Kenya's Most Authoritative Political Newspaper

Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 26 October 2014

IS ONCE ROBUST KIBAKI LED PNU ON DEATH BED?

Reports that the last vehicle used by retired President Mwai Kibaki to State House, the Party of National Unity, has been deregistered has not come as a surprise for those who have been keenly following political realignments within the Jubilee coalition partners after the 2013 general elections.
Although the Registrar of Political Parties claims the reason for deregistration is due to the fact that the party has no candidate in any office in Kenyan politics, lack of funds and multiple overdue debts continue to haunt the once robust political party that Kibaki rode on to retain power. Political analysts say there is more than meets the eye in the PNU’s deregistration saga.
During the run-up to the 2013 elections, PNU under the stewardship of the late George Saitoti had refused to disband to join TNA as Saitoti declared that his name must appear on the presidential ballot paper.
A number of high-ranking TNA strategists from Central province and the larger Mount Kenya region tried in vain to convince him to abandon his presidential ambition and to back Uhuru Kenyatta but Saitoti refused to cede ground.
According to records at the Registrar of Political parties, PNU was founded as a political coalition of parties in Kenya and was launched on September 16 2007 with Kibaki as its presidential flagbearer. It was later registered as a political party following conditions set by the Political Parties Act 2008.
Coalition partners under PNU were Kanu, Narc-Kenya, Ford-Kenya, Ford-People, Democratic Party, Shirikisho and others. President Mwai Kibaki was to be the only personal member of PNU besides the corporate membership through the affiliated parties.
In the run-up to the 2007, Kibaki’s attempts to use the Charity Ngilu-led Narc party for his presidential bid hit a snag after it became apparent that she was unwilling to team up with him like in 2007 and instead opting to support former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s bid for the presidency.
PNU formed hurriedly two months to the election as a coalition of parties performed dismally winning only 43 seats in parliament against ODMs 99 seats. However, its candidate Mwai Kibaki was declared winner in the elections leading to widespread violence until a power-sharing deal was brokered by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
Saitoti was later to be named the chairman with Amos Kimunya as the secretary-general and Kibaki as the party leader. The party’s slogan was “Kazi Iendelee”.
Saitoti served as PNU chairman till his death in 2012 while Kibaki was party leader until his retirement. In October 2012, the party’s national executive committee entered into a tentative election pact with TNA, where it would surrender the right to field individual candidates in the 2013 in exchange for supporting Uhuru’s presidential bid.
Following Saitoti’s death, PNU members began to desert the party for other parties. Majority of its top leadership joined TNA while others joined ODM. Then Kilgoris MP Gideon Konchella was appointed PNU chairman hitherto in an interim capacity. 
Konchella is one of PNU’s founder members and contested the Kilgoris seat on the party’s ticket in 2007, and a subsequent by-election in 2008 after the courts ordered a fresh poll in the constituency following electoral irregularities in the 2007 poll.
Upon demise of Saitoti, Kimunya decamped to TNA and Maina Kamanda took over as the party’s secretary general. Sources say it was Kamanda who was instrumental in seeing that PNU members supported Uhuru’s bid though before Saitoti’s death, he was a staunch Saitoti supporter and could not listen to anyone selling Uhuru’s candidature.
To show how Kamanda was deeply involved in Saitoti’s campaigns, during the burial of the former internal security minister, Kamanda who had travelled from United Kingdom where he was organising meetings for Saitoti to meet Kenyans in Diaspora said PNU had signed a memorandum of understanding with both then VP Kalonzo Musyoka and Uhuru Kenyatta.
Then prime minister Raila Odinga also claimed during Saitoti’s burial that he had entered an agreement to work together with the late Professor while retired President Daniel Moi said that he was helping Saitoti in his campaigns to clinch the country’s top job.
Back to the party’s woes, it is now being said that PNU had grossly violated the Political Parties Act. Those who have been keenly following the PNU deregistration drama say that signs that trouble has been brewing in the party for long came into the open last month after auctioneers acting on a warrant of attachment descended on its headquarters on Musa Gitau Lane, off Waiyaki Way and seized its property.
According to PNU’s inside sources, Flogin East Africa was seeking to recover a Sh1.5 million debt for supply of membership cards in October 2012 that was still unpaid. After the party suffered a mass defection following Saitoti’s death, it did not have candidates in the last general elections and it was ineligible to receive any funding from the political parties fund as it was abandoned by its members including Kibaki.
PNU’s officials led by secretary general John Anunda and an official John Mbugua want the court to compel the Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u to withdraw the gazette notice that deregistered the party.
