Which way Jubilee? Uhuru party seeks to chart path

Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni (centre) addresses journalists at the party’s headquarters

Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni (centre) addresses journalists at the party’s headquarters on April 6, 2022. 

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party is walking a tightrope amid an onslaught by President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) to capture its members even as officials insist the party remains tightly in the Raila Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has declared an invasion on the party, particularly targeting leaders from Mt Kenya region, in a campaign to rally them into the UDA fold.

The party now finds itself caught between President Ruto’s and Mr Odinga’s camps, putting ex-president Kenyatta, the Azimio coalition council chairman, in an awkward situation.

Mr Gachagua has already given a deadline of December 31, by which he plans to have rallied all Jubilee leaders from Mt Kenya into Kenya Kwanza, throwing Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta into a quandary.


“We will reach out to professionals, business people and politicians from Mt Kenya who had gone astray and joined Azimio. I have talked to many of them and they have told me they were intimidated and coerced into joining Azimio and are ready to return to the fold,” the DP said in Mathira on Sunday.

“The previous leader did not mentor our younger leaders and some of us who tried to raise our heads were met with harassment and intimidation. One of my roles now is to mentor young leaders, that is why you will be seeing me moving around accompanied by young politicians,” he added.

Mr Gachagua’s offensive, coupled with internal wrangles within Azimio pitting Jubilee against Mr Odinga’s ODM, Nation has learnt, has sent shockwaves in the Jubilee leadership, with officials holding a meeting on Tuesday to chart the way forward.

Raila Odinga

Azimio la Umoja Coalition leader Raila Odinga (standing) with elected leaders during a parliamentary group meeting at Stoni Athi Resort in Machakos.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

The meeting of Jubilee’s top decision-making organ and House leadership was aimed at taking stock of its performance in the last election and strategise for the future.

The party held a joint National Management Committee (NMC) meeting with its House leadership.

Sources at the meeting revealed that Mr Gachagua’s move was deliberated on as well as Jubilee’s place in Azimio.

Underlying issues

Jubilee Secretary-General Jeremiah Kioni and National Chairman Nelson Dzuya confirmed holding the meeting, noting that it was meant to try and iron out underlying issues to ensure the party remains united and focused on its opposition role.

“Of course we have had a question of what is our relationship with Azimio and the resolution was that we are in Azimio to stay and we must get to work within its frameworks, but our Azimio partners must respect us and give us what belongs to us; they should not take that which is ours,” Mr Kioni said.

He also rubbished claims by Mr Gachagua that the party was warming up to UDA, arguing that anything of the sort is only meant to ‘satisfy individual desires for survival and personal greed’.

“We, as a party, have had no official engagements with Kenya Kwanza or the Deputy President,” Mr Kioni said.

He said the Tuesday meeting deliberated on many issues, adding that Mr Gachagua’s plans do not ‘concern us’.

“We talked about many issues, but the crucial one is — how do we grow the Jubilee party given the issues that we have? We agreed to have other meetings, because, ideally we need to come up with programmes that we can do within Jubilee,” the official said.

Mr Dzuya said the main agenda was how to revamp the party.

Raila Odinga

Azimio coalition leader Raila Odinga (left) and Jubilee Party Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni in Nairobi on September 17, 2022.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

“We discussed how to rebuild our party and how we can best play our role as an opposition party,” he said.

Asked whether the party was reconsidering its stay in Azimio, Mr Dzuya said that was a discussion for another day.

“We are still in Azimio until such a point that we shall say our stay is no longer tenable and we will issue an official statement whether we will go ahead independently or remain in Azimio. For now, we are in Azimio,” added Mr Dzuya.

He affirmed the party’s commitment to continue working within the Azimio framework despite the recent squabbles.

Political debt

Mr Kioni had earlier claimed that the party had already paid its political debt to Mr Odinga after backing his presidential bid in the August 9 General Election and was now at ease to chart its own path, a move that did not go down well with Mr Odinga’s ODM allies. 

Yesterday, Mr Dzuya insisted that the Pangani meeting was mainly meant to discuss the way forward for Jubilee. Other Jubilee officials — Sabina Chege and Kanini Kega — refused to comment on the future of Jubilee and whether some individual members were in talks with Mr Gachagua.

The DP and Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga had taken credit for the election of Mr Kega to the East Africa Legislative Assembly (Eala), lifting the lid on their possible working arrangement that could culminate in some Jubilee members joining UDA.

Regarding the recent squabbles with ODM, Mr Kioni had argued that the Orange party ought to reciprocate the support they gave Mr Odinga in the last election, following his unsuccessful bid to secure a slot at Eala.

“We delivered 1.2 million votes. If you compare with what Raila had gotten there (in Mt Kenya) before, at least for those of us who were with them, they should show respect,” Mr Kioni said.

The former Ndaragwa MP, who lost in the last election, added: “The reason why I’m not in Bunge (Parliament) is having stuck with Jubilee and having supported Raila. The person you were loyal to should reciprocate.”

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, however, insists their agreement with Jubilee within the Azimio framework was that the Jubilee party would help get 40 per cent of the votes in Mt Kenya, which did not happen.

“If you look at the registered number of voters in Mt Kenya of about six million, that means that Jeremiah Kioni and his party was supposed to deliver 2.4 million votes.

“People from Mt Kenya were lying to Baba (Mr Odinga) about the actual situation on the ground. We were being told they would deliver 40 per cent when some of these people even knew they were going to lose themselves. So they should not tell us they are suffering because of Raila, they are suffering because they lied to Raila Odinga about the true situation on the ground in Mt Kenya,” Mr Sifuna said.