Inside UDA’s strategy to gain control of Parliament and the county assemblies

The national Assembly

DP William Ruto’s UDA will have a head start in the battle for control of the National Assembly, the Senate, County Assemblies and the Council of Governors.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) will have a head start in the battle for control of the National Assembly, the Senate, County Assemblies and the Council of Governors.

An analysis of a list of General Election candidates gazetted last weekend by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) shows UDA has sponsored more candidates for the five institutions than any of the other political parties.

UDA is fielding National Assembly candidates in 261 out of 290 constituencies countrywide, complemented by addition of candidates fielded by affiliate parties under the Kenya Kwanza Alliance.

Azimio candidates

The other main presidential candidate, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party’s Raila Odinga, has 181 National Assembly candidates under his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party flag, while the party’s partner in Azimio, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s governing Jubilee Party, has 178 candidates.

Dr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza allies, Musalia Mudavadi of Amani National Congress (ANC) and Moses Wetang’ula of Ford Kenya, have respectively sponsored 71 and 34 candidates for National Assembly.

Also from Kenya Kwanza, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap has fielded 28 while Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi’s Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) has 17.

Apart from ODM and Jubilee, other Azimio parties that have fielded a significant number of National Assembly candidates are former ruling party Kanu led by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi with 78, Wiper Democratic Movement of former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka with 69, and Democratic Action Party-Kenya associated with Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa with 61.

Multiple contestants

That Kenya Kwanza and Azimio both have many more candidates than the 290 National Assembly seats available is explained by the fact that, in many constituencies, there are multiple contestants from each coalition fighting each other.

In fact, the situation turns around when the list is analysed at the coalition level rather than by individual parties. Azimio then leads the pack with 567 candidates for National Assembly versus 366 for Kenya Kwanza.

It has 68 candidates for governor compared to Kenya Kwanza’s 57, and also leads with 100 to 68 for woman rep. 

This computation looks only at the main parties sponsoring a significant number of candidates within each coalition. 

Azimio is the most affected by the threat of split votes denying it seats it would otherwise expect to win, but a recent attempt by Mr Odinga to negotiate withdrawal of some candidates did not bear fruit.

There is latent fear within the coalition that, even if Mr Odinga wins the presidency, he could be hamstrung by Ruto majorities in the National Assembly, Senate and some county assemblies.

Independent candidates

All the parties in the main coalitions are also facing stiff competition from independent candidates and smaller parties that are not affiliated to either.

A total of 553 candidates are running for National Assembly seats as independents.

For the 47 Senate seats—one per county— that are available, UDA has 38 candidates. It also has 43 candidates for county woman representative to the National Assembly and 41 gubernatorial candidates countrywide. ODM has 31 senatorial, 34 woman rep and 23 gubernatorial candidates, mostly in counties perceived to be in Mr Odinga’s strongholds.

What remains of President Kenyatta’s Jubilee — after DP Ruto decamped to UDA — is banking on 33 candidates for Senate, 33 for woman rep candidates for 25 governor.

Control county assemblies

It seems Dr Ruto is also keen on controlling the county assemblies.

UDA has candidates in 1,291 out of 1,450 wards countrywide, while ODM follows with 808 and Jubilee (804).  The number of independent candidates vying for ward rep seats stands at 3,798.

UDA has sponsored candidates in almost all constituencies perceived to be strongholds of Kenya Kwanza principals Mr Mudavadi, Mr Wetang’ula, Mr Kingi and Dr Mutua.

In an element of sibling rivalry that has caused tensions within Kenya Kwanza, UDA has sponsored a candidate, Clement Logova Sloya, to battle it out with ANC’s Emmanuel Ayodi Lusigi in Mr Mudavadi’s home constituency of Sabatia, Vihiga County.

Also in the race are Mr Kivihya Timothy Kidunduhu of ODM, and six others. In Sabatia, still, UDA also has candidates for county assembly seats in Lyaduywa Izava, West Sabatia and Busali wards.

Dr Ruto’s party also has parliamentary candidates in four out of five constituencies and MCA candidates in 15 out of 25 wards in Vihiga County.

Mr Jackson Swadi Kedogo and Ms Violet Bagada Afandi are running for Vihiga County senator and woman rep, respectively, on UDA.

Mr Kedogo is wrestling with ANC’s Enosi Butiko and nine others, including nominated MP Godfrey Atieno Osotsi of ODM.

Wetang’ula’s home turf

In Bungoma County, Mr Wetang’ula’s home turf, UDA has fielded candidates in eight out of nine constituencies to battle it out with Ford Kenya candidates.

Dr Ruto has not fielded a candidate in Mr Wetang’ula’s Sirisia constituency, but he has MCA candidates in Namwela and Lwandanyi wards.

Out of the 12 constituencies in Kakamega County, Dr Ruto has 11 parliamentary candidates, whereas ANC has fielded candidates in all the constituencies.

Last month, Mr Mudavadi asked Vihiga residents not to ‘embarrass’ him, adding that they should elect only those seeking seats on his ANC party ticket.

“If you look keenly, do you think Sugoi [Dr Ruto’s home in Uasin Gishu County] residents can elect an ANC member of parliament in their backyard despite the fact that we are in one coalition?” Mr Mudavadi asked residents at a political rally.

 “Let’s be honest and say the truth. As much we are going to form a government, Ruto’s home MP will be from the UDA party.”

“Don’t embarrass me in this forthcoming general election; just give me an ANC MP in my backyard”.

In Busia County, UDA has fielded parliamentary candidates in all the seven constituencies.

In Trans Nzoia County, UDA has fielded candidates in Saboti, Kiminini, Endebes and Cherangany although Dr Ruto has spared Kwanza Constituency.

In Kilifi County, UDA has candidates in all the seven constituencies, including Magarini, which is the home turf of Mr Kingi.

Dr Ruto’s party also has fielded candidates in all the eight Machakos County constituencies, the home turf of outgoing Governor Mutua, whose MCC has candidates in six constituencies in the county.