According to the court papers, the officials claim that the registrar did not accord them an audience before deleting the party from the books. According to some inside sources at the registrar’s office, PNU’s deregistration is linked to its failure to submit financial accounts to the Auditor- General within three months after the closure of the financial year, which is in breach of section 31 (2) of the political parties Act.
But in a strange twist of events, PNU insiders now say that they have never given the Auditor- General the books of accounts because the financial statements that were subject to the Auditor General’s audit went missing during the reign of the former officials under Konchellah as chairman.
The current officials are now blaming Konchella and Kamanda for being behind the current party’s woes. First, they claim it was Konchella who signed the TNA-PNU pact which committed PNU not to field candidates for positions at the national or county levels and that any party members wishing to participate in nominations for the election would do so under the banner of TNA and according to its nomination rules.
But in a surprise political move, an hour after the signing of the deal, Konchella resigned from PNU chairmanship and joined William Ruto’s URP. He also defected alongside then party’s national treasurer and former Regional Development minister Mohammed Abdi.
During the defection ceremony, Konchella said “I have handed back the party to what looks like its home and I have also secured myself a position in where I feel politically comfortable. From now on, I am a staunch member of URP it is now my political home,” said Konchella.
As claims that he had sold the party to TNA and to support Uhuru rent the air, Konchella was quick to defend himself with claims that after the death of Saitoti, top party officials were pulling in opposite directions, with the question of which presidential candidate to support in the presidential elections.
By the time Saitoti died, Uhuru and Ruto had not agreed to run on a joint ticket and were holding separate campaigns. Top PNU leaders were divided whether to support Ruto or Uhuru’s candidature. It was after such disagreements that Konchella decided to back Ruto and decamped to URP.
Other officials who deserted PNU for URP were vice chairman Chirau Mwakwere and Ekwe Ethuro and other officials while secretary general Kimunya and organising secretary Maina Kamanda who had been pushing the party to support Uhuru joined TNA.
Kamanda and Kimunya had initially been opposed to Uhuru’s presidency and were more comfortable with Saitoti and so was Konchella, Mwakwere and Ethuro. The two groups later found themselves in the same Jubilee coalition and even those who were opposed to Uhuru’s candidature had to swallow their pride and support him for political survival.
Whereas Kamanda and Konchella won their parliamentary seats of Starehe and Kilgoris respectively, Ethuro and Mwakwere lost. Kimunya then Transport minister lost to a newcomer and immediately wrote to his constituents accusing them of being unappreciative of his good work.
Kimunya was trounced by little known Nairobi lawyer Samuel Gichigi of APK who garnered 18,972 votes against Kimunya’s 16,689 on TNA ticket. Others were James Mbugua of GNU (685), John Njenga of ODM (184) and Peter Ngugi of Narc who got 357 votes.
Kimunya who had held the Kipipiri parliamentary seat for 10 years had allegedly been defeated during the TNA nominations but was controversially handed the TNA certificate to the disappointment of the voters who vowed to teach him a lasting political lesson. True to their words, come election day, Kimunya was floored by Gichigi.
In a move that shocked many, Kimunya wrote to the people of Kipipiri accusing them of not appreciating his development record and left it with an official of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission much to the detriment of the locals.
Returning officer Acenia Njoroge read the letter to the people after announcing the results. The letter read in part: “I am very disappointed that the people of Kipipiri did not appreciate my development record.”
Ethuro lost the Turkana county senator to Ford-Kenya’s John Munyes. Munyes garnered 66,162 votes against Ethuro’s 31,311 and Nakusa Ekaru of New Ford-K who got 3,400 votes.
Ethuro was later given political lifeline after URP nominated him to contest the seat of the Senate speaker which he won with the support of senators allied to Jubilee.
Mwakwere on the other hand was URP’s candidate for the Kwale senatorial race where he was trounced by ODM’s Boy Juma Boy who garnered 60,886 votes against Mwakwere’s 41,753. Others were Kombo Mwero of KNC (14,292) and Nicholas Zani of Kadu Asili who got 7,155 votes. Mwakwere was recently appointed as ambassador to Tanzania. 
Another politician who deserted PNU was Nairobi political activist Stanley Livondo. Livondo joined Musalia Mudavadi’s UDF and contested the Nairobi senatorial seat on UDF ticket and got 19,373 votes against TNA’s Mike Sonko who got 814,184. Others were Ronald Onyango of Safina (3,006), Okiya Omtata of Ford-K (5,959), Boniface Adoyo of LPK (10,527), David Kinyua of APK (5,159), Margaret Wanjiru of ODM (526,437), and Richard Adere who was an independent candidate with 3,477 votes.
George Nyamweya who was a staunch PNU supporter and founder also deserted the party and joined Mudavadi’s UDF where he flew the party’s ticket for the Kisii senatorial race. Nyamweya garnered 6,328 votes against ODM’s Chris Obure who got 120,445 votes. Others were Amboga Onwong’a (independent-2,552), Omingo Magara of PDP (101,377), Raphael Raini of Ford-K (2,562), Reuben Oyondi of Ford-P (3,647) and Sam Ongeri of TNA (106,843).
Othaya MP Mary Wambui who was once Narc activist turned PNU activist and now TNA MP also deserted PNU upon the demise of Saitoti. She later won the Othaya parliamentary seat.