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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 22 March 2015


An unnerving fear is quietly gripping Jubilee following increasing indications that securing a second term might not be a walk in the park after all. To compound matters is the talk that Uhuru Kenyatta ran for presidency in 2013 to evade ICC dungeons and, now that he has been cleared, he no longer considers the presidential campaigns a do-or-die affair and so he is unlikely to give it his all as he did in 2013.
As if this is not enough, there are others sowing the notion that should ICC find William Ruto culpable of his charges, Uhuru will not defend his seat. That Uhuru is not beyond doing the unfathomable including stepping down is no secret. In the runup to 2013 polls, he had agreed to back Musalia Mudavadi for president only for Ruto to prevail him not to do so. Those who know Uhuru well say that being president is to him not such a big deal.
Such scenario is naturally bound to animate the opposition which last week received a much-needed political gust under its wings by the victory in Kajiado Central. If indeed it be true that a good day is seen in the morning, then the Jubilee defeat portends a bad day for Uhuru and Ruto as the country turns the last bend towards 2017. The humiliating loss was interpreted by some to mean that Jubilee Alliance Party has not been well received outside Central and the Maasai bastions of Rift Valley. Jap’s candidate Patrick Tutui garnered 15,508 votes while ODM’s Elijah Memusi bagged 16,008.
Although a number of Uhuru allies attribute the loss to the bungled Jap nominations, analyst say presidents do not lose such obvious by-elections and Uhuru and Ruto should be worried if this is how they will approach the 2017 presidential election.
The last time TNA won a by-election outside its political bedrock of Rift Valley and Mount Kenya region was in December 2013 during the Bomachoge-Borabu by-elections.
In a hotly contested race, TNA’s Joel Onyancha garnered 10,483 against ODM’s Peter Kimori’s 10,052. The by-election came at a time when Jubilee was just nine months in power and still had high public confidence ratings.
After the Kisii by-election, the party was trounced in subsequent by-elections in Makueni, Mathare, Homa Bay and now Kajiado Central.
In Nyaribari Chache, TNA’s candidate finished a distant third behind Ford-People’s Richard Tongi and ODM’s Chris Bichage.
In Gatundu South by-election, analysts say had Jubilee not put pressure on opposing candidates to withdraw from the race, Moses Kuria of TNA would have suffered a devastating defeat.
In Kibwezi West, TNA fearing defeat threw its weight behind Patrick Musimba who was an independent candidate against Cord’s Kalembe Ndile. Although Kalembe lost by 500 votes, the blame was squarely put on him after he failed to use Sh2m campaign funds from Raila Odinga and Sh1m from Johnson Muthama on the last day and instead bought land near Machakos town which he recently sold to Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua at Sh7m. Kalembe is now in Jubilee from where he lobs unprintable epithets to Muthama.
The Kajiado Jubilee loss comes even before Jubilee recovers from another by-election defeat in Mathare which was also blamed on poor scheming and infighting among it campaigners. Just like in the Mathare by-election where the Kamba vote tilted in favour of Cord, the same happened in Kajiado Central where Kambas voted for Cord. To win the Kamba vote, Uhuru had dispatched colourful Senator Mike Sonko and herbalist Agnes Ndetei to Kajiado. They could not deliver the 8000 Kamba vote to Jap despite the resources at their disposal.
Even in Central, contrary to the believe all is well, grumbling is on among local tycoons and political elite that Uhuru cannot make a serious decision before consulting Ruto. They cite the appointment of the new Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett to replace David Kimaiyo against more qualified Kenyans. Tribalism seems to have been the criteria and it is bound to be costly, it is argued. Just recently,  protesting maize farmers in Eldoret attacked the Jubilee regime and called for the return of Mwai Kibaki whom they praised for paying maize and milk farmers promptly. Chants of ‘Kibaki arudi!’ rent the air. As this was happening in Eldoret, at Maasai Technical Institute, Kajiado where the by-election results were being announced, the song ‘yote yawezekana bila Uhuru’ was the hit.
It is not a secret that Jap, the party Uhuru plans to use in 2017 started on a wrong footing and must use the Kajiado by-election to rebrand before attempting to sell the party outside the Mount Kenya region.
There are also concerns that although Ruto managed to secure Uhuru substantial votes in 2013 from Narok and Kajiado, it now seems that Maasai voters are trooping back to Cord.
In 2013, in Narok county, Uhuru garnered 109,413 votes against Raila’s 118,623 votes but analysts now say with the ongoing political wars in the county and the recent arrest of top Narok politicians, it is a different field for Uhuru. Uhuru is blamed for being overcautious and not making moves in Maasai politics fearing he will annoy his deputy.
Then there is URP/TNA fight in Maasai region. URP has never been comfortable with TNA making inroads in what they believe is their bedrock.
TNAs say, just like Ruto has not allowed TNA to make inroads in URP dominated areas, he should also keep off TNA zones. One such URP zone where Ruto does not want TNA to venture is Narok and where area MP Kenta ole Moitalel blocked the visit of William Ntimama at State House where Uhuru was to have received them.
