Why President Ruto may push UDA elections to a later date

President William Ruto

President William Ruto addresses delegates during the UDA National Governing Council meeting at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi on September 29, 2023. 

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Uncertainty surrounding the exercise was raised during the recent retreat in Naivasha.
  • UDA had initially planned to hold the elections on December 9 but moved the date to April.

Confusion has marred President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) planned party elections less than a month to the new dates set following last year’s postponement.

Party members are said to have raised concerns over lack of preparations, including procurement of poll materials and registering of new members, with some officials hinting to the Sunday Nation that the exercise could be deferred again.

It has emerged that the party is yet to procure tablets for digital voting.

The uncertainty surrounding the exercise was raised during the recent retreat in Naivasha, Nakuru County, where the party leadership reportedly told lawmakers that they would be called for a Parliamentary Group meeting at State House for an update.

An official told the Sunday Nation that two planned meetings in February on deciding on whether to postpone or go on with the exercise aborted, leaving the matter in abeyance.

The delayed decision by some Kenya Kwanza affiliate parties to fold and join UDA – particularly Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress (ANC) – has also been cited as reason for the confusion.

Mr Mudavadi quit as party leader before his vetting for the cabinet slot, with Lamu Governor Issa Timamy picked in an acting capacity. 

ANC is reported to have demanded the secretary-general position before agreeing to fold.

UDA had initially planned to hold the elections on December 9 but moved the date to April following a November 18 meeting that was chaired by Dr Ruto.

President William Ruto

President William Ruto (right), Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at the Bomas of Kenya during the UDA National Governing Council meeting on September 29, 2023.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

“UDA wishes to notify members and aspirants that the grassroots elections scheduled for December 9, 2023 have been postponed,” the party said then. 

“The elections will be staggered into three clusters, taking place on April 12, 19 and 26, 2024. A detailed schedule outlining county clusters will be released in due course.”

UDA Secretary-General, Cleophas Malala, on Saturday, failed to respond to our queries on the elections.

Organising Secretary Vincent Musyoka Musau admitted that the party has not procured tablets for the elections, adding that a meeting would be called to make a decision.

The Mwala MP said the elections would rather be postponed instead of going ahead without a proper electoral infrastructure.

“Our election is to be purely digital. What has delayed the preparations are the gadgets. It is not that easy to have the kits as we had envisioned,” Mr Musau said, adding that the party would give an update on whether the elections would be held next month.

The lawmaker said the party requires a huge infrastructure to run credible elections. He added that thousands of UDA members are expected to take part in the important exercise. 

Ten positions will be contested for at every polling centre. The 10 elected officials from every polling centre will proceed to elect officials at ward level. 

This will go on to the constituency, county and finally national level.

Elected leaders will automatically become part of the delegates at the ward for Members of the County Assembly, MP at the constituency and governor, senator and woman representative at the county level.

Mr Musau said the party plans another meeting that will be chaired by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua though he did not give a date. 

Two MPs contacted by the Sunday Nation said there are no activities on the ground in preparation for the elections.

The December 9 postponement was occasioned by a demand by Mt Kenya leaders to change the UDA constitution to provide for a single deputy party leader. They insisted the position must be reserved for Mr Gachagua.

The UDA constitution provides for two deputies, a provision some Mt Kenya leaders felt could be used to undermine Mr Gachagua.