Ruto and allies plot December, January mass walk-out from Jubilee

Between now and April next year, Deputy President William Ruto must make hard decisions. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Deputy President William Ruto is walking a tight rope as he navigates building a political party to use in his presidential bid and having to resign from Jubilee at least eight months before the general election.

After an acrimonious political fallout with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Dr Ruto, a Jubilee deputy party leader has gradually been edged out. He has since come to terms with the inevitable reality of having to ride on a new party - the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

Between now and April next year, Ruto must make hard decisions including on whether to jump ship from Jubilee early enough, as well as how to best insulate UDA from adverse take-over and other machinations by rivals.

According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), parties must submit their membership list and names for nomination candidates by April 9, 2022, ahead of the gazettement of candidates and primaries dates that will last seven days.

Being a member of Jubilee, Ruto will have to lead a mass walkout of the MPs allied to him. 

Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said: “We will begin our mass walkout of Jubilee in December and January. No one in Jubilee will purport to discipline anyone when you have the party leader supporting the opposition. Technically we are in Jubilee but our souls, including that of Ruto, is in UDA.”

Mr Gachagua said they sensed that President Kenyatta was going to kill Jubilee three years ago.

“We saw it coming and we began clearing PDR, now UDA, as the party of choice. Our fears have come to pass; Uhuru is more in NASA than Jubilee and his plans did not catch us unawares,” he said.

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa noted that going by the DP’s statements he was likely to resign, but at an appropriate time that will give him political capital and value, where he can gain sympathy among many other things.

“I know there are many people trying to push him to get out. If he resigns now, he’s going to be very vulnerable. In my thinking, he will resign maybe months to the election. I don’t see him staying in Jubilee to the end of the term,” said Dr Wamalwa.

Jubilee deputy secretary-general and Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny said those planning to walk out were free to do so. “It is their constitutional right to choose whichever party they wish to join,” said Mr Kutuny.

But political pundits are warning UDA proponents that building a party and have it win an election within a short period was not an easy thing.

Former ODM Director of Political Affairs and Strategy Wafula Buke said Ruto was banking on euphoria to build a party, an equivalent of building a house on quicksand.

“A party in its strictest terms cannot be formed at this period and expected to win power in 2022. Ruto is relying on euphoria which brings fake political friends who cannot die for him,” said Mr Buke.

He noted that Ruto’s opponents already have parties with structures and loyalists.

After defecting from Kanu to ODM, Ruto has attempted working with three political parties, with one of them aborting after a planned takeover of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), forcing him to craft URP.

In 2015, Ruto was the engine behind the building of the Jubilee Party, but interestingly he did not offer the Party of Action (POA) he had secretly acquired for dissolution. 

Ruto acquired POA from Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju in 2015 and would later rebrand it as Party of Reforms and Development (PDR). PDR has now been rebranded as UDA.

As if he anticipated a possible hounding out of Jubilee Party, he ensured that PDR was a coalition partner, the only party that entered a pre-election agreement with the ruling party. 

By defecting from Jubilee to UDA, the Ruto allies hope that given the working arrangement between the party and Jubilee will allow them to serve the remainder of their term.

An attempt by Jubilee to end the coalition agreement flopped after the Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu asked the parties to go for mediation.

Only time will tell whether UDA will be able to marshal the numbers and have the strength to win the next election.  

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