A rift has widened in Deputy President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza in Nyeri County, with some candidates in the alliance disputing calls for a six-piece voting pattern in the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) perceived base.
Dr Ruto is the leader of UDA and also doubles up as the leader of Kenya Kwanza alliance. He is seeking the presidential seat under UDA in the August 9 General Election.
In Nyeri, where he picked his presidential running mate Rigathi Gachagua, candidates under the alliance have been lamenting that they are not accorded a fair platform to solicit votes from residents during the unit's political rallies.
They claim that only UDA candidates are awarded the chance to address the public during such rallies that are mostly spearheaded by Dr Ruto or Mr Gachagua (Mathira MP).
Speaking to Nation on Sunday, Mr Wachira Keen and Mr Peter Munyiri – who are eyeing Kieni parliamentary seat and Nyeri governor seats respectively under Chama Cha Kazi (CCK) regretted that they get sidelined and embarrassed whenever they appear for the Kenya Kwanza rallies.
Mr Keen, a businessman, called on Dr Ruto to urgently address the matter to ensure the political ground at the grassroots is fair for all candidates under the coalition.
“We are concerned that whenever we conduct joint rallies, we are never given the chance to address the meetings. We are asking our presidential candidate to make the ground even for all of us because we do not want anybody to feel sidelined. It is my plea that Dr Ruto takes on board everybody,” Mr Keen said.
He said a fair chance should be accorded where there were many candidates under the alliance.
“We are all supporting Dr Ruto and I can assure you that Nyeri is fully behind his candidature. We want to continue supporting him jointly and we have no doubt that we will win,” Mr Keen said.
Mr Munyiri noted that UDA is reluctant in fully embracing affiliate political parties under the coalition.
“Clearly, I am a strong candidate at the grassroots and I am discouraging Nyeri residents against these calls for six-piece voting pattern because it brings a lot of incompetence. Apart from the top seat where we are supporting Dr Ruto, we should allow citizens to look for other visionary leaders within the coalition for those other seats,” Mr Munyiri said.
“I want the Kenya Kwanza coalition to completely embrace all candidates. We are on the ground and we have very strong ratings with the voters. These campaigns should be issue-based but not party affiliation. People of Nyeri should be allowed to make their own decisions,” he added.
Recently, affiliate party candidates who are eyeing for various elective seats met in Mukurweini town and claimed that Mr Rigathi and the entire UDA brigade had been sidelining them during the campaign rallies by not being given a chance to address the public.
Tetu parliamentary aspirant on Chama Cha Kazi (CCK) Mr Simon Ngatia dismissed the call for a six-piece voting pattern, arguing that leaders should be elected according to their capability to deliver on their manifesto.
“Even if we are in Kenya Kwanza, we want to inform those calling for election of candidates from one party that we are electing individuals based on their capacity to deliver and not on party’s popularity,” Mr Ngatia said.
Mukurweini Ford-Kenya parliamentary candidate Frank Njururi – argued that the issue would make the Kenya Kwanza presidential contenders lose votes to their competitors in Azimio La Umoja Kenya Kwanza coalition that is led by ODM leader Raila Odinga.
“When Hon Gachagua came to Nyeri recently during a political rally, he was mobilizing residents to vote for UDA candidates only. I tried to approach the dais but I was ejected by the security team. It seems like UDA wants to disassociate itself from Kenya Kwanza but we want to tell them that we are here to stay,” Mr Njururi said.
“I am sending a message to my Ford Kenya principal Moses Wetangula, ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and our leader Dr Ruto to tame Mr Gachagua’s outburst during political rallies especially in Mt Kenya. If action won’t be taken and necessary changes made in regard to this issue of six-piece voting pattern, it is going to be messy,” he added.