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Parties ride on BBI wave to prepare for 2022 elections

By Moses Nyamori | January 10th 2021 at 11:23:35 GMT +0300

Kanu National Chairman Gideon Moi flanked by party delegates dance during BBI awareness campaign in Nairobi last month. [File]

Key political parties are scrambling to ride on the political wave created by the push to amend the Constitution as part of their 2022 game plan.

Political figures with ambition for the presidency have already dashed to the grassroots to spearhead campaigns in support of the changes proposed by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) with their eyes fixed on the next General Election.

The plot by the political outfits is to align with their formation in support of the document while selling their parties and candidates for various seats using euphoria on anticipated referendum.

Apart from President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila – who are the brainchildren of the initiative – Amani National Congress (ANC) party leader Musalia Mudavadi, Kanu chairman Gideon Moi and Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka have seized the moment, lining up a series of political rallies.

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Others in the ring are Maendeleo Chap Chap party boss Alfred Mutua, his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangúla and Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) led by former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto.

Some of the politicians have declared their interest to succeed Uhuru in the next poll and are pulling out all the stops to place themselves ahead of the pack.

Gideon has since held rallies in Migori, Narok, Bomet, Embu, Nairobi, Nyeri, Elgeyo Marakwet and Samburu counties in the last couple of weeks to drum up support for the proposed changes.

In the meetings, he disclosed that a super alliance bringing together pro-BBI politicians was in the offing in what points to a larger political scheme.

Governor Mutua, on the other hand, has been in Kiambu, Murang’a, Kisumu and Taita Taveta counties where he drummed up support for the changes while campaigning for the party’s candidates in the just concluded by-elections.

Mudavadi has also been in Nairobi, Machakos, Busia and Kajiado counties for political engagements that sought to popularise BBI.

ODM Chairman John Mbadi said it was not strange for politicians to capitalise on such a process that would culminate into political formations ahead of the next contest.

He said the referendum would largely influence the outcome of the next poll since it is coming a year to the contest, stating that there would be emergence of two formations in 2022.

He cited the 2005 and 2010 plebiscite that shaped the subsequent 2007 and 2013 polls. The 2005 plebiscite won by the NO side birthed ODM.

Cotu boss Francis Atwoli described the BBI process as key determinant in the 2022 succession politics, claiming that those opposing proposed reforms would be sent into political oblivion.

Mr Atwoli said most political figures have realised that their political survival is tied to backing the document hence the scramble to associate with the proposed changes.

“They know very well that anyone who is not in support of the BBI will be nowhere come the next poll. Anybody opposed to the BBI is a complete lost sheep,” said Atwoli.

Makueni MP Dan Maanzo shared similar views saying that the document has promised goodies to many people  – from the political class, women to the common mwananchi  – creating a bait for parties seeking the backing of the people to endorse it so as to avoid possible backlash.

“Even the Tangatanga people will have nothing to tell the people why they are opposed to the document because it has taken care of most interests. It has taken care of the gender parity, devolution among other key issues,” said Maanzo.

Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat said the document has provided a political atmosphere for parties to sell their agenda across the country without any hostility from certain quarters.

Mr Salat said some parties that are not keen on fielding presidential candidates were also trying to align themselves under the BBI platform ahead of the succession politics.

“There are parties that do not plan to field presidential candidates therefore are seeking to align themselves,” he added, in response to the decision by CCM to declare support for Gideon should he decide to run for the presidency.

Two weeks ago, Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and Wetang’ula held a meeting at Stoni Athi Resort to discuss the BBI but turned it into their 2022 plan, announcing plans to forge an alliance in readiness for the presidential poll.

Mudavadi’s ANC has set up a semi-autonomous secretariat to spearhead the nationwide campaigns for the proposed constitutional changes.

The decision by Mudavadi, who has declared interest for the top seat, is seen as a move to prevent being overshadowed by Raila ahead of the polls.

Some of the allies of Uhuru, Raila and Deputy President William Ruto have framed the referendum duel as rehearsal for the 2022 polls in what has posed a challenge for politicians backing the initiative and at the same time seeking to run for presidency.

But Mudavadi dismissed claims that formations around the referendum will go all the way to the next poll.

He said formations around the referendum might not survive beyond the plebiscite, citing how some of the key political figures that teamed up to defeat the 2005 referendum went separate ways in the 2007 polls.

Switched camps

Uhuru was one of the No camp luminary alongside Raila but switched camps to back retired President Mwai Kibaki in the subsequent General Election.

“By the time Kenya gets to 2022, there would be different formations from the ones at the referendum,” said Mudavadi.

Mutua said he has lined up meet-the-people tours in Nairobi and other parts of the country to drum up support for the initiative as well as his bid for the top seat.

He accused opponents of the initiative of negative propaganda against the proposed changes, saying the document is for the benefit of all Kenyans.

“I have made it clear that I am going to run for the top seat. What I have been told out there is that the BBI is all about Raila and Uhuru but I tell them that is not true, because even me I am in the race for president and I am supporting the BBI proposals,” said Mutua.  

But Economic Freedom Party (EFP) Chairman Issak Abey said some political parties have been sidelined in the process.

Abey said the initiative has been turned into an affair of Jubilee and ODM, leaving other key players outside.

“This process is a project of two political parties of ODM and Jubilee. Parties are in competition in nature, that is why they are only consulting those they are comfortable with,” said Abey.

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