UDA elections in limbo after two groups differ over dates

UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala (centre) during the UDA National Women Congress at Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. October 13, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The President’s party grassroots elections hang in the balance after two factions sharply differed over the planned date.

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) elections have been slated for December 9 but divisions have emerged over whether the polls should be pushed to next year.

The Standard has reliably learnt that two factions are pushing for different dates.

President William Ruto’s allies are adamant that UDA elections should be held in December, with plans afoot to oust current interim officials they accuse of mismanaging the party.

But another group wants the elections pushed to next year, a move that will see the terms of the current officials extended. Last week, the UDA women’s congress attended by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, resolved to have the elections deferred to next year.

UDA top brass will meet on November 2 to discuss the differing opinions.

The Deputy President Wednesday chaired the National Steering and Management meeting at the party headquarters in Nairobi, where UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala said the elections would go on as planned.

“As it stands right now, the elections will be held in December but the resolution by the national women’s congress is an agenda that has been put for our meeting in the subsequent week,” said Malala, playing down divisions within UDA.

“We don’t have any wrangles in UDA. What we have is a big democratic space whereby everybody is at liberty to say whatever they want to say and we have an amicable way of sorting out the issues,” said Malala, who has faced criticism over his running of the party.

There were indications before the meeting that the National Governing Council would address housekeeping issues, including the refurbishment of offices and how money had been used to roll out branches across the country.

There were expectations too to consider a proposal to defer the party elections. However when The Standard sought information about the deliberations Malala brushed off the questions and insisted that he was being targeted unfairly.

Who is complaining?

He demanded to know the source of complains about use of party funds and accused the media of deviating from the information provided during his briefing.

“We will have to write a letter to The Standard. You are running a narrative which is not good for the party. We have a list of all the journalists who attended. Who is your source? posed Malala.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa recently branded the UDA Secretary General an opposition mole, seeking his ouster from the party. Other politicians from Western region, including Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, have also faulted Malala’s handling of National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi.

Dr Khalwale last week said he had petitioned the party to have the secretary general removed from office, which Malala said the secretariat was yet to receive. The former Kakamega senator has been the face of Ruto’s push for dissolution of parties affiliated party to Kenya Kwanza Alliance to join UDA.

Vibrant party

“A party without conflict is not a party. This is a sign of a vibrant party... we will have many conflicts ahead and after the elections and we have proper mechanisms to ensure we put our membership together,” Malala said.

Sabatia MP Clement Sloya defended the UDA secretary general saying that he was driving the party agenda.

“Some people have faith in Malala and others don’t. That is normal. As spokesperson of UDA, he speaks for all elected leaders and he has proven that he can work under pressure. He should be given time to work,” said Sloya.

UDA Treasurer and Kitutu Chache North MP Japheth Nyakundi said the party would form the national election board in readiness for the December polls and a dispute resolution committee to settle issues arising from the exercise.

“We will have a verifiable and accountable election... we will be having the deputy party leader here every two weeks and the party leader after every month to ensure we are prepared as a party,” Nyakundi said. Kesses MP Julius Rutto urged the secretariat to ensure smooth elections.

“As party members, we are happy with the plans. We are only asking that what they tell us is there,” said Rutto.

[email protected]