Inside Politics

Exodus week as window of party hopping closes

Monday, March 21st, 2022 01:00 | By
Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu. PHOTO/File
Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu. PHOTO/Print

The country is expected to witness a week of mass defections beginning today as hundreds of aspirants get ready to shift parties with only five days to the deadline for party hopping.

The trend that began early this month will possibly hit fever pitch by Saturday, the day all registered parties are supposed to present to the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties their membership lists.

The office has set March 26 as the final day for the outfits that wish to field candidates in the 2022 General Election to submit their list of aspirants for onward transmission to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. 

Registrar Anne Nderitu (right) told “People Daily” the date was arrived at after interpretation of both the Elections Act and the Political Parties Act.

Once the lists are handed over to her office, a member will be legally denied the opportunity to move parties to vie for any seat in the August elections unless they become independent candidates. The deadline for one to become independent is May 9.

Owing to this, the Registrar said anyone intending to be sponsored by a party had no option but to find one and make sure they are fully registered by that date.

“The Elections Act requires IEBC to have the parties’ membership register 120 days to the elections (by April 9). Before then, the law requires the Registrar to have the registers 14 days before IEBC gets them. If you look at the timelines, then March 26 is the day we should have the lists before we transfer them to the IEBC,” she said.

Flurry of activity

The leading parties and coalitions are gearing up for a flurry of activity as they prepare to receive defectors and manage losses from high-profile hoppers. 

This month has already recorded to-and-fro movements in both Azimio la Umoja and Kenya Kwanza coalitions in a ping-pong of defections, preparing the stage for a climax this week. 

Azimio is led by Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta and has merged with One Kenya Alliance led by Kalonzo Musyoka.

Deputy President William Ruto leads Kenya Kwanza alliance and has joined forces with Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula.

The stage has already been set for a hive of activity as a number of lawmakers moved camps at the weekend, pointing to probable mass defections before this Saturday. 

Sirisia MP John Waluke was one of the high-profile defectors. He abandoned Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance for the revamped Jubilee Party.

Felt undervalued

Waluke, who has represented the constituency in Bungoma for two consecutive terms, claimed he felt undervalued by Ruto after the DP formed an alliance with Mudavadi and Wetangula, two principals with huge bases in Western region.

Ruto has focused on strengthening the alliance with the two leaders, causing friction within his camp.

Indeed, some of his ardent supporters from Bungoma fear they might be dispensed with in favour of the new entrants.

However, Ford-Kenya Organising Secretary Chris Mandu yesterday said it was not true that formation of the alliance had caused unease among Ruto’s allies in Western region.

He dismissed claims that an agreement had been put in place that allows Ford-Kenya and ANC to control Western counties at the expense of UDA.

“There is no agreement on zoning of the country in Kenya Kwanza. Those moving out have sensed defeat. As Ford Kenya, we are going to field candidates across the country for all positions except the presidency,” he said.

The string of defections, however, continued on Sunday as former Tana River Governor Hussein Dhado led two ex-MPs, Danson Mungatana and Ibrahim Sane, and several serving MCAs from the region to move to UDA.

Dhado unsuccessfully defended his seat on Jubilee Party in 2017.

Ruto told the team they had made the right decision to join the party. 

“You have made the right choice; this is the vehicle that will lead ordinary Kenyans to a new economic reality,” Ruto told the defectors.

Dhado, formerly a long-serving provincial administrator, was the county’s first governor between 2013 and 2017. He resigned as Interior Chief Administrative Secretary in February to launch his bid for the seat. 

Last month, the county’s council of elders endorsed him for the seat. 

He will face off with incumbent Governor Dadho Godhana, who was elected on an ODM ticket and is seeking re-election through the party. 

In Turkana, UDA is struggling to retain its grip as lawmakers initially aligned to it have left the party for Jubilee. As has been the case during the  last two election cycles, the contest in the North Rift county is between outgoing Governor Josphat Nanok and longtime rival John Munyes, a former Mining Cabinet Secretary.

The two have been engaging in supremacy battles for years over who calls the shots in the vast region.

They have been on each other’s necks since 2013 when Nanok defeated Munyes in the governor’s race, a feat he repeated in 2017. The former CAS, who quit the post in February to attempt to become the county’s second governor on Jubilee, is the Azimio pointman in the region.

Welcomed warmly

Nanok is, however, leaving the post and has been welcomed warmly in Ruto’s camp where he has been appointed Director-General of the Campaign Secretariat.

He is one of the founding members of UDA. In addition to directing the DP’s national campaigns, he is expected to employ his networks in Turkana to ensure the county votes for Ruto in August. However, he is facing a backlash as some key figures he has been relying on are abandoning him to join Munyes’ camp.

The latest to do so include county Woman Representative Joyce Emanikor, Turkana South MP James Lomenen and his Turkana East counterpart Ali Lokiru. They have been diehard followers of the DP.

Nanok is, however, banking on Turkana Central leader John Lodepe, whom he is backing to succeed him in August.

More on Inside Politics