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Why NDC will be decisive moment for Jubilee Party in wake of split

POLITICS
By Biketi Kikechi | November 21st 2021

Deputy President William Ruto and Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju arrive for media briefing when the DP stormed the party Headquarters in Nairobi on September 23, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

The Jubilee Party National Delegates Conference (NDC) slated for November 30 is expected to further jolt the political landscape.

Over the years, NDCs have been used as realignment platforms in the run up to presidential elections, and to strengthen party structures.

Jubilee has been hemorrhaged by defections, open defiance and disloyalty leaving it limping and with a dented image.

But with less than nine months to the presidential poll, everything is possible if past elections are a yard-stick. An example is when President Kibaki joined Narc from NAK in 2002 with only four months to the elections and won.

MPs Kanini Kega (Kieni), Wambugu Ngunjiri (Nyeri Town), Joshua Kuttuny (Cherangany) and former Nyeri Woman Rep Pricilla Nyokabi have accused current office holders of sleeping on the job and killing the party.

Now analysts argue that Jubilee may avoid taking measures which can create litigations and other challenges because there is no much time left.

“The financial implications of having more than 100 by-elections now when we have only two months to opening of party hopping window in February does not make sense,” says Prof Gitile Naituli.

He, however, foresees Jubilee conducting a clean-up by kicking out current officials including vice-chairman David Murathe and secretary general Raphael Tuju and only retaining Uhuru as the party leader.

Prof Naituli also does not see the party filling all grassroots positions again because of time constraints, adding they are likely to only do “cosmetic house-keeping.”

He is also confident that the delegates will empower the party leader to engage in a pre-election pact with Raila Odinga’s ODM and other parties. A team appointed by the president and the ODM leader has drafted an agreement to field a joint presidential candidate and Uhuru plans to use the NDC to ratify the coalition arrangement.

Only the TNA wing of Jubilee controlled by the President now exists in the party and delegates will, therefore, support his handshake gesture as the party seeks to remain in power through ODM.

Jubilee MPs who spoke to The Sunday Standard said the party will also field joint candidates for all 1,450 wards and 416 parliamentary seats.

The deal is expected to be both a pre and post-election pact which will also capture details on how the proposed coalition will share positions if it wins elections.

Prof Naituli also sees Kanu and some One Kenya Alliance partners not only attending the NDC but also joining the emerging alliance.

But Geofrey Givendi Asutsa of Moi University argues that there is also the option of partnering with Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) because in Kenya anything is possible.

They both, however, agree that ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi could emerge as the only other serious presidential candidate on the 2022 ballot paper.

“Given that he rejected to be nominated as an MP by President Moi in 2002 after he lost elections when he served briefly as Vice President tells a lot about his character,” says Prof Naituli.

Sharp differences have continued the Jubilee for over three years now until when Ruto recently openly declared his support for UDA and kicked high profile campaign rallies across the country. President Uhuru Kenyatta even dared the DP, who is still technically the Jubilee Deputy party leader, to quit government if he was dissatisfied with its policies.

The fallout had also intensified after the March 2018 handshake between Uhuru and Raila which Ruto opposed claiming that the former premier was getting into government through the backdoor. The sharp exchanges have continued, leading to a purge of UDA allied Jubilee officials like Deputy Secretary General Caleb Kositany and those holding leadership positions in Parliament.

Prof Munene Macharia of USIU argues that Ruto was left with no option but to craft his own destiny when the President’s allies targeted him after 2017.

 “The President’s men like former Governor William Kabogo openly told him to forget kumi kumi (10years for Uhuru and 10 for him) and look for his own votes,” says Prof Macharia.

Coupled with further attacks from Murathe who repeatedly told the DP that power will not be handed to him, that only appeared to add more fire in Ruto’s belly. And now after many months of sizing and daring each other the Jubilee party will finally on November 30 do what many loyal party members have all along called for – kick out party rebels.

Tuju says the NDC will help revamp the party ahead of the 2022 elections and also restructure its leadership and membership. Ruto’s camp, however, thinks otherwise.

“Jubilee is a dead party because people are defecting from there to UDA and not vice-versa,” Soy MP Caleb Kositany told viewers on KTN.

Jubilee is the biggest parliamentary party with a total of 173 MP, 141 among elected from constituencies across the country with ODM coming second with 73 MPs, 59 of them elected. But rebels aver poor leadership has cost the party, noting it has never held any serious parliamentary group meetings.

The MPs are now hoping that the NDC will revive the fortunes of the sleeping giant and make it attractive again ahead of next year’s elections.

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