Litmus test for Uhuru as divided Jubilee Party convenes NDC

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta gives tribute to Prof George Magoha in Gem, Siaya, on February 11, 2023. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta will today lead Jubilee Party’s National Delegates Conference (NDC) aimed at ousting rebels from the party.

Jubilee Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni on Sunday said they expect between 4,000 and 5,000 delegates at the NDC to be held at Ngong Racecourse, Nairobi.

Kioni said Azimio leader Raila Odinga and other opposition leaders had been invited to the meeting.

This mirrors last year’s events which saw Uhuru and Jubilee members attend the ODM NDC while Raila and allies attended Jubilee’s. The secretary-general challenged “dissenting voices” within the party to attend the meeting and air their grievances.

“Anyone with dissenting views about this NDC should come here and challenge the former president and seek leadership positions within the party,” said Kioni

This comes amidst a fierce power struggle that has left the party split in two with both factions claiming control of Kenya’s third-largest party.

Similarly, the party’s position in Azimio is being challenged after the faction led by Eala MP Kanini Kega pledged allegiance to President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza and are now claiming the party.

In a display of open defiance in Isiolo, on Sunday, Nominated MP Sabina Chege, Ndindi Nyoro (Kiharu) and Kega disowned today’s NDC and called on Uhuru to quit active politics.

A faction led by Eala MP Kanini Kega pledged allegiance to President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza. [File, Standard]

Chege and Kega who were among leaders who accompanied President Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua to Isiolo, praised the Kenya Kwanza administration and continued their onslaught on the party leadership allied to Azimio.

“We will not have any meeting tomorrow. Those going for the meeting tomorrow, that’s just a political meeting. We will call an official meeting,” said Chege who was recently crowned party leader by the rival faction.

“We will work with the government. The former president should quit politics and work together with the president to take forward the country,” said Kega.

But Kioni said nothing stops a retired president from heading a political party and the NDC will proceed as planned.

“If you want to retire, retire and leave us with our own leader. In the US and other developed democracies, we see retired presidents remaining in their parties. Why do we want ours to leave?” He posed.

The power struggle escalated after the Kega-led group expelled Jubilee Vice Chairperson David Murathe and Kioni, citing gross misconduct and a lack of respect for the party’s organs.

Preparations at Ngong Race Course ahead of Jubilee Party's National Delegate Conference. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

However, Murathe and Kioni dismissed their ouster, saying that only the legally recognised organs of the party have the authority to make such decisions. The former president intends to use the NDC to counter the coup against the party leadership by expelling Kega, Chege and other rebels aligned to Ruto.

Registrar of Political Parties (RPP) Anne Nderitu said that her office is handling the Jubilee leadership dilemma and will give feedback once all the documents are received.

“We have been receiving many fillings from the Jubilee Party. Once we receive all the documents we will sit down and evaluate and determine using the Political Parties Act and Jubilee Party constitution and other legal documents then get back to the party,” said Nderitu.

RPP is also expected to look into the suspension of Uhuru as the party leader by the Kega faction. As the week unfolds, Nderitu’s impending decision weighs heavily on the battered party, casting a shadow of uncertainty and potentially further extending the ongoing conflicts that have enveloped its ranks.

Also, at the centre of the brawl within Jubilee is the power to control significant financial resources, including a Sh135 million allocation by the National Treasury for the current fiscal year and an entitlement to Sh675 million over the next five years.