William Ruto

Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi (left), Deputy President William Ruto (centre) and Ford-Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula during a joint rally at Posta Grounds in Bungoma on January 28, 2022.

| Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Ruto-Mudavadi alliance opens fresh battlefronts in counties

What you need to know:

  • The tremors of their alliance are being felt in Nairobi, Central, Western and the Rift Valley.
  • Mudavadi’s camp is against UDA fielding candidates in Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma and Vihiga Counties. 

The deal between Deputy President William Ruto, Amani National Congress (ANC) boss Musalia Mudavadi and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetang’ula has opened new battlefronts as hopefuls eye Senate and governor positions using parties in the Kenya Kwanza coalition.

The tremors of their alliance are being felt in Nairobi, Central, Western and the Rift Valley.

The political partnership has also brought on board former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo of Tujibeba Wakenya Party.

During the ANC National Delegates Conference in Nairobi, Mr Kabogo said he would  always walk with Mr Mudavadi.

One of the demands of Mr Mudavadi’s camp is that Dr Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) will not field candidates in Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma and Vihiga. 

But Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, a Ruto supporter, is against the proposal. He argues against zoning, insisting on  joint primaries.

“How can one promote and stifle democracy at the same time? The best option is joint nominations. Whoever wins in the primaries should carry the flag of the coalition,” Mr Washiali said.

The ANC demand will disfranchise the Dr Ruto’s supporters in these regions.  The Kakamega governor contest is a clear example of potential conflict. It has attracted allies of Dr Ruto and Mr Mudavadi.

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale is the UDA ticket frontrunner while incumbent Cleophas Malala is also eyeing the seat on an ANC ticket.

Some politicians from UDA, ANC and Ford-K are between a rock and a hard place after crossing from one party to another but are now forced to share a platform with those they parted ways with.

Dr Khalwale abandoned Ford Kenya for UDA while Malava MP Malulu Injendi jumped from UDA to ANC.

The former senator has been popularising UDA in the region for many months while Mr Malala has played a significant role in bringing Dr Ruto and Mr Mudavadi together.

Should the Kenya Kwanza alliance opt for zoning, UDA aspirants in Western will be the greatest casualties as the region would remain an ANC and Ford-K stronghold.

A number of leaders in the region are shifting to other political formations for fear of ending up as casualties of the zoning.

Should this continue, the Democratic Action Party Kenya (DAP-K) – which is associated with Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi and his Tongareni colleague Eseli Simiyu – could be the greatest beneficiary. 

DAP-K recently bagged ANC lawmakers Ayub Savula (Lugari), Oku Kaunya (Teso North) and Peter Nabulindo (Matungu). Mr Washiali says he will not defend his Mumias East seat in August. 

Contacted, Dr Khalwale said the zoning “propaganda” is being spread by Azimio la Umoja proponents who want to instil fear in supporters of the new political alliance. 

Azimio la Umoja Movement is led by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga. 

“The good thing is that UDA, Ford-K and ANC are working together and selling their manifestos to Kenyans. When time comes for settling on candidates, we shall use an amicable and democratic process to ensure we win as many seats as possible in the August 9 General Election,” Dr Khalwale said.

Ruto's mathematics

The situation is expected to play out in Nairobi too, where Senator Johnson Sakaja who is allied to Mr Mudavadi and Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, an ally of the DP want to be governor.

Bishop Wanjiru has been criss-crossing the city drumming up support for UDA and the DP.

A source told the Saturday Nation that the senator is being pushed by the Mudavadi camp as the Kenya Kwanza candidate for Nairobi as part of the seats ANC insists should be reserved for it. Bishop Wanjiru says she will go all the way to the ballot.

UDA chairman Johnson Muthama yesterday said the party would settle the matter fairly. 

“The formula that brought us together will be applied to sort out these problems,” the former Machakos senator said. 

Mr Kabogo’s declaration of walking with the ANC leader complicates the equation further. 

He and former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, a Ruto ally, want to recapture the seat. Mr Waititu wrestled the seat from Mr Kabogo in 2017, garnering 716,336 votes against the latter’s 192,045.

Mr Kabogo blamed the DP for his 2017 Jubilee nominations and Kiambu governor position losses. 

He now finds himself in the same camp with Dr Ruto. The DP is in delicate position on who to back for the Kiambu governor seat. 

Several politicians in Mt Kenya are also planning to join the Ruto brigade using the ANC route, complicating the DP’s mathematics in the region.

Joint nominations

Ford-Kenya Secretary-General and Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa and UDA hopefuls Korir Singoei and Kakai Bissau are eyeing the Trans Nzoia governor position. 

Dr Wamalwa said a technical team would be constituted to look into ways of identifying the most suitable candidate, adding that it could be through consensus or joint nominations.

“Scientific research will give us the way forward,” the Kiminini lawmaker said. 

Bomet Senator Christopher Langat told the Saturday Nation that there is a likelihood of joint nominations in areas it can work while negotiations would be used in other regions.

“We have agreed to harmonise the process through negotiations. Negotiations will be applied in regions we feel competition may not favour us. Our objective is putting Kenya first. Some people will need to shelve their ambitions for the sake of the country,” Dr Langat said.

Another problematic county is Bungoma, which is perceived as Senator Wetang’ula’s stronghold. 

Bungoma Deputy Governor Charles Ngome joined UDA to unseat the Ford Kenya boss.

The two are now in one political movement, complicating the equation.

“I am focused on becoming the second senator of Bungoma,” Prof Ngome said recently. 

“We are determined to trounce Mr Wetang’ula and other opponents on August 9.”

Nominations debate

In the same Bungoma county, Mr Zachary Barasa of UDA wants to unseat Governor Wycliffe Wangamati. 
Former Governor and Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka wants to recapture the seat he lost to Mr Wangamati in 2017.

Mr Wangamati was elected on a Ford-Kenya ticket but joined the splinter group of Mr Wamunyinyi and Mr Simiyu to form DAP Kenya.

Mr Lusaka has not made public the party he will use in his attempt to win the contest. 

Murang’a Senator Irung’u Kangata yesterday said the UDA-ANC-Ford Kenya alliance has improved Dr Ruto’s chances of becoming Kenya’s fifth president. 

He added that the coalition,  whose structures have not been established, would win most elective seats in the Rift Valley and Western.

Mr Kang’ata refused to be drawn into the nominations debate. 

“We shall cross the bridge once we reach the river. It is too early to make this judgment. It is clear an alliance between UDA, Ford Kenya and ANC can win with a landslide in Nairobi, Trans Nzoia and Kakamega counties. The Mt Kenya bloc combined with Western is lethal in Nairobi,” Senator Kang’ata said.

His Nandi colleagues Samson Cherargei described the alliance is a political juggernaut. 

“Let us wait for the finer details on the engagement. We will give the country full disclosure on the partnership in the coming few months,” the Nandi senator told the Saturday Nation

Additional reporting by Benson Amadala and Shaban Makokha