Confusion mars Ruto UDA-ANC merger plan as officials object

President William Samoei Ruto chats with Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi during the release of the 18th Cycle Report on Evaluation of the Performance of Ministries, State Corporations and Tertiary Institutions for the Financial Year 2021/2022 at KICC Nairobi. [File, Standard]

The announcement by President William Ruto and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi on a planned merger between the ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and the Amani National Congress (ANC) has thrown their followers into disarray.

The creation of a new party has caused anxiety among elected leaders in both parties who will now have to either subscribe to the new party or scout for new special-purpose vehicles to carry their dreams.

UDA-sponsored leaders have invested heavily in the ongoing grassroots polls in the hope that they could cling to party seats and get a foothold in the party’s National Delegates Conference (NDC), the single most major decision-making organ of the party. But all their efforts appear to have been nullified by the president’s announcement on Wednesday because a new party would call for fresh grassroots elections or the consensus democracy.

“The people of Kenya have told us they don’t want politics of tribalism, and the replacement for politics of tribalism is making sure we consolidate the place of our political parties as the institutions of democratic governance. You cannot have a democracy without solid political parties built, not based on personality cults or tribes, but based on the solid basis of an agenda, of a vision, of a plan,” Ruto said.

Yesterday, UDA National Election Board (NEB) chairperson Antony Mwaura added to the growing confusion when he issued a notice of grassroots elections for the Nairobi county after a series of delays.

According to Mwaura, the elections, which pits Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja against Embakasi North MP James Gakuya, will be held on Saturday at Bomas of Kenya.

 “To all constituency delegates, governors, deputy governors, senators and women representatives of UDA, please be advised that the county-level elections for Nairobi will be conducted on June 22, 2024, and will take place at the Bomas of Kenya,” the statement read.

The confusion has been further compounded by a statement by UDA’s Secretary General Cleophas Malala, who told The Standard yesterday that the ruling party will not fold. He said the agreement with ANC was for the latter to fold and join UDA.

Malala maintained that UDA, a party with over 150 members of parliament could never merge with ANC which has only four.

“This is the position. UDA is not folding. Let them (ANC) accept the reality that they have agreed to fold and join UDA. How can a party with over 150 MPs merge with a party with only four MPs? That is not viable,” Malala told The Standard on phone.

According to Malala, the ruling party is set to meet with Senate speaker Amason Kingi’s Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) and Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Public Service, Performance and Delivery Management Moses Kuria’s Chama Cha Kazi (CCK) next week and later the United Democratic Movement (UDM). Malala said it would not be logical to keep changing the name, the symbol and the colour of their party every time they meet with a new party.

But Lamu governor Issa Timamy, maintained that the meeting at State House discussed the impending merger between ANC and UDA, with the two parties agreeing that the move will foster stronger national unity and progressive democratic governance.

“ANC and UDA agreed and resolved to form a joint implementation committee composed of both political and legal minds to expedite the merger process,” Timamy said in a statement.

Nyeri governor Mutahi Kahiga, however, poured cold water on the merger process and its intention claiming there was no democracy in Kenyan political parties as they serve individual interests.

“Kenya is yet to reach the political democratic levels of the United States where there are Democrats and Republicans because in our case we are still struggling with the single minded personality cult,” Kahiga told The Standard on phone.