Ruto's blue-eyed boy under siege over management style

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary General Cleophas Malala. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary General Cleophas Malala is a man under siege.

Regarded as one of President William Ruto’s blue-eyed boys, Malala wields immense power within UDA.

However, the exercise of his power has put him on a collision course with a section of Western leaders who have demanded his removal as UDA secretary general.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa and Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale recently accused Malala of rocking the party from within.

They claim Malala is on a mission to cause confusion and scuttle the party’s chances of taking control of the vote-rich Western region in 2027 General Election.

Barasa went further and accused the former Kakamega Senator of being an ODM mole in UDA and urged him to quit.

Dr Khalwale and Malala are currently running parallel UDA offices in Kakamega county.

Matters came to a head after the senator lodged a petition before the Party Disputes and Resolutions Committee seeking the UDA secretary general’s ejection over alleged gross misconduct.

He wants Malala removed as the party secretary general over claims that he took advantage of his position to ‘exploit situations that would be beneficial to him (Malala) to the detriment of other party members’.

Khalwale lodged the petition jointly with Walter Mkinginyi Trenk, a UDA member aggrieved by Malala’s conduct.

The duo had earlier dismissed a list shared on social media of regional and county managers reportedly picked by Malala single-handedly saying this will jeopardise transparency and fairness during the party elections.

They were categorical that appointment of election officials was he preserve of the National Elections Board.

Khalwale rubbished the list and urged party members to disregard it days before he lodged the petition.

“I urge the committee to intervene since we, the petitioners and other parties of UDA, will suffer irreparable personal loss and prejudice,” read the petition in part.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss Shollei called Malala out in June blaming him for causing rifts in the party.

“I am disappointed with the performance of Malala, he has been going on the UDA membership drives, and many of them have ended in violence. As UDA members, we should begin to ask ourselves if he is trying to destroy our party,” said Shollei.

Malala has come out to defend himself and dismissed the accusations.

He branded Khalwalwe and Barasa ‘old guards’ from Western who are jealous of his rise in politics

“Khalwale and Barasa are jealous because I am at the helm of the UDA party,” he said.

President’s thoughts

A section of political analysts believe Malala is communicating the thoughts of President William Ruto. Political analyst Prof Gitile Naitule, said Malala is UDA acting secretary general “because that is what Ruto wants. No one will be elected at the national level who the boss does not want. Malala works well as a secretary general by talking a lot.”

“Malala seems to have the ears of the owners of the UDA party. He is a close associate of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, the presumptive referee in the December elections,” political analyst Kennedy Echesa said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei recently said those fighting Malala were fighting President Ruto, and such schemes will be countered.

The man in the middle of the storm, however, is upbeat that he will retain his post in the upcoming UDA elections.

“My position as SG is subject to election,” he said. “I will face any contestant, be it from the mountain, lake or plateau regions. We shall hold the elections, and they will be credible. There are two outcomes from an election; you either win or lose. I am ready for the election because UDA is a democratic party,” he added.