President William Ruto has called a meeting of all elected and appointed leaders of his UDA party amid infighting in his government.
UDA Secretary-General Cleophas Malala has issued a notice of a meeting of the National Governing Council (NGC)—a top party organ—to be held next Friday at the Bomas of Kenya. The notice lists a presidential address and party grassroots elections as the main agenda of the meeting.
The meeting comes at a time when some senior members of the ruling party have called for a Cabinet reshuffle due to the high cost of living, exacerbated by rising fuel prices and the weakening Kenyan shilling and arrogance by government officials.
Several Cabinet secretaries have become targets of senior UDA MPs in recent weeks as they are accused of poor performance.
CSs Moses Kuria (Trade), Ababu Namwamba (Sports), Davis Chirchir (Energy) and Economic Advisor to the President David Ndii are some of the top members of the government who have been publicly attacked by the President’s close allies in Parliament.
The NGC is made up of the National Executive Committee, all the party’s elected governors, senators and members of the National Assembly, county party chairpersons and whips, as well as the secretary, treasurer and organising secretary of each county.
“Pursuant to and in accordance with Articles 7, 8.1(vi) (ix) and 24.5 (ii) of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), the Secretary-General, at the request and with the consent of the party leader, President William Ruto, now and hereby convenes the National Governing Council to be held at the Bomas of Kenya on September 29, 2023 at 9am,” Mr Malala stated in the notice dated September 15.
The notice comes just two days after a tough-talking President held a late-night meeting with interim party officials. At the meeting, Dr Ruto announced that all interim officials would face elections in December, except for himself and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua.
In February, President Ruto picked Mr Malala as the interim secretary-general, Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire the chairperson and East African Legislative Assembly MP Hassan Omar the deputy chairperson. Others serving on an interim basis are Kitutu Chache MP Japheth Nyakundi (treasurer) and Mwala MP Vincent Musyoka (organising secretary).
Some of the party’s top officials have been accused of antagonising regional offices and its affiliates in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance. A majority of party’s affiliates have rejected a push for a merger to form a political juggernaut for the purpose of Dr Ruto’s re-election in 2027.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa did not mince his words when he accused Mr Malala of antagonising party members. He also accused other officials of mismanaging the affairs of the party.
“The people who hold these positions were never elected by party members. I can tell you that we have problems with some of them. It is disrespectful for the secretary-general to call some of our partners village parties,” Mr Barasa said.
“When he (Malala) went to Mombasa, there was chaos because he decided to side with one of the camps. So many members are worried about his involvement in the upcoming party elections,” he added.
Belgut MP Nelson Koech said the party elections were part of President Ruto’s agenda to create a political behemoth ahead of 2027. He expressed optimism that the elections will pave the way for the dissolution of Kenya Kwanza affiliates to join UDA.
“The President’s visit to the UDA offices should tell you that he intends to take personal responsibility for the leadership of the UDA,” Mr Koech said.
He added: “It is only by having party leaders who are the expression of the will of the people they represent that we can hope to have a ruling party that has the moral standing to exercise its mandate as provided for in the constitution.”
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, EALA MP David Sankok and Nyaribari Chache MP Zaheer Jhanda said the President had made it clear that UDA members would elect party officials.
“The President has confirmed that apart from his position and that of his deputy, the rest will be open for election. The President wants the party to run smoothly and he will be hands-on in this exercise,” said Mr Cherargei.
Mr Jhanda said: “Democracy must prevail. They will fight it out with others who are interested and the winner will stay. We are a national party and we need to strengthen our grassroots support base and allow people to participate without any party influence”.
Mr Sankok echoed the sentiments, saying that the people must own the party by electing officials in a free and fair manner.
“We want to achieve what we could not achieve in the Jubilee Party. The plan is to strengthen the UDA from the grassroots,” he said.