Kenya Kwanza affiliate parties: Ruto is dishing out Hustler cake only to UDA members

UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina and Chairman Johnson Muthama

UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina and Chairman Johnson Muthama in Nairobi on January 17. Mr Muthama denies UDA has been mistreating Kenya Kwanza affiliate parties. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A storm is brewing in President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza coalition, with affiliate parties accusing the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) of sidelining and bullying them.

Leaders of some of the parties which inked pre-election deals with founding members of the coalition – UDA, Amani National Congress (ANC) and Ford Kenya – who spoke to the Sunday Nation yesterday complained that President Ruto is only focused on dishing out the “Hustler cake” to Johny-come-latelies without consulting the coalition caucus as agreed during the campaigns.

They argued that though some of them did not perform well in the August General Election, they collectively campaigned for the formation of Kenya Kwanza government, therefore any decision made should be consultative.

Democratic Party (DP) Secretary-General Jacob Ali Haji, whose former party leader Justin Muturi is now the country’s Attorney-General, told the Sunday Nation that they have been following the appointments made by the President keenly.

He added that those made have only favoured UDA and not the other parties forming Kenya Kwanza.

Dr Haji said after Dr Ruto was sworn in as the country’s fifth President, engagements with coalition partners have not taken place as was the case before the General Election.

He added that it could be the beginning of the end of the Kenya Kwanza coalition as affiliate parties are not happy with appointments to government and parastatal jobs “but are afraid to speak”.

“Decisions are being made by one party but we were equal partners during the signing of the Kenya Kwanza agreement. We did everything together to help Ruto win. Things changed after the election,” Dr Haji said.

“How will the alliance work when there are no meetings? The coalition caucus has never been convened. We are disappointed because UDA dominates everything.”

He added that DP candidates who lost in the August elections do not know if they will ever be rewarded for their role during the campaigns.

Dr Haji questioned the rationale of giving jobs to people “who played no role in the formation of the current government yet many individuals sacrificed their ambitions for the sake of Dr Ruto succeeding President Uhuru Kenyatta”.

“Mr Michael Kamau was nowhere. We never saw him during the campaigns but he has landed a job. Those of us who worked very hard are still in the cold. DP and other Kenya Kwanza affiliate parties are not being considered,” he said.

“It is a tradition for coalition parties across the world to meet. How will Kenya Kwanza survive? We are confused and don’t know who to approach on this issue. We have never been invited to some of these meetings. Decisions are being made by only one side. It is time we began considering our stay in this union.”

Mr Kamau was recently named the chairman of the National Health Insurance Board.

Looked down upon

Accusing UDA of mistreatment, Dr Haji asked the President to convene an urgent meeting with the 19 political parties that form the ruling coalition “to address the thorny matters”.

“It would be prudent if opportunities are shared with parties in the Kenya Kwanza coalition,” the DP secretary-general said.

Dr Haji’s sentiments were echoed by former Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera-led Farmers Party.

“We are yet to witness appointments for the Kenya Kwanza affiliates, especially those which signed pre-election agreements with UDA to be part of the coalition that propelled Dr Ruto to power,” Mr Nyakera told the Sunday Nation.

Kenya Kwanza alliance parties include UDA, ANC), Ford-K, Chama Cha Kazi, Communist Party of Kenya (CPK), The Service Party (TSP), Tujibebe Wakenya Party, Farmers Party, Devolution Party of Kenya, Economic Freedom Party, Umoja na Maendeleo Party and Democratic Party.

Others are National Agenda Party of Kenya, Grand Dream Development Party, United Democratic Movement of Mandera Senator Ali Roba and Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) of former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto.

CPK chairman Mwandawiro Mghanga also waded into the government jobs question, saying most of the Kenya Kwanza affiliate parties are perturbed by the way they are being treated by UDA.

Mr Mghanga added that if the matter is not addressed urgently, it might spell doom for ruling coalition.

“Our signing of the agreement was on principles. It is very unfortunate that UDA is not living to what we agreed on. Let UDA live true to the pre-election agreement because history will judge its leaders accordingly,” Mr Mghanga, a former MP and university student leader, said.

