A bitter war has erupted among William Ruto’s allies over the sharing of top party positions in his United Democratic Alliance. Already, the decision to pick former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama the party chairman has not been received well in certain quarters who claim he is a Jonny-come-lately together with former Kakamega senator Bonnie Khalalwe.
The majority of those opposed to Muthama and Khalwale together with former Mombasa senator Omar Hassan say the three lost in 2017 elections and have come to pitch tent in UDA for political survival sidelining those who have stood with Ruto. All is not well in the party even after it was unveiled in a high-profile event last week. Party supporters are now jostling for leadership positions so that in the event Ruto becomes president after the 2022 general elections, they will get plum jobs. Others are fighting to have the positions so as to get direct nominations during the party primaries in the run-up to next year’s general elections. In DP Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard, a war has erupted among senators and MPs who want to get strategic positions in the party.
Elgeyo Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen wants the seat of secretary-general much to the chagrin of Soy MP Caleb Kositany. It is being argued that since DP Ruto is a Nandi, Kositany should let the party secretary-general slot should go to the Marakwet. Kositany, a Nandi, was Jubilee party deputy secretary-general and it is said the Soy MP understands the rules of the trade. And politicians from the South Rift led by Kericho senator Aaron Cheruiyot also want a top party position.
We have the Kikuyu politicians in the party saying Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, Nakuru senator Susan Kihika and Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri have already hijacked UDA and are now sidelining other parties that are set to join UDA in a mega alliance. Former cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has The Service Party and Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria has the People’s Empowerment Party. The two leaders are said to have been sidelined in the party affairs and have left their options open despite the fact that DP Ruto needs them most. The two parties are set to merge with UDA and the two leaders are an asset to the party.
Kuria presence at the burial ceremony of Hannah Atsianzale Mudavadi, the mother of ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi, speaks volumes. The fiery Gatundu South MP was seen seated behind Baringo senator Gideon Moi in a rare gesture that points at a shift of alliance due to frustration already being witnessed in UDA. In Mt Kenya East politicians in the party led by Tharaka Nithi senator Kithure Kindiki, who is perceived as DP Ruto’s running mate in the 2022 general election have also been sidelined from the party affairs. The party seems to have taken off from the wrong footing since to attract the Mt Kenya East voting bloc that is steadfast in Jubilee is to get a running mate from the region and also dish out top party positions.
In the Coast region, Kwale MP Salim Mvurya is under siege from Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa jostling for top party positions although the Mijikenda have Kadu Asili, which is likely to form an alliance with UDA. Jumwa wants the position of party treasurer, the same is with Governor Mvurya. Due to the infighting, the Coast region has been divided into the Mijikenda and Arab worlds. Among the Arabs from the region fighting to have a piece of the cake is Omar Hassan and Nyali MP Mohammed Ali, popularly known as Jicho Pevu. Among the Maasai, Narok governor Samuel Tunai has locked horns with Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito over UDA party positions.
In the showdown, governor Tunai claims to be the seniormost political leader from the community and a fallout is now looming. The western region has its own share of trouble. UDA MPs have accused Khalwale of sidelining them in party affairs. Led by Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa and his Bumula counterpart Mwambu Mabonga, they allege Khalwale is leading the DP Ruto camp with an iron fist. The former Kakamega senator is said to have gone against the wishes of the MPs to give party clearance to unpopular people to gun for the Matungu and Kabuchai by-elections. The party is likely to suffer a humiliating defeat in the two by-elections.
Former Kenya Revenue Authority board member Evans Kakai will fly the wheelbarrow party ticket in the Kabuchai constituency seat while Alex Lanya will run for the Matungu parliamentary seat. Khalwale wants the post of deputy chairman in a wider scheme that has not gone down well with Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali. Malava MP Malulu Injendi and his Sirisia counterpart John Waluke among other politicians from Western region claim Khalwale has pitched tent at DP Ruto’s home, both at Sugoi and Nairobi, and that he collects hand-outs on their behalf but they do not get anything.
Washiali has been crying foul that Khalwale will be personally responsible for the loss of the party candidates in the coming by-elections. The Mumias East MP claims Khalwale is a stranger in the party. In North Eastern, it is not known which seat Garissa Town MP Aden Duale will get but a source confided that there is infighting among UDA politicians trying to give him a peripheral role in the party. According to well-placed sources, DP allies are not comfortable with the party chairman, Muthama, in what they claim the former senator’s high-handedness, arrogance and boastfulness.
Former Tangatanga group are not happy with Muthama, whom they say is proud. According to Barasa, the party should put its structures the soonest possible in order to avert a possible fallout sprouting up of the growing. During the unveiling of UDA, Muthama is said to have boasted that he single-handedly sponsored the event and that he has what it takes to steer the party to greater lengths without some of the Ruto allies. The UDA supporters have also accused Khalwale, a Ruto strategist, of being malicious following the nomination of party flagbearers in various by-elections across the country.
They fear Khalwale, who is likely to be a director of elections in the party, is partisan and is blocking party supporters from accessing DP Ruto. The party will sponsor candidates for MP in Kabuchai and Matungu, and for the senate seat in Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s Machakos bedroom. Former Machakos deputy governor Bernard Kiala, a close ally of Muthama, will fly the UDA flag. Former assistant minister Margaret Wanjiru will fly the UDA party ticket in the Nairobi gubernatorial by-election, Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town), Rachel Nyamai (Kitui South) and Nimrod Mbai (Kitui East) have also accused Muthama of belittling them and not involving them, as lawmakers, in party matters.
The nomination of the candidates is alleged to have been skewed and that most aspirants for the various seats are not at home with the party decision for the process was not free and fair. DP’s allies have exited from the ruling party, Jubilee to UDA, in what Senator Kihika described as a political machine that transcends regions. The disquiet is growing among the DP’s allies who are also uncomfortable with Senator Murkomen following his chest thumbing and outbursts that have left many shudder at the thought of the party forming the government. After the Msambweni win, Ruto appears to have found new admirers.
Nominated senator Isaac Mwaura decamped from Uhuru Kenyatta’s side and joined Ruto’s. Speaking while issuing the aspirants with certificates at the Hustler Centre in Nairobi, Muthama said they had settled on the candidates after a series of consultative meetings. Recently, Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu certified the name change and registration UDA, formerly Party of Development and Reform. In her letter, Nderitu states: “The registrar of political parties takes note of the decision taken by your party and the changes effected on January 7 2021 upon the expiry of the statutory period in line with Section 20(3A) of the PPA.”
In a letter to PDR secretary-general, it emerged, her office had received submissions from Khalid Njiraini Tianga who objected to the use of UDA but later withdrew the reservations. PDR had issued a public notice of intention to change its name to UDA and its symbol to a wheelbarrow. UDA registered offices are at Kilimani’s Makindi Road called Hustlers Centre.