What you need to know:
- Alfred Mutua’s dramatic exit from Azimio was followed by Amason Kingi’s.
- There were indications that Kivutha Kibwana, too, was jittery in the Odinga camp.
Deputy President William Ruto reaped from the fallout in the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party that is led by Raila Odinga as he signed up two parties hours to a crucial electoral deadline.
With the deadline for his Kenya Kwanza Alliance to submit its pre-election coalition agreement to the Registrar of Political Parties lapsing yesterday, Dr Ruto welcomed governors Alfred Mutua and Amason Kingi to his camp.
Dr Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap (MCC) and Mr Kingi’s Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) quit Azimio citing secrecy on the agreement they had signed committing to back Mr Odinga’s presidential bid. The two parties have filed applications with the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal seeking to exit the Azimio.
MCC and PAA join 12 other parties under Kenya Kwanza, including the coalition’s founding parties, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Ford Kenya and Amani National Congress (ANC).
Yesterday, Dr Mutua said his party was driven out of Azimio mainly because of the zoning strategy being fronted by the coalition party, and being sidelined in decision-making by the big parties in the outfit.
Without giving names, Dr Mutua said five parties will join him in the DP’s Kenya Kwanza train.
“I can assure you that five other parties are on their way out and from today and tomorrow you will see the parties leaving Azimio, but I can’t reveal the names as I will be jumping the gun because each party has its own structure of doing things,” he said.
Last month, eight parties under the banner of Mwanzo Mpya Caucus, including MCC, Muungano Party, Kenya Reform Party, Chama Cha Uzalendo, Democratic Action Party-Kenya (DAP-K), PPT and Maendeleo Democratic Party raised concerns over the planned zoning. They also protested that only Jubilee, ODM and Wiper were represented in the outfit’s top decision-making organs leaving out other member parties.
Dr Mutua accused Azimio of sneaking a zoning document into the earlier pact they had signed and that they had refused to make the document available for scrutiny despite five demand letters.
He added that they had also since been excluded from the Azimio line-ups, campaign programmes and funding and they were not being told what their post-poll roles will be.
“Zoning is the main reason, and you heard Raila Odinga the other day talking of zoning. This is going back to factory settings. They want to zone us out, yet MCC is a growing party and the zoning will make it hard for us to achieve that dream,” Dr Mutua said.
The second-term governor said he couldn’t allow his party to go through zoning yet they had bagged a governor post, deputy governor, four MPs and about 40 MCAs countrywide in the 2017 General Election.
“It’s quite unfortunate that Azimio has become a club for the few as others stare through the window as they eat. We’ve been sidelined during decisions. Raila only called for a meeting to placate us but nothing changed,” Dr Mutua said.
‘No one can be forced’
He also exuded confidence that he won’t be forced back into Azimio.
“According to the Constitution, no one can be forced to be in an association they don’t want to be in. Even denying us the document we signed is reason enough to leave,” said the outgoing Machakos governor.
Dr Mutua, who has in the past attacked DP Ruto branding him unfit to govern, said he is now where his party is needed and respected, promising to drum up support for the DP in his quest to succeed President Kenyatta.
“It’s clear that Kenya is ready for change and not one that comes from the top but one that rises with the masses from the bottom. Therefore, we’re convinced the best team to transform Kenya is Kenya Kwanza and the best leader to free us from the yoke of poverty is one Dr William Ruto,” he said.
“I’ve been one of the biggest critics of DP Ruto but you can be well assured that the Ruto you knew will not be the same now that he is with Mutua. Your fears are now allayed... I’ll make sure he doesn’t do any wrong,” he said.
PAA spokesperson Lucas Maitha said the party will ink the deal with Kenya Kwanza as he accused Azimio of lacking good faith.
“Kenya Kwanza told us: ‘If you’ve moved out from Azimio la Umoja and are frustrated, why don’t we discuss?’ We did exactly that and they assured us that they were ready to incorporate our demands in the future government,” Mr Maitha said.
“We’re not in Azimio la Umoja anymore. We wish them well, and we know that Mr Odinga meant well. But there is a lot of confusion in the coalition today. Nobody knows who is calling the shots in Azimio. I can even predict that even if they win, that government would be problematic because there is backstabbing.
“Jubilee wants to be powerful as it exits, ODM wants to come in because they feel the president is theirs, and Wiper feels they can’t be ignored, while we and others are just bystanders. Not fair,” Mr Maitha said.
The DP celebrated the move by MCC and PAA and accused Azimio of deceit and betrayal.
“The people of Kenya have rejected blackmail, deceit and conmanship in our politics. Those who’ve taken our country hostage using patronage, force and impunity watajua hawajui na Wakenya hawapangwingwi (they’re in for a rude shock as Kenyans cannot be coerced). Together, we stand against strong arm machinations by the oppressors and political racketeers who’ve exploited us for long,” he said.
Yesterday, Azimio suggested that power struggles, constant demands for inclusion into the council (the coalition’s top decision-making organ), an assurance on amnesty over alleged graft cases and push for financial gain were among the issues that could have led to the exit of Dr Mutua and Mr Kingi from the outfit.
Azimio Executive Director Raphael Tuju said Dr Mutua was lying by claiming he wasn’t privy to the Azimio agreement contents, which, he said, were public and available at the Registrar of Political Parties.
“Before everybody signed the document, they all had the opportunity to look at it and they signed what they had looked at. If anybody signs what they have not looked at then they’re crazy and should have themselves to blame,” Mr Tuju said.
He pointed out that some of the people who are complaining about the document have been negotiating with DP Ruto’s side “and they needed this document for purposes of benchmarking for their negotiations and since we knew it, there was no need for us to contend with that...
“We’re not going to engage ourselves in that drama,” he said, adding that Azimio will not fight the parties’ decision to leave.
“If you insist on staying with somebody who does not want to live with you, they are more likely to create more problems within that marriage and it could even become abusive and the damage is more when you force somebody who does not want to stay in the marriage,” he said.
He pointed out that, “from the intelligence we have, some of them had even claimed that they wanted more seats or a seat in the council and, for example, Charity Ngilu agreed to step down for them, and then they moved the goal post.
“So if somebody is determined to leave, for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter what you do, if they want to leave, they will leave,” Mr Tuju added.
A source within Azimio claimed Dr Mutua had sought for “maintenance fee and also amnesty for alleged graft”.
But Dr Mutua dismissed the allegations.
“They’re trying to fight me because of my stand. Like their plans of exclusion, they will fail,” he said.
Dr Mutua has in the past not hid his disdain for DP Ruto, whom he sensationally accused in 2019 of threatening him. He said the DP squeezed his hand when he greeted him after he had called for a lifestyle audit as well as his assertion that the corrupt are not fit to be in office.
“I am disturbed by the threats and I believe that Ruto is capable of carrying out the threats,” the governor said then. In February this year, he accused the DP of being disloyal to President Kenyatta and disrespecting the office of the Deputy President.
Reporting by Collins Omulo, Justus Ochieng and Maureen Ongala