“A number of our candidates might have lost in August because of being in Kenya Kwanza but they should not be looked down upon.”

The complains are coming just days after President Ruto convened a consultative meeting at State House, Nairobi, with some of the Kenya Kwanza election losers in a move observers say is aimed at averting a possible fallout.

The Wednesday meeting, which was attended by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and brought together around 50 immediate former MPs who lost in the party primaries and General Election, came on the backdrop of complains in the ruling coalition that only new allies are being rewarded.

In the meeting which started at 8am and took an hour, President Ruto told disgruntled founder members of Kenya Kwanza to accommodate the latecomers.

The President added that he has a constitutional mandate to unite the country and ensure no region is left out in government appointments.

Sources who spoke to the Sunday Nation yesterday said Dr Ruto and Deputy President Gachagua asked for patience as they find positions in government the poll losers can be accommodated.

“Do not complain when you see us accommodate those who were not with us during the campaigns. I know the role you played in forming this government but we need everyone on board,” one of the leaders who attended the Wednesday meeting quoted President Ruto.

“I called this meeting today to show that I have not forgotten you. We must fight tribalism in Kenya. That is why we have to accommodate even those who were against us.”

Many leaders in Kenya Kwanza have been whining about the appointments made by the President but appear afraid of coming out in the open as they may be reprimanded.

They, however, continue to lobby for top government and parastatal positions, hence the Wednesday State House meeting.

Dr Ruto is said to have told the group that he does not want to be accused of favouring individuals who are in the ruling coalition when he is the president of all Kenyans.

Having named and appointed his Cabinet and Principal Secretaries, President Ruto and his deputy now find themselves in a delicate situation.

They must balance the interests of those who campaigned for them and individuals who are joining Kenya Kwanza from the rival Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition.

Yesterday, UDA chairman Johnson Muthama disagreed with leaders of affiliate parties saying the ruling outfit is mistreating them.

The former Machakos senator said those named to head ministries, government departments, parastatals and other organisations by the President are Kenyans dedicated to work for all.

Mr Muthama added that the appointments have nothing to do with party affiliation.

“It is not true to say that we have sidelined our partners. As a coalition, we are one. The Cabinet and Principal Secretaries appointed are not representatives of political parties,” he said.

“The President appointed qualified Kenyans. He did not go for party appointments because the government does not work like that.”

During an economic forum in Uasin Gishu County in May, Mr Gachagua – who was the Mathira MP – said the Kenya Kwanza government would be formed on the basis of the number of votes a region would bring to the basket.

“This government will be put on the table and shared, based on the number of votes every region will have brought,” Mr Gachagua said.

The leaders who supported Dr Ruto’s presidency and are yet to be land government positions are now banking on Cabinet Administrative Secretary (CAS) and ambassador positions.

They include the UDA chairman who is the face of the ruling coalition.

Mr Muthama was Dr Ruto’s pointman in Kitui, Makueni and Machakos counties during the presidential campaigns.

He has since been shortlisted for the male member position of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).

Former Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, former Soy MP Caleb Kositany, former Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono former Migori governor Okoth Obado and former Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala are also eyeing the positions.

Also hoping to land a top government jobs are former Nairobi governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko, former Laikipia woman representative Cate Waruguru, former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru, former Kisii deputy governor Joash Maangi, former Nairobi woman representative Millicent Omanga, former Starehe MP Simon Mbugua, immediate former Starehe MP Charles Njagua “Jaguar”, former nominated senator Isaac Mwaura, former Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, ex-Nandi woman representative Tecla Tum (Nandi) and MPs Cornelius Serem (Aldai), Moses Lessonet (Eldama Ravine), Joseph Limo (Kipkelion East), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati) among others.

Apart from politicians who campaigned for Dr Ruto and are yet to be land government jobs, there are individuals who were part of his economic advisory council like Dr Irene Asienga, Dr Robert Muriithi and Dr Crispin Bokea.

Some of the individuals still in the cold applied for the CAS positions.

Sources at the Public Service Commission told the Sunday Nation that those who applied for the CAS seats would have to wait until next year because the commission’s board has not sat and made a diary of the shortlisting.

