Mt Kenya fringe parties lose flavour after Jubilee revival
Small political parties in Mt Kenya region whose leaders were hoping to thrive as alternative outfits to Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) because of what was seen as Jubilee Party’s fading popularity, have started losing their shine.
Until recently when President Uhuru Kenyatta embarked on reviving the Jubilee Party, a section of leaders fearful of contesting through the ruling party and those supportive of Ruto but found it unwise to join UDA which had gained significant influence in the region, arguing it was a kin to a bride’s family riding to a groom’s vehicle during a dowry negotiation trip were warming up to alternative parties .
That left leaders to embark of reviving old political parties such as Party of National Unity (PNU), Democratic Party (DP), Narc Kenya and Farmers Party while new others such as The Service Party of Mwangi Kiunjuri, Tujibebe Wakenya of ex-Kiambu governor William Kabogo and Chama Cha Kazi of Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria were registered.
Other new parties are Ubuntu People’s Forum of Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, Devolution Empowerment Party belonging to Governor Kiraitu Murungi, Usawa kwa Wote of Muran’ga Governor Mwangi wa Iria and National Ordinary People Empowered Union (NOPEU) associated with EALA MP Mpuru Aburi.
But politicians and pundits argue that the massive campaign by Uhuru to revamp his party and make it the dominant outfit in Mt Kenya to up the stakes in the Azimio La Umoja coalition and Ruto’s perceived influence in the region, which candidates are hoping to ride on, have worked against the small parties which are now losing strong candidates.
While some political party leaders have ditched their respective outfits, notably Nakuru Governor who has left Ubuntu to defend his seat on Jubilee and his Laikipia counterpart Ndiritu Muriithi, who had initially declared that he would defend his seat on PNU, is reported to have silently registered with Jubilee, while aspirants who had joined small parties have either returned to Jubilee or UDA.
“Small parties have faced a shocker after the re-emergence of Jubilee and the UDA wave. The two main parties have financial muscle thus they have overshadowed the small parties. Aspirants have also shunned the small parties because they did not know where the coalition the party would join. So they adopted the wait and see strategy thus denying the parties the much needed nomination fees,” Peter Ngethe, a political scientist, told People Daily.
Ngethe points out that some aspirants have also opted to go the independent way since the parties lack a grassroots network to influence any win, adding that “it’s cheaper to go directly to the ballot rather than pay nomination fees to a party that will not add immense value to the campaign.”
While choosing to remain in Jubilee, Governor Kinyanjui who had been on an overdrive to market Ubuntu said: “To consolidate the Azimio Coalition support base and lead the campaign team in the region, a decision has been made that I defend my Governor seat on a Jubilee Party ticket. I therefore wish to state that I will defend my seat as Nakuru Governor on the Jubilee ticket. This decision has been made in full consultation with top leadership and members of the Ubuntu Peoples Forum-UPF party,” Kinyanjui said.
Eng John Mugwe who is seeking the Kiambu Senate seat of a Jubilee ticket acknowledges that Mt Kenya region was clutching at straws because its dominant party Jubilee was fading until recently, little was seen to be done to rejuvenate it, something which he said saw aspirants easily view the friend parties as the alternatives.
But with Uhuru’s onslaught to boost ongoing crusade in favour of the revival of Jubilee , the fringe parties which would have rode on his absence in the political space were injured.
“There were people who had the fear that Jubilee was dead, and this gave some politicians the thoughts of coming up with alternative parties. But these parties could not take off because they are personalized parties because they are owned by individuals and have no philosophy. Therefore, when Uhuru embarked on reviving Jubilee, many felt comfortable because it has a foundation, history and structures. Again the efforts being put by Uhuru who is the region’s leader, and the language of it being the region’s party is sinking into people’s mind,” Mugwe told People Daily yesterday.
Though during the recent Sagana Three meeting, Uhuru said he did not have a problem with other parties mushrooming in the region, he is keen on rejuvenating Jubilee which has new leadership, and two weeks ago, he told aspirants that “we are in Azimio but in Mt Kenya we are Jubilee”.
Among those who have left CCK for Jubilee include Kuria’s bother Alois Kinyanjui who is now eyeing the Juja MP seat, Jamleck Kamau who is now seeking the Murang’a Governor seat and Damaris Wambui Waiganjo who was wants to be Kiambaa MP returned to Jubilee.