UDA finally sets date for grassroots polls
President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party is gearing up for its grassroots polls which will be the first step towards merging all Kenya Kwanza affiliates into one political party.
The ruling party has set February 15, 2023, as the tentative date for its grassroots and party leadership elections, an exercise whose aim is to spread the party’s networks further across the country.
However, UDA chairman Johnson Muthama yesterday told the Nation that the February 15 date might be pushed forward by a week since government processes have taken longer than expected.
In October last year, the Head of State, who is the leader of the ruling party, instructed officials to roll out the party’s grassroots election across the country.
If it happens, that will be the first election for UDA which was formed in December 2020.
Yesterday, Jubilee Party Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni revealed that the former ruling party intends to embark on a countrywide grassroots recruitment exercise with the view of regrouping ahead of the 2027 General Election.
“Our focus is to strengthen our county, constituency and ward offices and recruit more members as we mould and nurture the next generation of Jubilee leaders,” said Mr Kioni in a press release.
The current UDA party officials were all appointed, and now the party leader wants them to seek members’ support in their quest to serve in the positions they presently hold.
Before the August General Election, UDA postponed its intention to conduct party elections across the country four times, saying that there was no need to rush while Kenyans were still registering as members.
The ruling party boasts 8.9 million registered members according to data on its website, which makes it the biggest party in the country, followed by Raila Odinga’s ODM which is now 17 years old. It also has 2,673 coordinators and 9,809 volunteers across the country.
According to Mr Muthama, all members of UDA who are interested in any party position will be allowed to vie, including elected leaders.
To qualify as a candidate, you must be a Kenyan and a registered member of the party. Other requirements are just formalities and that tells you that even elected officials who are interested will participate in the exercise because nothing is stopping them from doing so,” said Mr Muthama.
The UDA chairman says that although they are pursuing the one-party dream, the ruling party will not force its partners in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance (KKA) to fold and join UDA.
He says that immediately after the ruling party concludes its planned grassroots, UDA will embark on some serious negotiations with its partners on how to work together and build one strong party.
“Kenya Kwanza is a formation of many parties and it is our hope that we will continue working each but each and every party has its own house. We will engage in serious discussions and no party will be coerced or forced to dissolve and join UDA. In politics, things do change and I hope they will all change for us to one as one party to unite the country,” said Mr Muthama.
Kenya Kwanza now has 18 parties in its fold.
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.
Already it has emerged that 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.
But Democratic Party secretary-general Jacob Ali Haji told the Nation that the concept of having only one party in the Kenya Kwanza is what is scaring some of them and if UDA continues to bulldoze, their stay in the coalition will be untenable.
“Decisions are now being made by one party but when we signed the Kenya Kwanza agreement, we were equal partners who did everything together to help Ruto win. After the election, things have changed, how will the coalition work when there are no meetings, the coalition caucus has never been convened. UDA dominates everything, we’re very much disappointed with them and now they are talking about merging parties to have only UDA, this can never happen,” said Dr Haji.