President Ruto's grand plan to swallow Mudavadi, Wetang'ula parties

President William Ruto.

President William Ruto. Buoyed by its majority in Parliament, the Council of Governors and county assemblies, Ruto's UDA has revived talks to actualise its dream of merging all Kenya Kwanza affiliates into one political party.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Buoyed by its majority in Parliament, the Council of Governors and county assemblies, President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has revived talks to actualise its dream of merging all Kenya Kwanza affiliates into one political party.

The party now plans to hold grassroots and party leadership elections next month, a key step in establishing its roots, before the merger talks begin.

Dr Ruto, the Nation has learnt, repeated the one-party dream, initially touted by UDA chairman Johnson Muthama, in a meeting with Kenya Kwanza Alliance poll losers in State House, Nairobi, last week. 

The President and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua asked the leaders to help them build a strong party, which will not be affiliated with any region or ethnicity.

Dr Ruto is said to have told the leaders that negotiations are ongoing in Kenya Kwanza to ensure affiliate parties join UDA, and come 2027, the ruling coalition will only have one party, which is UDA, with its famous wheelbarrow symbol.

“We want UDA to have a proper national outlook and we will have elections in early 2023 to make it strong. Talks are currently underway to ensure that we have only one party, not splinter parties,” a source quoted President Ruto as saying in the meeting.

Ethnic politics

DP Gachagua asked the leaders to help the leadership of UDA to build a strong party, which will end ethnic politics in the country.

“We want to build a strong party for everyone in the country. The party will not be associated with any tribe, but one that will have all regions,” another source from Rift Valley quoted Mr Gachagua.

To achieve the dream of having, the ruling UDA says it has to strengthen itself across the country by giving itself a timeline of four years from now, to build strong structures similar to what the independence party Kanu had during its heyday.

Kenya Kwanza now has 18 parties in its fold.

These are Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC), National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya, his Senate counterpart Amason Kingi’s Pamoja African Alliance (PAA), Attorney General Justin Muturi’s Democratic Party, Laikipia East MP Mwangi Kiunjuri’s The Service Party, former Kiambu governor William Kabogo’s Tujibebe Wakenya Party, and Mandera Senator Ali Roba’s United Democratic Movement.

The others include the Communist Party of Kenya, the Farmers Party, the Devolution Party of Kenya, the Economic Freedom Party, the Umoja na Maendeleo Party, the National Agenda Party of Kenya, the Grand Dream Development Party, and Chama Cha Mashinani of the former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto.

UDA is banking on its planned grassroots elections, slated for February 2023, to elect its officials ahead of the big merger.
The ruling UDA seems to be following in the footsteps of Jubilee's behemoth plan, though it is not clear whether other parties will agree to it.

Formed in September 2016 after the merger of 12 parties, Jubilee Party became a monolith, with at least one elected representative in 41 of Kenya’s 47 counties. It won 171 seats in the National Assembly –140 in the 290 constituencies, 25 of the 47 woman representatives and six of the 12 nominated MPs – coming just 62 shy of a two-thirds majority.

The party also won 25 governor seats, and 34 of the 67 senator seats (25 of them elected), cementing its position as Kenya’s largest political party at the time.
Mr Muthama told the Nation that UDA is out to put in place proper structures so that it can be felt in every corner of the country.

Kenya Kwanza leaders

President William Ruto (centre) with Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi (left) and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula in Nairobi on April 9, 2022.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

With the instructions of Dr Ruto, Mr Muthama says the elections will take place from the villages to the national level to enable them to have officials promoting the party at all levels, hence giving it an advantage over the rest.
“UDA is still a new party; we have yet to put proper structures from the grassroots and that is why it was announced by the President in October that we would conduct the elections from February 2023. It will happen from the village, then sub-location, location, sub-county and county then the national team and that will make the party vibrant because we will have a village chairperson up to the national level as we subscribe to bottom-up,” he said.

“In the next four years, the party will be in every corner of this country. By that, everyone will market UDA, hence, in 2027, if a person wants to win an election, he/she will have to vie on UDA.”


Mr Muthama had disclosed that they were contemplating having only come the 2027 General Election, noting that they are welcoming those ready to fold their parties to join UDA. He underscored that UDA will not force any political party to dissolve, but they want to form a bigger and stronger party ahead of the 2027 polls. 

“We want to go to the 2027 election as a political party known as UDA. Our election will be about the party now and that is why we are conducting elections at the grassroots. Anyone who feels like he/she wants to fold his/her party and join UDA, the doors are open for that person to do that,” he said.

The UDA chairman said although the Kenya Kwanza affiliate parties are still independent, every party is entitled to strengthen itself and that is what UDA is working on.

“Parties in Kenya Kwanza are still existing as independent. Nobody has announced that they are not strengthening their parties. [We are] strengthening our party to be strong and big. 

“Our colleagues in the Kenya Kwanza should do the same because if we will need another coalition or continue with this, we will need strong parties. When strengthening a party, you are not doing it on behalf of another person but yourself,” he explained.

But political pundits are of the opinion that the events of the Bungoma by-election should send a signal to UDA that pushing for one party could be a losing battle.

“They will not succeed. Preliminary evidence of that by-election in Bungoma where both UDA and Ford Kenya fielded candidates, but Ford Kenya emerged victorious. Therefore, their plan will not work. 
“Although the party might be popular in certain regions, it cannot be accepted everywhere,” said United States International University’s (USIU) don Macharia Munene said.

“People form political parties to remain relevant in politics, hence it is not easy to be persuaded to dissolve those parties. The move by UDA is a normal effort; it might be stronger but other parties dissolving is not possible.”
But for political risk analyst Dismas Mokua, Dr Ruto has proved to be a trustworthy politician, hence it would not be difficult for his one-party dream to succeed.

“President Ruto has introduced trust in the Kenyan political space. Partners are happy with the obtaining situation. He has kept his promises consistent with the coalition agreement,” said Mr Mokua.

In October during the Kenya Kwanza Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting, Dr Ruto and Mr Gachagua confided in their audience that to boost their chances of success in the 2027 General Election, they have to be in one big party that will preserve either the UDA or Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA) trademarks. 


But Democratic Party secretary-general Jacob Ali Haji told the Nation that they will not be cowed by UDA into folding their parties.

“The concept of having only UDA can never happen. Our parties will continue to exist and such moves are what will interfere with the coalition,” he said.
Former Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera-led Farmers Party says it will act on the proposal based on the logic given by UDA behind such a plan

“I have heard of such discussions but am not privy to the full justification. As a party, we will wait to be addressed on that matter and open to what’s rational,” said Mr Nyakera.
For Ford Kenya chairperson Catherine Wambilianga, who is also the Bungoma woman representative, the plan is premature and would take time to actualise.

“Not at the moment,” said Ms Wabilianga.

Communist Party of Kenya chairman Mwandawiro Mghanga told the Nation that as communists, it would not be possible to dissolve and join UDA, arguing that they only joined KKA to champion the bottom-up agenda, but that does not mean they have the same ideologies as other parties.

“Communist cannot be dissolved. We are in Kenya Kwanza to realise bottom-up. We have been pushing for this progressive agenda. As communists, we can never dissolve. Others can do it but for us, we cannot,” he said.