The bitter truth is that however much Ruto is said to be behind Jap’s formation, the party has not been received well in Rift Valley. The URP leaders are totally opposed to joining Jap fearing that it has been hijacked by TNA.
The fear is that come 2017 elections, there is no guarantee that Uhuru and Ruto will run on the same ticket. It is against such fears that Kalenjin leaders have stood their ground that URP will not be dissolved and that they should borrow from 2007 elections when then Kibaki contested on PNU ticket while the rest contested on various affiliate parties such as Narc-K, Ford-K, Ford-People and Kanu.
Disbanding Jubilee affiliate parties has also proven to be a hard sell as affiliate parties like new Ford-Kenya, Ford-People, Kanu, APK and UDF.
The big question is that if URP and TNA disband to form a single party and not a coalition with Uhuru running in 2017 and Ruto taking over for two terms of 10 years, then it means those nursing presidential ambitions who are in Jubilee coalition like Musalia Mudavadi, Gideon Moi and Eugene Wamalwa must wait for another 15 years.
With Jap fronting Uhuru in 2017 and Ruto in 2022, they have closed doors for other presidential candidates with Jubilee. As things stand, no ambitious politician can scheme to get to power via Jap. Cord aware of the loopholes has decided to allow those eager to run for presidency on the party declare. Already, Kalonzo Musyoka,  Moses Wetangula and Raila himself are said to be eyeing the party ticket. Unlike Jap which is now seen as a closed shop for the next 20 years, Cord is out to market itself as democratic and more open although many say it is just a matter of time before jostling for the ticket puts it asunder.
The succession plot in Jap has sidelined those who could have joined it ahead of 2017 and added value by bringing a new vote bloc. Analysts say Ruto’s declaration he will succeed Uhuru could unite other tribes against Kikuyus and Kalenjins ahead of 2017. Their question is: is it that only two tribes will rule Kenya?
To some analysts Mudavadi is seen as more saleable to Mount Kenya region and across the divide than Ruto. To them, Jap could have cast the political net wider and brought on board faces like Mudavadi. However, it is said Mudavadi factor is a nightmare for Ruto who will do all at his disposal to block Mudavadi.
How Uhuru could be a one-term president is a political scheme that Cord is working on to bring together the major tribes against Kalenjin and Kikuyu.  The assumption here is that when you have the Kamba, the Luo, the Luhya, the Kisii and the Coast in one political alliance and with all potential voters registered, it hardly matters who the ruling Jubilee coalition may have on its side as the presidential candidate. To make Cord more national, it is said to be reaching out to former presidential candidates Peter Kenneth and Martha Karua together with those from minority tribes. Karua has been associated with Okoa Kenya. Unconfirmed reports have  it, a section of Raila handlers not comfortable with  Nairobi governor Evans Kidero are pushing him to have Kenneth as the next governor on Cord. These are the same people who fronted for Bishop Margaret Wanjiru in 2013.
TNA sources divulged that the proposal to disband URP and TNA is due to the power struggles and infighting in Ruto’s URP. It has sent alarm bells ringing in the TNA wing that Uhuru is not in full control.
Fear within TNA and amongst Uhuru’s strategists is that if the current happenings in URP are not handled firmly, this is likely to complicate Uhuru’s second State House bid.
It is now said that should Ruto fail to contain dissenting and rebellious voices in his party, having him as Uhuru’s running mate in 2017  for which he has already positioned himself despite the ICC hurdle will have negative impact and could cost Uhuru his second bid. A number of options are being worked on.
The fear among Uhuru strategists is that in 2017 Uhuru will be carrying the burden of incumbency and all unfulfilled pledges such as the free laptops for primary pupils. Already a campaign  slogan Uhuru “alidaganya watoto wa shule” is on literally interpreted Uhuru cheated school children. To complicate matters for Uhuru is the propaganda being peddled, cheating the children is a sin before God. In the Holy scriptures, Jesus told off those who wanted children to stay far from him and told the children to go to him as the Kingdom of God belongs to them. If Uhuru can cheat the children what about fighting corruption.
Tribalism and tribal appointments to major public offices will sustain the anti-Kikuyu/Kalenjin sentiment even in 2017. There is a feeling that only Kikuyus and Kalenjins are appointed to any  government position.
It is also widely believed that there is no political will from the executive to address the past injustices; especially irregular allocation of public land and grabbing of community land.
Apart from losing the Maasai votes, Uhuru/Ruto is also said to have lost a major vote block in Somali counties and other Muslims vote blocks. Muslims factor will be key in 2017. Going by the last elections, URP won most of the elective posts compared to TNA.
In Garissa county, Uhuru garnered 41,672 votes to Raila’s 44,724 votes. It is now believed that Uhuru has lost more than half the votes he received in this county.
In Wajir county, Uhuru garnered 38,927 votes compared to Raila’s 49,712 and again, going by current politicl situation in the county, Jubilee has lost more than half the votes received in 2013.
In Marsabit county, Uhuru garnered 42,406 votes while Raila got 43,843 votes while in Isiolo county, Uhuru got 26,401 votes against Raila’s 14,108 votes.
