William Ruto and Musalia Mudavadi
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UDA, ANC merge as part of 2027 game plan

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President William Ruto and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi during a meeting at State House, Nairobi on June 19, 2024.

Photo credit: PCS

President William Ruto and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi have kicked off the process to seal the unity between their parties.

President Ruto and Mr Mudavadi solidified their union with a merger of the ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and Amani National Congress (ANC) party, effectively setting the pace for major shakeup in the country’s political landscape.

Mr Mudavadi who is the founder of ANC party had in April hinted at another wave of the “political earthquake,” akin to the one which marked his official entry into President Ruto’s political fold ahead of the August 9, 2022 elections.

He also suggested a fresh move that he said would help strengthen the President’s UDA party in preparations for 2027 polls.

“I want to make it clear and to other ANC supporters, although I may not be the official party leader today, but as a strong member of ANC party, I must tell you frankly our conversation must be serious about how to strengthen the Kenya Kwanza administration and how to work very closely with the UDA which is the principal party in the coalition and to even engage in deeper debates.

“Don’t ask me which deeper debates. That’s for another day. Another earthquake is in the offing,” Mr Mudavadi asserted in April.

And at a ceremony held at State House, Nairobi attended by officials of the two parties yesterday, marked the beginning of the legal journey to fold the ANC party and have its members join UDA. 

Although the officials described it as a ‘merger by amalgamation’, which means both parties folding to join a new outfit, Nation has established that UDA will largely retain its identity, with ANC being dissolved the same way National Development Party (NDP) of Raila Odinga was dissolved in the merger with Kanu in 2002.

ANC and UDA both agreed and resolved to form a joint implementation committee comprising of both political and legal minds to expedite the merger process.

The President also revealed that the discussion between him and the Prime Cabinet Secretary on the ANC and UDA merger started a long time ago with the aim of building a more cohesive and united Kenya.

Last year while addressing the UDA National Governing Council at Bomas of Kenya, President Ruto said he would be reaching out to the partner parties, stating that the outfit will find a way of working with those opposed to the merger plan.

“There is absolutely no reason for us to run two parallel parties that have the same thinking, the same mind, formation and orientation. It is natural that we bring these parties together in a merger so that our secretariat, executive and our party structures are merged to create the momentum of moving the country faster into the future,” President Ruto said.

He emphasized the need for a major political party, noting that “the energy we are spending in running two parties can be spent in the transformation of Kenya.”

“We are building a much stronger, solid democratic party that will help us democratize our politics and institutionalize our politics,” he said.

Mr Mudavadi pointed out that after a moment of meditation on the best place to direct ANC party to, he was satisfied that with president Ruto his members were on safe hands.

“This is the safe pair of hands that have been referred to by the party leader (Issa Timamy). The alternative would have been to be quiet and let you go in the wilderness but that would have been highly irresponsible of me,” the PCS said at the State House event.

He went on: “You can be penny wise but pound foolish. Let us be part of a bigger formation.”

Mr Mudavadi went further to give an assurance to the Head of State that henceforth after the legal mechanics have been exhausted, they will field candidates under the UDA umbrella.

“Do you think it would be wise to field a candidate against the person who Gazetted me as the Prime Cabinet Secretary?” posed Mr Mudavadi.

National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah who also attended the ceremony noted that having one unified, national party is what the country needs.

“This is what we need to bring our country together but also to solidify our vision as one people, one nation and one flag We have indeed found it very easy to work with ANC,” the Kikuyu MP said.

He said that UDA members “have all our hands open to welcome you to one bigger and stronger team, one stronger team for the sake of our country.”

“This merger is only natural because we have worked together with ANC members already in House leadership.”

President Ruto said that Kenyans do not want the politics of tribalism, hence the replacement for politics of tribalism is making sure “we consolidate the place of our political parties as the institutions of democratic governance.”

“You cannot have a democracy without solid political parties built not on the basis of personality cults or tribes but based on the solid basis of an agenda, vision and plan.

“ANC and UDA are parties that have so much that we share in common and it was not difficult for us to harmonize our manifestos because the things you believed in are the things we believed on.”

He said the UDA-ANC merger must be bottom up.

“We have to merge the grassroots, membership, structures and leadership all the way from the bottom to national leadership and we are ready for it because it is the right thing to do.

“A stronger party will help us deal with the challenge of ethnicity, create a bigger united, more representative formation that brings aspirations of Kenyans into an organisation that will help us drive Kenya into the future.”

He lauded Mr Mudavadi for making the right decision, saying that his members will not regret the move.

“The same way you made the best decision during earthquake at Bomas is the same way you are making a better decision today. It was difficult in Bomas, may be challenging today but it is easier for us to make this decision now because we have a history of what happened in Bomas.

“I am committed to making sure we change the politics of Kenya so that political parties into the future do not represent personalities, tribes. They should stand for a vision, have a manifesto and are identified by the clan and the vision they draft for the country,” said the President.

ANC party leader Mr Timamy allayed any fears among the party members, stating that all elected leaders and members would be cushioned from any legal implication.

