Ruto’s choices as Jubilee party slips from his grasp

Deputy President William Ruto

Despite maintaining that they want to fight from within, DP allies have narrow choices based on their recent losses

About five political parties are winking at Deputy President William Ruto and are ready to offer him a running platform should his stay in Jubilee become untenable.

The booting of his close political allies in the Senate, the changes in Jubilee National Management Committee (NMC), intended purge at the National Assembly and the targeting of Nominated Senators who missed Monday’s State House meeting have placed a heavier burden on the DP.

While his allies have indicated the resolve to fight from within, the manner in which they conceded to both the changes in Senate and Jubilee Party, is indicative of the narrowed choices they have.

In the past, when political leaders of Ruto’s calibre were cornered, including himself, they opted out.

This is how he left his mother party Kanu where he served as secretary-general. He repeated it in ODM where he served as a deputy party leader. He also ditched United Democratic Movement (UDM) in 2012 for United Republican Party (URP) when it became clear to him he was fighting a losing battle.

It is a familiar road for the DP.

If he were to look to Central, where he seems to wield quite the support of elected MPs, he would be spoiled for choice. Among the parties winking at him is, The Service Party (TSP), the party founded by former Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri who was axed earlier this year.

Kiunjuri, a close ally of Ruto, was sacked after cavorting with the Tanga Tanga wing of Jubilee while at the same time serving in the Cabinet.

Soft landing

Another party waiting on the wings is Transformation National Alliance Party (TNAP) of Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria. He once claimed that the party was to accommodate those in Mt Kenya region who were aggrieved by the winding up of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s TNA.

Again, Kuria is a companion of the DP and has made it clear that he would stick by him.

Also, in Ruto’s fold is the Party of Reforms and Development (PDR). Initially, PDR was accommodated at DP’s private office at Trans National building before it was moved to Upper Hill.

Ironically, the party was established as Party of Action (POA) in February 2012 by Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju before Ruto took it over. In 2017, PDR endorsed incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and also won four seats in the National Assembly and one in the Senate.

Aldai MP Cornelly Serem is also said to have worked on a party that could give the DP with a soft landing should he decide to call it a day at the Jubilee Party.

In a phone interview with The Standard, Serem refused to give any details but noted that the road to 2022 for Ruto was secured.

“Our journey to 2022 is smooth, all those trying to put obstacles will get tired,” Serem said.

City lawyer Donald Kipkorir has asked the Deputy President’s wing to honourably resign and seek fresh mandate rather than rock the boat from within.

“Tanga Tanga must have the courage (and) resign from the government and seek a fresh mandate from the people if they are so popular. Their unceasing pontificating and talking down the President indirectly is hypocrisy and cowardice. Real men fight symmetric wars, terrorists and cowards fight asymmetric,” Kipkorir tweeted.

But Dismas Mokua, a political risk analyst based in Nairobi, dismissed the idea that Ruto can leave Jubilee before 2022.

According to Mr Mokua, the DP will have to endure pain as he taxis through his campaigns.

“Jubilee as a party is huge and enjoys nationwide support that gives one an edge. But for the 10 years, it will be in power, the DP will not be able to run away from it if it will not have delivered on its pledges,” he said.

The other option for the DP is to stay, fight from within and dislodge President Kenyatta’s team.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said Ruto’s camp has the numbers to take over key positions in the party.

“We will fight from within and ensure that only those with the interests of the party at heart are elected to steer it forward,” Barasa said.

Others like Kikuyu MP Kamau Ichungwa believe that it is the other side that will leave, not Ruto.

“We are in Jubilee to last. We are not visitors in Jubilee but shareholders. We will fight from within and shield our party from an attempted take over by those drunk with power,” Ichung’wa said.

Party Vice Chairman David Murathe has hinted in the past that they can also leave the party to the DP. Already, insiders in former ruling party, Party of National Unity (PNU) are on a roll about the party being prepared to take the spoils of war in the Jubilee.

Incessant wrangles

Knowledgeable insiders in PNU, as well as allies of Ruto, have in the last few weeks been harping on the possibility that President Kenyatta’s side is preparing the former ruling party as the house that will accommodate them when Jubilee is finally ruptured into a useless political entity due to the incessant wrangles.

In addition, Uhuru’s side has managed to formalise the return of Murathe after a year in the periphery. He had opted to resign following an uproar for publicly challenging the DP to quit.

According to Jubilee and PNU insiders, there have been ongoing high level and middle-level negotiations to mould PNU into the entity that will swallow the Uhuru-leaning Jubilee side if it is eventually paralysed by wrangles.

Even close allies of the DP have spoken about these plans. Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro claimed there were attempts to take the country back to tribal cocoons by collapsing Jubilee.

“They want to dismantle our party as they secretly plan for their political outfit for 2022 with interests to rebrand PNU,” he claimed while inspecting CDF projects at Kiawambeu chief camp last week.

Allies of the DP spare no effort in passing Jubilee of as a national outfight though it is an open secret that initial negotiations by Uhuru and Ruto on power-sharing were purely based on tribal arithmetic.

Grassroots mobiliser

They said Ruto is a serious grassroots mobiliser who formed the United Republican Party (URP) months to the 2013 elections and turned it into a popular outfit that won 76 parliamentary seats.

Linford Mutembei, who leads the Jubilee-allied Mt Kenya Youth Caucus, however, confirmed that there were ongoing intense negotiations favouring PNU.

“It is an open secret that Jubilee has monumental problems from its internal wrangles and Mt Kenya leaders seem to have consensus that they will need to negotiate the post-2022 arrangements through an entity they control.

“The feeling is that PNU is that entity and they will be going back home soon,” said Mutembei.

But John Kamama, the PNU Organising Secretary who has been a party official since the days of former President Mwai Kibaki, was hesitant to quantify the negotiations as anything more than routine inter-party interactions that continue with an eye on the next elections.

“Take it from me that the PNU will be a party to watch in 2022. We are coming back to our status as the ruling party,” Kamama said but denied claims that they have filed a notice of intention to change the outfit’s name to The National Unity Party at the office of Registrar of Political Parties. “That is completely untrue, we cannot drop a name that closely resonates with our legacy.”

John Okemwa, the PNU Secretary-General, separately denied knowledge of any negotiations about the party and the intended change of name. “I am hearing it from you so that is not from PNU. Parties are not run through rumours,” he said.

But Murathe dismissed any assertion on PNU saying those are innuendos by individuals seeking to secure their post-2022 future.

“Uhuru’s only concern, for now, is delivering his promises to Kenyans through the Big Four Agenda and securing his legacy,” Murathe said. “Naturally, he is going to fight anybody disrupting his attainment of that agenda.”



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