Zoning headache for Raila, Ruto in nominations 

William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto addresses wananchi at Giampampo Primary School in Tharaka Nithi County during a Kenya Kwanza Alliance campaign rally on March 12, 2022.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mr Odinga recently said there will be no joint nominations in Azimio la Umoja.
  • In Kenya Kwanza Alliance, Musalia and Wetang’ula’s Ford-Kenya prefer zoning. 

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga and Kenya Kwanza Alliance chief William Ruto face a nominations headache as they seek to glue together all their coalition partners ahead of the primaries.

Most political leaders are in a dilemma as they are yet to decide on whether or not to zone different regions to avert possible fallouts as they craft alliances for the August polls.

While Mr Odinga recently said there will be no joint nominations in Azimio la Umoja, meaning all the 24 parties shall conduct their own primaries, they risk losing seats to rivals that will embrace zoning.

“Azimio has many political parties. You will have a free hand to choose your leaders,” he said in Wajir. 

Zoning allows parties that are dominant in certain regions to field candidates without competition from others in the same coalition.

Jubilee secretary-general Jeremiah Kioni, however, recently said his party would embrace zoning and mapping. “Zoning is normal in politics. For example, why would Cyrus Jirongo’s United Democratic Party (UDP) field a candidate in Othaya? Zoning/mapping is a reality of the political environment of the day,” he said.

Jubilee deputy secretary-general Joshua Kutuny (Cherang’any MP) contradicted Mr Kioni, saying the party is still debating on whether or not to embrace zoning as it might lead to a fallout. 

Handpicking candidates

“The biggest issue with zoning is that some leaders might feel sidelined. It is one of the easiest ways of securing winning but it has its own consequences. It is still under discussion. It is one of the many options we have on the table,” he said.

DAP-K deputy party leader Ayub Savula (Lugari) said zoning would destroy the Azimio la Umoja coalition. “As DAP-K, we are opposed to zoning. Let each party field its candidate. Let voters decide the fate of aspirants instead of killing their ambitions by party arrangements,” he said.

In Kenya Kwanza Alliance, Amani National Congress led by Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford-Kenya prefer zoning. 

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, a Ruto ally, said zoning encourages laziness in a party and kills political careers. He said that in case UDA gives in to ANC and Ford-Kenya demands, he would run as an independent instead of being locked out of the race.

“If you have developed a team of strong aspirants, they will win regardless of the party. I do not advocate for zoning. Those pushing for zoning want to kill the political careers of others,” said Mr Barasa.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata said zoning stifles democracy because it encourages handpicking of candidates against the will of voters.

Trouble with zoning

“It is undemocratic and unfair to candidates. The more the competition, the better for democracy. The process of zoning entails handpicking candidates in an opaque and unfair manner. As Chairman Mao Tse-tung used to say in China, ‘Let 100 flowers bloom’,” he said.

ANC secretary-general Simon Kamau Gikuru said the trouble with zoning is that it is likely to kill most parties because they will not have strength hence it would be prudent if aspirants are allowed to compete with each other even under the coalition umbrella.

“It is important for all our supporters and aspirants to note that by joining the alliance, we do not intend in any way to kill our parties. We want to strengthen them,” he said.

UDA chairman Johnstone Muthama said they will field aspirants in all regions. “We are going to have candidates in every elective position. The interest of ANC, UDA and Ford-Kenya is to front a united team to face our competitors. We are not going to allow segregation of parties,” he said.

Political analyst Herman Manyora said zoning can hold coalitions together but party interests would make it difficult to implement. 

“Even in cases where it is so obvious that zoning will be the right thing to do, there are people who will still complain. To decide on where it should be adopted won’t be easy. For example, if leave Ukambani region for Wiper candidates, other parties will complain,” he said.

In Western, do you give Kakamega to DAP-K or ODM?” Mr Manyora posed. “You will expect Trans Nzoia County to be given to DAP-K but let’s go to Saboti Constituency, where the MP is an ODM member. It becomes tricky,” he added.

He noted that it would be difficult to ask some politicians to sacrifice their interests for their colleagues in the name of zoning. 

“Don’t expect politicians to make sacrifices; that’s day dreaming. Sometimes the party might have no problem with zoning but strong candidates will not concede to such arrangements,” said Mr Manyora.


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