Party hopping: Ruto reaps big as Uhuru’s party bleeds 

William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto has a light moment with Jesus Celebration Centre’s Bishop Wilfred Lai during a church service on March 27, 2022. The DP was accompanied by Mombasa gubernatorial aspirant Hassan Omar among other politicians.

Photo credit: WACHIRA MWANGI | Nation

What you need to know:

  • Political parties will now be focusing on nominations to meet the IEBC deadline of April 22.
  • Politicians had up to Saturday to switch parties before the August elections.

Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance won big while President Kenyatta’s Jubilee was the biggest loser in the number of aspirants who switched parties before the March 26 deadline.

At least 125 elected leaders, including governors, joined UDA with most of them coming from Jubilee.

The Orange Democratic Movement of Azimio la Umoja flagbearer Raila Odinga and Democratic Action Party-Kenya of Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa also benefited from the hemorrhage at the Amani National Congress and Ford-Kenya in Western.

Some of the notable figures in Jubilee who joined UDA are governors Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), Samuel Tunai (Narok) and Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia).

Jubilee netted Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja from Mr Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper, while ODM bagged Kajiado County boss Joseph Ole Lenku from the ruling party. The Orange party lost Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri to DAP-K and MPs Aisha Jumwa (Malindi), Wilson Sossion (nominated) and Owen Baya (Kilifi North) to UDA.

Prof Ongeri will run for the Kisii gubernatorial seat.

“I am appealing to all members of the Kisii community to see me as a man of peace who would bring Kenyans together,” he said.

Notable defectors

Ford-Kenya, led by Senator Moses Wetang’ula, lost the only governors it had – Mr Khaemba and Bungoma’s Wycliffe Wang’amati, who joined DAP-K. Former Ford-Kenya deputy party leader Richard Onyonka joined ODM, from where he will seek the Kisii senatorial seat.

Led by former Vice President Musalia Mudavadi, ANC lost Vihiga Senator George Khaniri to United Democratic Party (UDP), MPs Tindi Mwale (Butere), Christopher Aseka (Khwisero), Titus Khamala (Lurambi) and Oku Kaunya (Teso North) joined ODM, while Ayub Savula (Lugari) moved to DAP-K.

Mr Musyoka’s party netted former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko. In a letter to Jubilee, Mr Sonko thanked the party for assisting him prior to his impeachment and maintained that his removal from office was illegal.

“I would like to thank the party leadership for the support that they provided me while I served as a Governor of the Nairobi City County before I was unlawfully removed from office and hope that they can help change this country for the better,” the letter stated.

Political parties now shift their focus to primaries next month. ODM has listed 21 counties where it will undertake nominations for various seats between April 1 and April 21, according to party’s National Elections Board (NEB) chairperson Catherine Mumma.

The notice excluded counties in Mt Kenya, Eastern and the Rift Valley.

This suggests that the party may not field candidates in those counties, in favour of their Azimio coalition partners, or will likely select candidates through direct nominations, opinion polls or consensus.

Party primaries

“The NEB hereby notifies all aspirants who have applied to vie for the different electoral seats on the ODM party ticket that the party primaries through the method of universal suffrage shall take place on the mentioned dates,” Ms Mumma said.

Guidelines issued by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in January dictate that all parties cleared to contest in the general election conclude their nominations by April 22.

UDA Will conduct its nominations on April 14, the party’s NEB said. The nominations will be held in all wards, constituencies and counties.

“The party reiterates its commitment to render free, fair, verifiable and democratic party primaries. Aspirants are encouraged to continue preparing and popularising their bid,” a statement signed by Mr Anthony Mwaura, UDA's NEB chair, said. 

Jubilee deputy secretary-general Joshua Kutuny (Cherang’any MP) said their aspirants’ registration exercise was impressive, saying the party had attracted at least five aspirants in almost all wards in the country.

“We have a very good turnout. We are going to rollout candidates in every corner of this country. In fact, now, in every Constituency surprisingly, we have an average of five to seven candidates. In every ward, we got an average of four-five, other places there are even 10,” said Mr Kutuny.