the December elections that year. That’s how Kanu was ousted from power. Let’s remember that Narc was a broad alliance of two parties – NAK of Charity Ngilu and Kibaki and LDP of Raila, Kalonzo Musyoka, and the late George Saitoti. Raila and his LDP comrades thought they could use Narc to succeed Kibaki in State House. It didn’t happen and the alliance disintegrated when Kibaki betrayed Raila by denying him the premiership promised in their memorandum of understanding.

Raila and Kalonzo went on to found the opposition ODM-Kenya. Narc itself split in two with Narc-Kenya now headed by Martha Karua while Ms Ngilu kept the original Narc. 

Re-election vehicle

That’s when in September 2007 Kibaki formed a coalition of parties called Party of National Unity (PNU) as the vehicle for his re-election. PNU practically died as soon as Kibaki was re-elected because that was its sole purpose. Peter Munya later took over a comatose PNU which is today a shell. ODM-Kenya was killed by a contest for leadership between Raila and Kalonzo. Kalonzo kept ODM-Kenya, which later transformed into Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya or WDM-K and Raila formed ODM. Things fell apart. Jubilee was birthed in January 2013 as a marriage of convenience between Kenyatta’s TNA, Ruto’s URP, and Ngilu’s Narc. It was dissolved in 2016 and replaced by Jubilee Party, a motley collection of 11 parties.

But only TNA and URP really matter within Jubilee. It’s no secret Kenyatta agreed to the merger because it would serve his re-election.

Ruto, on the other hand, saw the merger as a way to lasso the Mount Kenya communities into supporting his bid in 2022. He constructed the merger for Mt Kenya peoples to repay his debt for supporting Kenyatta in 2013 and 2017.

Jubilee Alliance, the antecedent to Jubilee Party, was born out of desperation. Ruto and Kenyatta were brought together by the sword of Damocles of the International Criminal Court. They rightly knew that a win would give them the levers of power to neutralise the ICC. The logic that brought together in 2013 doesn’t exist anymore.  Kenyatta was returned to power in 2018. He doesn’t need Jubilee.

That’s why it will implode – and Ruto can’t do a damn thing about it. It’s the curse of political alliances. That’s why Jubilee, like Narc, will die.

- The writer is SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of KHRC.  @makaumutua

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