“I understand that there are concerns and apprehension over the merger. Change is never easy, but we have to so that we manage the affairs of our people. This is merger by amalgamation. This is our preferred merger proposal.

By this our respective parties of UDA and ANC will form a new political party which we shall all join as members. This will offer a necessary legal cushion to our respective membership and critically to our current elected members of County Assembly and National Assembly,” said Mr Timamy, who is also the Lamu Governor.

According to the Registrar of Political Parties, a merger is the combination of two or more political parties into a single party - new or existing one (in this case UDA), after a party follows its constitution and procedures and makes the decision to merge.

The merger agreement is then signed and deposited with the Registrar within 21 days of the signing, causing the Registrar to withdraw and cancel the certificates of registration of the political parties that have merged and gazettes the dissolution of the merged parties within seven days.

A certificate of full registration is then issued if a new political party is formed and thus a member of the political party that has merged with another automatically becomes a member of the new outfit.

A member who is a President, Deputy President, Governor or Deputy Governor, MP or MCA, and does not want to be a member of the new political party after the merger will continue to serve in such elected office for the remainder of the term, and may join another political party or choose to be an independent member within 30 days of the registration of the new party.

After the merger, the particulars including the names, symbol, logo, slogan and colours of the parties are removed from the register of political parties and such names, symbols, logos, slogans and colours are not available for registration by any person as a political party in the subsequent election following the merger.

The records, assets and liabilities, rights and obligations of all the dissolved political parties will be the records, assets and liabilities, rights and obligations of the new political party including their entitlement to the Political Parties Fund.

Other parties among them National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya have not indicated their willingness to fold.

Apart from UDA, ANC and Ford Kenya, other affiliate parties in the ruling Kenya Kwanza alliance are Economic Freedom Party (EFP), Democratic Party, Chama Cha Kazi, Communist Party of Kenya, The Service Party of MP Mwangi Kiunjuri, Tujibebe Wakenya Party of former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, Farmers Party, Devolution Party of Kenya and Umoja na Maendeleo Party.

The move by Mr Mudavadi is likely to further feud between president Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua who was out of the country on Wednesday as the merger ceremony went on at State House, Nairobi.

Mr Gachagua had been dispatched by the president to South Africa to represent him at the swearing in of the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Even though Mr Gachagua succeeded in compelling UDA to have a single deputy party leader’s position, to avoid being at par with Mr Mudavadi in case of his entry which is now official, the formation of the two Assistant deputy party leader’s posts would still give the office holders impetus.

Political analyst Mr Martin Oloo argues that president Ruto knowing that Central Kenya may not vote for him to the last man in the 2027 election, he is squarely looking into Western and Nyanza regions to galvanize his support.

“By standing by Baba (Mr Odinga) and dispatching him to the AU, his chances in Nyanza will be okay,” Mr Oloo says.

He adds that by convincing Mr Mudavadi to fold his ANC party and the possibility of embracing the ‘Tawe Movement’ driven by Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya, the president would obviously get a good chunk of Western Kenya.

“Nyanza, Western and Rift Valley, as well as a charm offensive in Coast, Meru – where Governor Kawira Mwangaza has already joined the president’s UDA, Northern Kenya, in the same fort he can have the numbers to allow duel between Musalia and (Rigathi) Gachagua,” Mr Oloo argues.

He argues that Mr Mudavadi’s game plan has always been to “ride on the wings of those with national appeal and this explains the possibility of having his ANC party dissolved.”

Political analyst and governance expert Mr Javas Bigambo says Mr Mudavadi knows that it cannot benefit him to have ANC take on UDA headstrong, hence his decision to push for its dissolution. 

"His choices were known and were not many. He was either to fold ANC and secure a political home in UDA to demonstrate undivided attention, loyalty and support for President Ruto, a choice that is strategic for him personally in the Kenya Kwanza regime," Mr Bigambo says.

He argues that joining UDA, which technically, he says Mr Mudavadi has done, would pit him against DP Gachagua, who feels he co-owns it, and would make him a deputy party leader of equal optical rank.

Mr Bigambo said that would also mean that the succession battle after 2027 will be fierce and a game of knives but “in terms of controlling MPs, Gachagua will have an upper hand compared to Mudavadi."

For Mr Dismas Mokua, politics is the art of possible and all politicians have political ambitions.

“Musalia has demonstrated that he understands key variables that inform Kenya’s electoral outcomes. The earthquake moment that was a game changer in the 2022 presidential elections comes to mind.

“The probability that he is arranging his ducks in a row for a presidential run post President Ruto does exist,” Mr Mokua says.

Mr Oloo says that if Mr Mudavadi survives politics in UDA and is able to take on DP Gachagua who is now like his nemesis, by bringing in his party, that gives him a bit of a say because he is folding a party.

“Unlike the DP who was already in and thus does not have a bargaining power, Mudavadi will now have a bargaining power and obviously, it will plunge him in a bitter argument with Gachagua,” says Mr Oloo.

In terms of succession, he says, it’s Mr Mudavadi that DP Gachagua has a problem with.

“The President too will have to be conscious that the duel will benefit him. But is it the right time for those conversations to take place, the answer is yes, this is the time,” added Mr Oloo.