President William Ruto, Alfred Mutua

From right: President William Ruto, Alfred Mutua, Amason Kingi, Moses Wetang'ula and Musalia Mudavadi.

| File | Nation Media Group

Kenya Kwanza affiliates like Ford Kenya, ANC oppose merger plans with Ruto's UDA

Several Kenya Kwanza member parties have rejected President William Ruto’s push to dissolve them to form a political juggernaut for the 2027 re-election game plan.

At least seven parties, including National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya and the Amani National Congress (ANC) formerly led by the Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, told Sunday Nation that they have no plans to dissolve, citing lack of consultation in the merger plan.

The Kenya Kwanza parties have also accused President Ruto of sidelining them in key government appointments.

According to sources, the majority of the 13 affiliated parties have not been rewarded for their role in the 2022 campaign, a year after President Ruto came to power.

The rejection of the plan comes after United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary General Cleophas Malala claimed that seven parties had agreed to merge.

“Out of the 13 parties, seven have already agreed to merge. We are left with six, but they have not officially merged because they have to hold their National Delegates Conference (NDC) and follow the procedures set out in the Political Act,” Mr Malala said.

Mr Malala revealed that the merger strategy involves President Ruto leading the talks to bring the member parties together to forge a united front as a single party.

The Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu told the Nation that no single party has written to her office about the intention to merge.

Ms Nderitu further revealed that even the Chama Cha Kazi party - formerly led by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria - which issued a notice of dissolution last year, was yet to follow up on the dissolution process.

“None of the parties has written to us. Chama Cha Kazi had expressed interest but we have not heard from them since,” said Ms Nderitu.

In a meeting with the 100-year-old Communist Party of China two weeks ago, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Mr Malala said they will work with CPC “to build and strengthen its structures for an ideology-centred political party.”

“UDA is the younger brother of CPC, but it is the party of the future. We want to develop it like CPC. Work with us in creating structures and building the capacity of our staff,” Mr Gachagua said and added that most political parties in Kenya have died after presidential elections, and UDA should break that cycle.

“It cannot be a party for elections only. We must make UDA be around for 100 years. Our ideology is Bottom-up Economic Transformation. Training some of our staff will enable them to come back and transfer the knowledge to others,” Mr Gachagua added.

Ambassador Pingjian said the Government of China is ready to support the UDA party because a stable Kenya is good for both countries.

“China and Kenya have enjoyed strategic partnership for 60 years. We have confidence in the leadership of President William Ruto. We see a lot of potential in further cooperation. We are ready to facilitate party-to-party exchanges,” he said.

ANC secretary general and Emuhaya MP Omboko Milemba said the party would not disband. He said the party would remain an affiliate of Kenya Kwanza.

“We are not merging the Amani National Congress. We are not aware of any merger plan. We have not been consulted by anybody,” Mr Milema said.

Mr Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya, through its deputy leader Millicent Abudho, said it was not aware of any plans to dissolve Kenya Kwanza affiliates.

“We remain as Ford Kenya. We will continue to be an affiliate but there are no plans to disband. There are no such discussions because we have never talked about a merger,” she said.

Economic Freedom Party (EFP) leader Issack Hassan, Democratic Party (DP) secretary general Jacob Haji and Communist Party of Kenya national chairman Mwandawiro Mghanga said Dr Ruto had sidelined them in appointments.

The officials said the Alliance has never called its partner parties for a meeting since President Ruto formed the government.

“The majority of the partners are not aware of the merger plans. We have never had any meetings. We are not involved at all. We are not even sure if we are still members of Kenya Kwanza,” said Mr Hassan.

Dr Haji said only Attorney General Justin Muturi was appointed from the DP. He said the rest had been sidelined.

“We have no intention of disbanding. The UDA Secretary-General cannot purport to speak on our behalf. As a party we will continue to prepare for 2027 and we will field candidates for various seats,” said Dr Haji.

Mr Mghanga said member parties were concerned that the UDA was making statements without consulting its partners.

“Nobody can force us to fold. We are very concerned about the UDA statement because we have never held a meeting,” he said.

Officials from two other affiliated parties, one from MtKenya and the other from the North East, also rejected the pressure to fold. The officials, who did not want to be named, said it was too early to engage in merger talks.

In the run-up to the August 9 polls, President Ruto told parties that wanted to work with him to disband and join his UDA, before finally bowing to pressure to form the Kenya Kwanza Alliance with member parties that supported his presidential bid.

The opposition from the member parties is a blow to President Ruto’s plan to create a mega-party after a similar attempt to create the Jubilee Party - which was designed to replicate the dominance of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) and the Chinese Communist Party - enabled the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017, but later spectacularly disintegrated ahead of the 2022 vote.

The Jubilee Party was formed in the run-up to the 2017 elections through the dissolution of at least 11 political parties.

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa - a UDA MP - said pushing member parties to fold would create an unnecessary storm in the ruling alliance.