Uhuru allies are now said to be working on their plan B should Ruto be convicted or should the Kalenjin rebel and front Ruto in 2017 or join another coalition.
There is one option of Uhuru having a running mate from Kalenjin Rift Valley to counter the rebellion. Here the name of Baringo senator Gideon Moi features.
Another thorny issue that is threatening Uhuru’s successful 2017 campaigns is a claim that TNA has been secretly supporting Bomet governor Isaac Ruto to destabilise URP. Recently, some URP MPs went public and declared that Governor Ruto is enjoying the support of TNA to whittle the DP’s power base in Rift Valley.
Analysts say the only hope for Uhuru lies in the fact that the opposition disintegrates. However, with Jap now being the common enemy the possibility of all opposition leaders Raila, Kalonzo, Mudavadi, Kenneth, Karua and Eugene uniting cannot be ruled out.
Another worry for Uhuru handlers is Cord strategic plan on how to win the 2017 elections. According to the plan, one of the strategic initiatives is embarking on a massive ID registration campaign in its strongholds. This, the party reckons, will overturn the so-called tyranny of numbers.
Cord also plans to mobilise ID holders especially in their strongholds for vote enlisting. Cord leaders believe that the last presidential race could have resulted into a run-off had registered voters in Cord strongholds turned out in large numbers to cast their ballots.
The fear in the Uhuru camp is that North Eastern Kenya which voted for Raila had close to 94,997 adults who did not register as voters while 60,648 had voters card but did not cast.
It is also estimated that in Eastern, 1,006,653 did not register as voters while 295,290 of those who registered did not vote in 2013 while in Nyanza, 895,617 did not register while 204,616 registered voters did not vote. And in Nairobi, 542,315 did not register while 321,625 did not cast their ballots despite having been listed. In Western, some 782,730 ID card holders did not register to vote while 220,288 of those registered did not vote.
Another bone of contention within the URP/TNA circles is a claim by Uhuru allies that Ruto’s men are spoiling things for Uhuru in the name of sky team.
The sky team is from Ruto’s URP and comprises majority leader Aden Duale and Kindiki Kithure, Charles Keter, Kipchumba Murkomen, Mithika Linturi and Justin Muturi.
Sources say the team is soiling the government’s name as they do not spare parastatal bosses, cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries who also are manipulated to award tenders to favoured local and foreign firms in the name of raising money for 2017 polls.The formation of Jap is blamed on sky team.
Back to Kajiado, no sooner had the seat fallen vacant than it emerged that the battle to recapture the seat would be a two-horse race. The two coalitions sharpened their daggers long before the IEBC received the nomination papers. The seat fell vacant after Joseph  Nkaissery resigned after he accepted to be appointed as a cabinet secretary of Interior Security and Coordination of National government.  He was the only MP who won on an ODM ticket in Maa dominated counties of Kajiado and Narok during the March 2013 general election. The rest of the seats were shared between TNA and URP.  Raila team hitherto appeared to have surrendered to fate that there was no guarantee ODM would reclaim the seat.  This was manifested when they petitioned IEBC not to conduct a by-election and instead allow the party to pick a replacement.
The ODM team also took advantage of the popularity of Memusi who is related to Nkaissery. This was a major boost for Cord because apart from Nkaissery reports indicated the rest of family members, who included his wife, supported the candidature of Memusi. It is worth noting both Jap and ODM candidates hailed from the same clan and clan politics play in a big role in determining who leads the Maa community. Having been born and raised in Kajiado Central, Memusi was said to have been highly regarded and respected within the Matapato clan. As ODM was scheming, Uhuru was being misled by the likes of  Duale and Sonko. Sonko was to deliver the Kamba vote to Jap and Duale the Muslim.
This now brings  to the question. How did Memusi lose the Jap ticket during the nomination? Many believe the exercise was infiltrated and manipulated by the political forces who hailed from vast Kajiado county but not Kajiado Central. One of the names that was being mentioned is that of former Internal Security minister and current MP for Loitoktok Metito Ole Katoo. He is said to have led a team of outsiders who influenced the nomination of Tutui. Why Uhuru relies on Ole Katoo for advice in Maasai politics has left many guessing. It is the same Katoo who lobbied to have Joseph ole Lenku named Interior cabinet boss.
Just when he thought everything was working out for the best after ICC terminated his crimes against humanity charges that had been causing him sleepless nights, Uhuru suffered a humiliating defeat in a fiercely contested by-election that was supposed to test his 2017 political vessel.
Uhuru and had camped in the Maasai home turf of Nkaiserry telling all and sundry to reciprocate the good gesture of the president appointing one of their own by endorsing the Jap candidate Tutui. But instead the Maasai known for their stubborn obstinacy had other ideas on their mind by the end of the count it was the ODM opposition that carried the day sending an alarming signal to Uhuruto to prepare for the battle of their lives in 2017. It is said a clearly baffled president and his deputy have retreated to lick their wounds and sources within the ruling party circles say heads will soon roll.