Plan to collapse Kenya Kwanza parties into UDA draws mixed reactions
A proposal to have all the political parties in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance wind up and join UDA in preparation for the 2027 General Election has rattled some of President William Ruto’s key allies.
Like President Uhuru Kenyatta before him, who convinced 12 parties to dissolve and form the Jubilee Party in the run-up to his 2017 re-election bid, President William Ruto’s allies have revealed plans for a similar move.
“We want to go to the 2027 election as a political party known as UDA. Our election will be about the party,” UDA Chairman Johnson Muthama said. Dissolution will be voluntary, and UDA is organising itself for such an eventuality, including planning grassroots polls, he added.
One party dream
“Parties in Kenya Kwanza are still existing as independent (entities). Nobody has announced that they’re not strengthening their parties. We’re strengthening our party. Our colleagues in Kenya Kwanza should do the same because if we will need another coalition or continue with this one, we will need strong parties,” Mr Muthama said.
Like Jubilee before it, UDA hopes to achieve its one party dream in the vein of the Communist Party of China and South Africa’s African National Congress, which are often more powerful than the sitting Head of State.
“On the foundation of the party, we’re looking forward to have a strong party like the Communist Party of China. As the chairperson of UDA, my prayer to God and Kenya is that we have just three political parties in the country so that we do away with tribalism ...
My prayer is to have a foundation which can unite Kenyans not forcefully but on their own will,” he said.
In an earlier interview, UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina said no Kenya Kwanza party will be compelled to fold.
“It’s more strategic for someone who is in the Cabinet to offload party responsibilities to focus on their new roles,” she said.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said Kenya Kwanza will have only one party, UDA.
“All those who have been appointed Cabinet secretaries will now fold their parties so that we have one party, one government, and one coalition,” he said.
Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi, his Democratic Party (DP) counterpart Justin Muturi, Maendeleo Chap Chap (MCC) boss Alfred Mutua, and Chama Cha Kazi (CCK) leader Moses Kuria were all nominated to the Cabinet.
Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetang’ula and Pamoja African Alliance boss Amason Kingi have been elected as Speakers of the National Assembly and Senate, respectively.
Giving credence to the plan to have one party, Mr Kuria’s CCK has started the process of dissolving itself. In a notice in the dailies, members were given three weeks to submit their views on the plan.
“Chama Cha Kazi would like to issue notice to all the members... of the decision to merge Chama Cha Kazi with the United Democratic Alliance,” reads the notice.
But other parties don’t seem eager to join the plan, with some appearing uneasy at the pace UDA wants it to happen.
DP’s National Chairman Esau Kioni said if Kenya Kwanza affiliates join UDA, they will lose their right to have divergent views without feeling intimidated.
“It will be like taking us back to the old days. Folding to join UDA is not possible because it will bring to an end the culture of talking to each other,” he said.
Former Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera said his Farmers Party will wait to hear what the proposal entails.
He said: “I’ve heard of such discussions but I’m not privy to the full justification. As a party we... are open to what’s rational.”
Kibwezi West MP Mwengi Mutuseand MCC official said he wasn’t aware of any such plan. However, he insisted that if it’s to happen, proper structures should be used.
Ford Kenya chairperson Catherine Wambilianga, who is also the Bungoma Woman Rep, termed the scheme premature.
“The concept will take time. Not at the moment,” she said.
Communist Party of Kenya Chairman Mwandawiro Mghanga said his outfit had no plans to fold and join UDA. “We’re in Kenya Kwanza to realise bottom-up. We’ve been pushing for this progressive agenda,” he said.
The merger plan offers President Ruto another opportunity to craft a mega party after his attempt to build Jubilee failed.
Political bigwigs are set to relinquish their party positions before taking oath of office to serve in different dockets within the Kenya Kwanza government. The law bars State officers from holding office in political parties.
This will affect Mr Mudavadi, Dr Mutua and UDA Deputy Secretary-General Eliud Owalo.
“A full-time State officer shall not participate in any other gainful employment. Any appointed State officer shall not hold office in a political party,” reads Article 77 (1, 2) of the Constitution.
Mr Mudavadi is set to hand over ANC’s leadership to party National Chairman Kelvin Lunani. Some pundits say this could be the end of ANC since parties in the country are personality-based.
“The resignation of Musalia Mudavadi as ANC boss will mark the end of it as a party. If Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetang’ula blunders and resigns as party leader, then it will equally die,” said political commentator Martin Andati.
The August polls saw many parties lose popularity. ANC now has only five MPs, a far cry from the 14 it had after the 2017 polls. Ford Kenya, which had 13 legislators and two governors in 2017 now has five MPs and one governor.