Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) yesterday took a hard-line stance against fringe parties in the Kenya Kwanza Alliance complaining that they were being mistreated in the downstream contests.
UDA chairman Johnson Muthama told the Nation yesterday that affiliate parties fielding candidates against UDA at the parliamentary and county level should not expect any favours.
The Service Party (TSP) leader Mwangi Kiunjuri had said the previous day that unless Dr Ruto himself clarifies the matter, talk by any other leader in the alliance was inconsequential.
He accused Dr Ruto’s running mate Rigathi Gachagua of promoting the “six-piece” vote for UDA in Mt Kenya, to the detriment of candidates sponsored by other parties in the alliance.
Complained of discrimination
Aspirants from the other parties affiliated Kenya Kwanza, whose main parties are UDA, Musalia Mudavadi’s ANC and Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford Kenya, have complained of discrimination. They say they are not being allowed to address Dr Ruto’s campaign rallies in their constituencies unlike their UDA rivals.
Mr Muthama said that the agreement with parties in the alliance is based only on them supporting Dr Ruto’s State House bid.
“Our coalition is based on supporting the presidential candidate. It is not based on supporting each other’s candidates,” said Mr Muthama.
He said the parties are free to hold their rallies and use DP Ruto’s picture on their campaign posters, but should not expect UDA to withdraw support for its own candidates.
“We really do not want to confuse people by telling them not to elect the UDA candidates but elect another candidate. It does not work like that,” said Mr Muthama.
During the recent political tours, aspirants sponsored by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria’s Chama cha Kazi (CCK), TSP, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi’s Democratic Party and former Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera’s Farmers’ Party expressed frustrations after the UDA team campaigned for their candidates and denied others the opportunity to address the rallies.
“The UDA party is treating the rest of us in utter contempt. Just [when] we are sure that we have found the magic of cohesion, the UDA luminaries come out and poison the serenity with uncalled-for hostility against partners,” said Mr Nyakera.
Mr Kiunjuri, said it was unfair of Mr Gachagua to only endorse UDA candidates even after the affiliate parties withdrew their own presidential candidates to support Dr Ruto.
“A vibrant democracy is enriched by intra-competition within Kenya Kwanza and the rest of the competitors,” Mr Kiunjuri said on Tuesday.
But Mr Gachagua insists that it was foolhardy to ask him to campaign for candidates from any other party other than his own, UDA.
“You don’t come to a political rally organised by the United Democratic Alliance, where our aspirants have spent money to mobilise attendance, and expect to be embraced,” said the Mathira MP. “To the aspirants, know that politics is not a church or a wedding where all get free entry.”
Recently, UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina disclosed that the cooperation with other parties is aimed at achieving the presidential goal.
“UDA is strengthening itself as a party and that is the position as far as the issue of working with other political parties is concerned. We welcome the support they give us at the presidential level but for the purposes of the party, UDA continues to strengthen itself,” she said in an earlier interview.
At the same time, UDA has assured disgruntled parties in Kenya Kwanza that they will be treated equally.
Dr Ruto’s presidential campaign director-genera and, Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok yesterday asked the parties not to hesitate raising any issue they feel uncomfortable with.
Mr Nanok said the presidential campaign was ready to look at ways to solve the concerns raised by the parties, including joining the national campaigns team.
“I don’t not think there has been any discrimination at all. Every party in the alliance is free to join the rallies. You have even seen Moses Kuria of CCK participate and even address some of the rallies. There should be no cause for alarm,” he said.
The fringe parties are angered that while UDA conceded to their demands of no zoning in the country, especially in Mt Kenya, it had sneaked back the idea with the “six-piece” calls.
The parties also have to contend with a clause in the alliance’s agreement that the sharing of positions in government, were Dr Ruto to win, will be based on the number of seats won by individual parties.
Since Mr Gachagua was selected as DR Ruto’s running mate on May 15, he has come out forcefully in Mt Kenya counties to campaign against fringe parties.
Mr Nyakera, who is vying for Murang'a governor, said he and the Farmers Party fraternity took great exception “to the campaigns that UDA has launched in Mt Kenya advising its supporters to vote six-piece in favour of its aspirants".
Mr Nyakera warned UDA that it risked sabotaging Dr Ruto's chances of winning nationally if it continued with that line of campaigns.
In a protest letter to the UDA secretariat, Mr Nyakera said “the UDA party aspirants in their characteristic deficiency of civility are referring to fringe parties and their aspirants as tatters”.
Dr Ruto faces tough choices in Mt Kenya, with aspirants from as many as five affiliate parties contesting a single seat. In Kiambu, for example, Kimani Wamatangi (UDA) is competing against Mr Kuria of CCK and William Kabogo of Tujibebe Wakenya Party in the gubernatorial contest.
In Murang’a, Senator Irungu Kang'ata is contesting under UDA and is up against Joseph Wairagu (DP), Dr Mike Gatogo (ANC) and Mr Nyakera.
Mr Kuria said CCK will soldier on with the contest in all Mt Kenya competitive seats except for the presidency.
"We all have a common presidential candidate and all efforts should be concentrated there. Even we in the said fringe parties have our voices but we are not putting our tongues to bad use,” Mr Kuria said on Saturday last week.
Mr Kabogo also warned against “bad mouths that add no value to the collective goal ... we should all aspire to engage only in versions that make us more cohesive and more determined to achieve the ultimate goal – seizing state power”.
Mr Muturi said Dr Ruto is winning the national tally “and it is upon us to midwife that win in the perfect possible atmosphere of peace”.
Mr Muturi wondered why one would feel aggrieved in the alliance and after writing a letter to the administrative structures seeking redress, proceed to publicly issue ultimatums and threats.
Ms Maina admits that the toughest part of the talks in the alliance is on how UDA will relate with its affiliate parties in the governor, senator, woman rep, MP and ward rep seats.
“The complication is real and we have to make a decision. Our position is that UDA candidates will be Dr Ruto’s point men and will enjoy his direct support. That is the point at which we are trying to convince all those who share the common agenda of seeing Dr Ruto ascend to power,”she said.
Guard against sabotage
Mr Kang’ata explained that UDA’s insistence on vying for all seats is a precautionary measure to guard itself against sabotage by the deep state.
Political analyst Prof Ngugi noted: “We all know what happens when a contest is split into cubicles. If we have, say 10 candidates, in different camps but campaigning for a common presidential candidate, the common candidate will gain but lose the seat owing to disintegrated votes,” he said.
The best way to approach the issue, he said, is to come up with both pre- and post-election partnership pacts “because the two most important aspects of a contest are to first win, and then form a government that is stable”.
Additional reporting by Waikwa Maina and Mercy Simiyu