The decision by the vocal secretary-general of the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun), Mr Seth Panyako, to quit UDA points to a falling-out with the top leadership of the party.
While announcing his decision to resign from UDA, Mr Panyako, who unsuccessfully contested the Malava parliamentary seat on the party’s ticket, said the Kenya Kwanza leadership had reneged on promises made to Kenyans during the campaigns ahead of the August 9, 2022 presidential elections.
Mr Panyako, who spoke at the burial of former Maendeleo Democratic Party leader Joseph Amisi Omukanda in Esumeiya, Navakholo constituency on Saturday, said he had spoken to President William Ruto and made the decision to resign from UDA on account of his criticism of the 3 per cent housing fund deductions by the government and the Finance Bill 2023.
“I spoke to the President yesterday (Friday) at about 7pm … about the decision I took to oppose the 3 per cent housing plan and my criticism of the Finance Bill 2023, which in my view will overburden Kenyans by increasing taxes.
No longer tenable
“On account of the position I have taken, this will not allow me to continue holding my position as an official in UDA,” said Mr Panyako.
He then went ahead to criticise the Kenya Kwanza administration for reneging on the promises to create jobs and put money in the pockets of jobless Kenyans.
“I have decided to be with the ordinary Kenyans because when we were campaigning, we made many promises, including assessing the cost of living, but from the look of things, this government has changed the narrative and is now going for the poor Kenyans by increasing prices of basic commodities and overburdening them with new taxes,” said Mr Panyako at Esumeiya primary school grounds.
However, it has emerged that Mr Panyako has been sulking over what he considers failure by the President to recognise the contribution he made in the campaigns and reward him.
When President Ruto toured Malava constituency on April 29 to commission the 13km Malava-Kimang’eti-Ikoli road, Mr Panyako gave the event a wide berth.
President Ruto has also been working closely with the Malava MP Malulu Injendi, who is from ANC, a move that has jolted Mr Panyako’s plan to cement his foothold as the UDA point man in the region.
This has made Mr Panyako feel he is being snubbed by his party in his backyard in Malava constituency.
Sources within UDA party told the Nation that Mr Panyako has been lobbying for a key position in government, hoping President Ruto will reward him.
Dashed hopes of appointments
After he lost to Mr Injendi in the contest for the Malava parliamentary seat, Mr Panyako had hoped that President Ruto would reward him with an appointment to the key position in government but that did not happen.
He has lately been spending much of his time at his business premises in Kakamega town.
UDA Secretary General Cleophas Malala said Mr Panyako was asked by President Ruto to resign as a member of the party for openly campaigning against the government plans and the Kenya Kwanza manifesto.
“Mr Panyako was day dreaming when he told mourners that he has resigned as a UDA party official. From the record I have, Hassan Omar Sarai is the UDA deputy chairperson, Operations.
“Mr Panyako’s name does not feature anywhere in the list of current UDA officials,” said Mr Malala.
He said Mr Panyako had sent the wrong signal by criticising his party on issues the Kenya Kwanza administration promised Kenyans it would be implement as part of its manifesto.
“The housing project is part of our manifesto. As a party, we are implementing what we promised Kenyans and we are determined to follow the manifesto to the letter,” said Mr Malala.
Attempts by the Nation to contact Mr Panyako for an interview on his troubles with the UDA were unsuccessful. He did not answer calls made to his mobile number or respond to text messages.
His personal aide, Mr John Karakacha said: “I’m trying to reach him and I will update you later.”
Just how Mr Panyako, the vocal trade unionist, plans to reinvent him politically remains unclear but he appears to be scheming to ride the wave of the anti-government protests against the housing plan and the Finance Bill 2023 to find a new political footing.