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ANC and Ford-K in dilemma ahead of 2027

Prime CS Musalia Mudavadi and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

With a measure of certainty, the political terrain will change before the end of this year.

With the passage of the NADCO report and reformulation of IEBC, there is opportunity and lurking danger for Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Azimio coalitions.

Change will force individuals and parties to re-examine their bearings and chances of longevity come 2027 elections. No single party has won elections for 22 years since re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1992.

The last win for a single party was late President Daniel Moi’s Kanu in 1997. The five elections after were won by coalitions; the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) 2002, Party of National Unity (PNU) 2007, Jubilee 2013 and 2017, and Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA) 2022.

No coalition in the five elections has survived intact into the next elections. Mutations and realignments have held sway probably because coalitions are convenient existential outfits lacking in a unifying ideology. Azimio has yet to surmount its birth pangs with founding parties bleeding into KKA or pulling in different directions.

Every election has produced differing outcomes for individual parties. Most dominant parties have withered as is the case of Kanu, PNU and Jubilee, as new ones found footing.

Since the multiparty bug of the early 1990s, others have withered from the national stage to become regional entities as in Ford Kenya (F-K) and Democratic Party (DP), or been wiped off the electoral map aka Ford People, Kenya National Congress (KNC), Labour Party, Safina, Ford Asili.

Only ODM has remained the largest single party since 2007. It, however, was beaten to the tape by the new kid on the block in 2022 – the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

The 2022 elections emasculated ANC and F-K parties both in their regional base and nationally. UDA unexpectedly snatched the Sabatia home seat of then ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi.  

Overall, the Azimio coalition holds sway with ODM 17 seats and DAP five seats across the five counties of Vihiga, Busia, Kakamega, Bungoma and Trans Nzoia against the KKA’s 17 total.   

If this holds true as the functional electoral leaning, then existential questions arise: Would the fold-up favour KKA or would it cement the chokehold of Azimio? Were ANC to fold and F-K emboldened to play chicken, would support swing in F-K favour? Conversely, would Mudavadi emerge tops armed with former ANC MPs now already fraternising with UDA?

The import of these glaring facts is that while sentiment has it ANC and F-K parties have support in the region, electoral reality is glaringly against such expectations.

Overtime, electoral withering has taken its toll on the two parties. And the blame goes both ways; an electorate that is eclectic in voting but quick to shift blame for lack unanimity to leaders.

Mockingly teased as the most democratic community in Kenya for voting every which way the wave takes them, the Luhya unlike other populous communities, lack an ethnic agenda that would drive them to produce a president. The culprit here is the unreliable bifocal Luhya elite, whose pastime is nit-picking even against their own self-interests.   

Permanently in government in one form or another since independence, the Luhya intellectual has no immediate nudge to change their split personality that underlies voting patterns. Probably a season of total absence from government could galvanise their collective will to be ambitious. Yet that need not be, if the Luhya can invest in themselves a sense of confidence.  

Try as they might, the leadership of the two outfits are in a bind; they are trapped if they do or don’t fold. Theirs could be a question of having the crown and loosing the kingdom. Revelation 3:11 warns, “Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”

This is the layout that the teaser requiring the sentimental outfits to fold into UDA will encounter. One would think that since the community itself has depreciated support for these political outfits – and some say their leadership – there shouldn’t be opposition for the foldup suggestion.

Inherently, however, there is near unanimity that ANC and F-K shouldn’t fold into UDA. A growing sentiment has it the two should fold themselves into a single party to energise their strengths. However, supporters of Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula are arraigned in heated debates on who’s senior, and therefore the Luhya political kingpin.

-The writer is a political commentator