With Christmas and New Year days falling on Sunday, the earliest the shortlisting can take place is next month.

Though President Ruto had said some of those who lost in the primaries and would not land government jobs would land tenders, he changed tune on Wednesday, saying they would all get state appointed, including serving in boards of parastatals.

President Ruto added that government tenders must be competitive.

“The boss also said that he is working hard to find us slots in the government but it will take time because it is not easy to accommodate everyone. He added that he does not want to be accused of sidelining some regions,” another leader who attended the Wednesday meeting told the Sunday Nation.

Numerical strength

President Ruto is said to have insisted that for him to deliver on his campaign promises, he needs everyone.

He underscored the need of turning around the country’s economy, “which will enable the government create more employment opportunities for millions of Kenyans”.

“There are people who cannot be here (State House) but I represent them. Who will fight for them to get money and jobs? It is I and you leaders who can access this place. Do not always think of your interests but work for ‘hustlers’. I would like to deal with poverty,” another leader quoted the President as saying.

At the same time, an agreement signed with parties forming the alliance in mid-April ties the fortunes of the small outfits to the number of seats in the Senate, National Assembly, Council of Governors and county assemblies.

“Subsequent to the outcome of the General Election scheduled for August 9, 2022, TSP shall be allocated a share of the appointive positions within the national government as may be agreed commensurate with the number of members of County Assemblies, National Assembly, Senate and governors elected through the TSP ticket and the general role played and effort by TSP in the presidential campaigns preceding the elections,” reads the agreement signed between the Kenya Kwanza Alliance Coalition and one of the small parties seen by the Sunday Nation in May.

Similarly, the funds the Kenya Kwanza coalition will get from the Exchequer through the office of Registrar of Political Parties will be shared, based on the numerical strength of the affiliate parties, the agreement says.

“TSP shall be allocated a share of the money received by the coalition from the Political Parties Fund as may be agreed commensurate with the number of members of County Assemblies, National Assembly, Senate and governors elected through TSP ticket, the general role played and effort by TSP in presidential campaigns in the General Election putting into consideration the formula contained in the Political Parties Act for sharing funds from the Political Parties Fund,” the agreement says.

A clause in the deal signed between President Ruto, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula is now working to the disadvantage of two Kenya Kwanza founding member parties.

The most affected in the arrangement is ANC and Ford Kenya, who founded Kenya Kwanza with UDA.

Their agreement was different from the one signed between UDA and the other parties.

The leadership of the National Assembly and Senate and key committees have gone to those who were elected on UDA tickets.

Though Mr Mudavadi and Mr Wetang’ula have benefited from the arrangement by landing plum positions – Prime Cabinet Secretary and Speaker of the National Assembly respectively – their foot soldiers are suffering as a result of a clause in the deal.

Some senior leaders of ANC and Ford Kenya are not happy with the manner in which they are being treated by their UDA counterparts, accusing them of greed.

Since these politicians and leaders are lobbying for government positions, they do not want to come out in public to protest and find themselves in bad books with the President.

Bungoma Woman Representative Catherine Wambilianga, who is also chairperson of Ford-K, recently told the Sunday Nation that it is unfair for UDA to give itself the chairmanship of all committees in the National Assembly and Senate when there are other parties in Kenya Kwanza.

She added that Ford-K would not raise the matter with the UDA “since that would be an exercise in futility”.

“It is not in order for UDA to take up the leadership of departmental committees. For what purpose should we raise the matter and when is already done?” Ms Wambilianga asked.

ANC and Ford Kenya are haunted by a clause in the agreement which says responsibilities will be shared on pro-rata basis.

“Subsequent to the General Election of August 9, 2022, the founding member parties shall allocate positions of responsibility/leadership particularly the positions of chairpersons of the parliamentary committees of the National Assembly and the Senate, pro-rata, depending on the number of the National Assembly or the Senate seats won by each founding member party and depending further on the need to achieve an inclusive government that reflects the face of Kenya, including the need to accommodate the representation of any future member party and/or region of Kenya,” reads Article 20 of the agreement inked between ANC, UDA and Ford-K on April 5, 2022.