Merger plans for Jubilee Coalition parties neared takeoff point last week when Uhuru Kenyatta was handed a report on the proposed Jubilee Party which is to be launched in September. But it is the mindbogglingly staggering amount set aside for the new party launch that has tongues wagging ceaselessly.
A whopping Sh3 Billion will reportedly be spend on the ceremony and immediate aftermath for publicity to ensure that every Kenyan even the one who lives under a rock gets to hear about Jubilee Party. It is part of a mind wargame by Uhuru and William Ruto on Raila Odinga and other would-be opposition presidential candidates, and their supporters, that the race ahead will for them be lost before the startgun.
According to sources well-versed with the details of the launch and the budgetary provisions for the activities, it will be the most expensive political party launch-cum-conference in Kenya’s political campaign history. A successful launch means approaching the next polls on sure footing and effective marketing of the party hence Uhuruto are not leaving anything to chance. It will scare stiff Raila, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula, Peter Kenneth and Martha Karua.
The Sh3 billion launch is already providing a lot of eye-popping statistics about the ballooning spending Jubilee candidates will do in the next elections which according to analysts, is also meant to show politicians in the opposition against flying opposition flags. Two Luo MPs, James Rege of Karachuonyo, Ken Obura, Kisumu Central and Dalmas Otieno, Rongo have been invited to grace the occasion.
Aware that expenditure by parties and candidates is restricted during a general election campaign period; Jubilee leadership has opted to carry out one of the most expensive launches knowing that the law cannot catch up with them since the campaign period is not yet declared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. Any expenditure now and source of funding is not a matter the IEBC can query.
It is, however, not known the source of the funding for the launch but impeccable sources say most of the budget will be funded by Uhuru and partially by Ruto while others are Jubilee allied politicians, Kikuyu and Kalenjin tycoons, as well as, some friendly foreign donors, individuals and non-governmental organisations. Thousands of T-shirts, caps, lessos, scarves, badges and other promotional materials are to be printed in China according to sources. The Kikuyu tycoons are said to be meeting in order to raise Sh1 billion. They include Chris Kirubi, Peter Munga, James Mwangi, Stanley Githunguri who although on his sickbed pulls the drawer liberally and SK Macharia among others. Macharia is out to mend fences with his kinspeople after supporting Raila against Uhuru in the 2013 general elections.
State-of-art public address systems are to be hired with entertainment groups from each of the 42 Kenyan tribes having an opportunity to perform. The Asian community has not been left behind either. The community’s vote and cash bloc is being targeted. Hiring branded trucks for road shows has started.
Recently, Ruto was in China on a fact finding mission. Unconfirmed reports say, Chinese businessmen have been brought on board together with Asian tycoons in Kenya led by one Kaushik Parber of Kwale Sugar Factory, an ally of Ruto and the Kisumu based Kotecha family. To begin with, the party has set aside a huge budget running into tens of millions for marketing. They want the new logo to sink among its bedrock supporters in Rift Valley, Central and North Eastern. Sources say Jubilee schemers want to use the launch which will come 11 months to supposed election date as the start of Uhuru re-election and succession.
More millions have also been set aside for media to have the event given live coverage by all TV stations in the country and prime slot advertisement. More funds have also been allocated for internet as well as running text commentary on Facebook and Twitter. Sources say the event will be graced by representatives from friendly political parties from Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Burundi all at the expense of Jubilee which includes air tickets and accommodation.
Apart from the foreign dignitaries expected to grace the occasion, the Jubilee coalition has also set a budget that will cater for transport, food and accommodation as well as allowances of Jubilee allied political parties’ top officials and their national executive committee members who will be part of the team. Also in the budget is the printing of promotional materials such as banners, placards, portraits of the new party symbol and colours among others. These materials will be distributed across the country. Jubilee has also set aside funds that will see them hire choppers that will fly with the new party colours at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani. The 60,000 capacity seater stadium will be fully filled with all the 47 counties allocated space. Each county will have a special label banner and T-Shirts to show the new Jubilee is national and not regional.
Already, a list of delegates and invited guests is being prepared and all of whom are entitled to allowances to take care of their transport and hotel accommodation for the days of the conference. Funds have also been allocated to MPs, governors, senators and MCAs to lobby and to create awareness of the new party and more so, to mobilise and to involve the public to support the new party.
Funds have also been allocated to print media to run adverts for the party and printing of leaflets to be distributed countrywide explaining party policy and manifesto, nomination rules, colours and party symbol. We also have information that a big chunk of the budget apart from being allocated for the launch in a colourful manner, tens of millions have also been set aside to cater for the a national delegates’ conference of all the affiliate parties to ratify their dissolutions.
It is said all the 13 affiliate parties whose leaders have agreed to dissolve will receive huge allocations to hold a delegates conference to ratify the dissolution of their parties. However, the idea of funding the affiliate parties national delegates conference has not been fully agreed on as the interim committee members felt some of the affiliate parties are briefcase parties with no offices and no registered branch officials and so they do not have delegates to ratify the dissolution of the party.
It is also feared that such parties could use fake and paid up people to masquerade as delegates and to pocket the millions already allocated to finance the affiliate party’s delegates’ conference. Although the date of the launch is yet to be given, it is all systems go for Jubilee as Uhuru and Ruto have been handed the instruments of the merger plan. Among the documents the interim committee responsible for laying down the foundations for the new party presented to Uhuru and Ruto includes the party’s interim constitution, its nomination and election rules, and a members’ handbook.
Already, 13 parties have agreed to dissolve to join the new party. Sources say two parties namely, Kanu and Ford-People have made it clear that they can only join the party as corporate members and that they are not ready to dissolve.
But even as Uhuru and Ruto received the new party’s instruments from the co-chairs – Noah Wekesa and Kiraitu Murungi – a political party has written to the Registrar of the Political Parties objecting the registration of the Jubilee Party. In a letter, Ashford Mugwuku who is the secretary general of the Jubilee People’s Party of Kenya said he is opposed to the registration of any other party bearing the name ‘Jubilee’ as it resembles his party’s name.
The letter reads in part: “We wish to strongly object to the registration of any party bearing the name Jubilee or such other names that so nearly resemble Jubilee and our party symbol open handcuffs and abbreviation JPP,JPK,JP,JAP under section 8 of the Political parties Act,” reads part of the letter.
He said he had registered a party known as Jubilee Peoples Party of Kenya (JPP) and registration of another party with the Jubilee name will be against the law. The letter further reads: “Take further notice that in default of the compliance, our political party will proceed to institute legal proceedings to enforce compliance,” read another section of the letter. The big headache for Uhuru and Ruto now is how to share the national party slots among the affiliate parties. Although the interim committee had proposed that the positions be allocated according to the parties numerical strength in the senate, national assembly and the county assembly, the smaller parties are said to have opposed this proposal and left it to Uhuru and Ruto to hand-pick the interim officials.