In Summary
  • The cracks in Jubilee are wide but the top leadership is hell-bent on showing a united face.
  • This weekend, several Jubilee MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto had their security withdrawn in what is an apparent attempt to frustrate them.

  • Last week, party secretary-general Raphael Tuju openly contradicted the DP, who is also the deputy party leader, in an unprecedented move.

  • As for ODM, tension has been simmering in the party and its performance in the mini-polls, particularly in Ugenya.

The country’s top political parties, Jubilee and ODM, are at a crossroads, rocked by internal fighting that could see them crumble before the next elections.

The two, like others before them, have started showing signs of disintegration, buttressing the long-held view that parties in Kenya are only a means to acquire power.

Jubilee was formed in 2016 amid much fanfare, which rekindled the days of the mighty Ford before it disintegrated into Ford-Kenya, Ford-People and Ford-Asili.

IDEOLOGY

Some 12 parties came together to form Jubilee, including TNA and URP.

Jubilee promised ideology-led politics, but events in the recent months suggest a party that may not even celebrate its fifth birthday intact.

The cracks in Jubilee are wide but the top leadership is hell-bent on showing a united face.

This weekend, several Jubilee MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto had their security withdrawn in what is an apparent attempt to frustrate them.

Last week, party secretary-general Raphael Tuju openly contradicted the DP, who is also the deputy party leader, in an unprecedented move that left political observers with no doubt that Jubilee is no longer reading from the same script.

While Mr Tuju announced that ODM had pulled out of the Wajir West by-election following consultations between the parties’ bosses, Mr Ruto had accompanied the former ODM candidate (Mohamed Yusuf Elmi) as he announced to the media that he had pulled out of the race following an agreement with elders, and that he would back the Jubilee candidate (Mohamed Kolosh). ODM leaders from Wajir also buttressed the point that it was Mr Ruto’s political acumen that led the ODM candidate to pull out.

RESIGNATION

When he resigned in January as vice-chairman, Mr David Murathe had stated that differences between him and Mr Ruto had led him to make that decision. Four months on, his position has not been filled, raising questions about whether his resignation letter was officially accepted by the party leader, President Kenyatta, or whether he was just playing to the gallery.

MPs, especially those aligned to the “Tanga Tanga” group, have been pushing for the party to have either a retreat or a parliamentary group meeting where they will discuss the apparent cracks.

Mr Tuju said the party will have a retreat ultimately but could not specify when this will happen.

“We will have a retreat. We will also have seminars and workshops to discuss the party academy. However, these will not be dictated by anyone. There will be no pressure, the meetings will happen as per the party’s schedule. Pressure won’t work at all. People should be able to interact out of holding a common ideology,” he said.

ODM, on the other hand, which was launched more than a decade ago, has enjoyed massive support across the country, but not anymore.

Launched in 2005 after the constitutional referendum won by leader Raila Odinga’s orange side against President Mwai Kibaki’s banana camp, the party has enjoyed huge representation, and in the 2007 elections, barely two years after its registration, had majority legislators in Parliament.

In 2008, the party won the coveted House Speaker seat through former Emuhaya MP Kenneth Marende and Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim.

MANOEUVRES

After the 2007 general election, ODM had a total of 99 MPs against the Party of National Unity’s 4.

ODM had 16 MPs, Kanu 14 and Narc three, among other parties.

At one time, former Cabinet minister and ODM loyalist Gerald Otieno Kajwang’ boasted that the party would only be compared to the African National Congress of South Africa.

Apart from nomination troubles that have always endangered the existence of the Orange party, today, it is at the crossroads following internal wrangles, confusion among members and supporters on the objectives of the March 2018 handshake between Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta and, above all, dismal performance in the just concluded by-elections in Ugenya and Embakasi South.

Even though the party leadership led by Mr Odinga has insisted there was no cause for alarm, behind-the-scenes political manoeuvres depict a divided party with factions emerging.

Early last week, at a press briefing in Nairobi on the outcome of the two by-elections, Mr Odinga said there was no big deal after the loss.

“What’s the big deal?” Mr Odinga said when asked to comment on the results of the by-elections.

When asked whether he had any problem with Siaya Senator James Orengo, who led the Ugenya campaigns, he fumed: “What do you mean? What problem? Orengo is a loyal party member.”

STRATEGY

But despite his position, party insiders told the Sunday Nation that tension has been simmering in the party and its performance in the mini-polls, particularly in Ugenya, could have resulted from the transformations.

For the Ugenya loss, anger has been directed at Mr Orengo, who was apparently the party’s chief campaigner for Chris Karan.

Mr Karan managed 14,507 votes against the Movement for Democracy and Growth candidate David Ochieng’s 18,730 votes.

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