By Samuel Ouma
Kenya heads towards critical elections in 2022, and many candidates have already expressed their interests in the country’s top seat led by Deputy President William Ruto. With 2022 drawing closer, political realignments and new parties’ formation have begun at very high gear.
So far, more than ten candidates have announced their presidential bids, and the number might increase with time. The latest to join the race is Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party headed by the AU envoy Raila Odinga. The duo whose terms as Governor expire next year are deputizing Odinga. Oparanya and Joho seek the ODM ticket in a battle that will pit them against their boss to get a strong candidate to face Ruto.
“I will submit my nomination papers to seek the ODM ticket for the 2022 presidential race,” Oparanya told the Star.
The bold decision taken by the two county bosses was preceded by the ODM’s earlier announcement inviting applicants interested in vying for the 2022 presidential election of the party’s ticket to submit their applications latest on February 26, 2021. The Elections Board Chairperson Catherine Muyeka Mumma, in an advert on a local daily, said that each candidate must pay a ksh 1 million (approximately 10,000 USD) non-refundable fee. The applicants must also meet t the minimum requirements of presidential candidates as set out by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
“Pursuant to the resolution of the party’s Central Committee on the need for early preparations towards the 2022 General Elections and guided by The Constitution of Kenya, 2010, The Elections Act, 2011, The Political Parties Act, 2011, The Elections (General) Regulations, 2012, The ODM Constitution and The ODM party National Elections and Nomination Rules, the National Elections Board (NEB) hereby gives notice to party members who are interested in vying for the 2022 presidential elections on the ODM party ticket to declare their interest by submitting their applications to the NEB, “ read the part of the advert.
Other candidates include former vice presidents Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, Governors Alfred Mutua and Kivutha Kibwana, Senators Gideon Moi and Moses Wetangla, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Mukhisa Kituyi, and former minister Mwangi Kiunjuri.
Between now and next year, Kenyans are set to witness the birth of new political parties and alliances and party-hopping as leaders try to find out a political vehicle that will drive them to power. Reports from the Registrar of Political Parties’ office show that many people are tendering their resignation from one party and move to another.
“We do have an increase in people changing parties. People resign from one party and join another every day. Resignations are all over now, maybe because of the several by-elections that have been scheduled by the IEBC,” said the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu.
The ruling party’s ongoing battles, Jubilee, have seen the formation of a new political outfit, namely the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) associated with the deputy president. Even though the second in command has not personally come out and identify himself with the new party, his allies several times have hinted that the party is the chosen bus that will drive their boss to the presidency. Ruto’s allies are somehow correct because the outfit is associated with the Hustler Nation slogan, along with the Wheelbarrow Movement that Ruto has been popularising across the country.
“We formed Jubilee but to our dismay, we are humiliated and derided. We no longer have a say in it. In UDA which is an affiliate to Jubilee, we have a home that can help us ascend to power. There is an option now for us who have a difference of opinion regarding the operations of the Jubilee party. UDA has now gained traction across the country and we shall use it for shelter,” reiterated MP Caleb Kositany.
The United Democratic Alliance (UDA), formerly the Party of Development and Reform (PDR), will be launched soon, followed by the election of officials from the grassroots to the national level, according to the party’s chairman Johnson Muthama.
“We have succeeded in changing the name and already have our headquarters. Now we are in Phase Two where we are set to open offices in all the sub-counties and county headquarters. From there, we will elect officials in all our branches to the top leadership. This is the party by the hustlers and for the hustlers and we want them to own and be part of every step and process of the decision-making in the party,” said Muthama.
The country’s political atmosphere is already tensed as the presidential hopefuls engage in a bitter exchange of words. Recently, Kalonzo and Ruto locked horns over land grabbing claims. Ruto had accused the former of grabbing land belonging to the National Youth Service in Yatta, Machakos County. Kalonzo instead turned guns on the deputy president, accusing him of all manner of ills, and ended up branding him the chief land grabber. Addressing the press in Nairobi on January 19, 2021, the former vice president termed Ruto’s claims wild and desperate propaganda and challenged him to subject himself to lifestyle audit and investigations.
Prior, Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress Party (ANC) had asked Ruto to resign or face impeachment over his constant attack on the president. Ayub Savula, an ANC deputy party leader, threatened to rally lawmakers to ouster Ruto for allegedly disrespecting President Uhuru Kenyatta. Ruto, allies in rejoinder, described Mudavadi and his party as confused, asking them to keep off the Jubilee party’s affairs.
“Who is supposed to complain? Is it ANC or members of Jubilee? That is a sign of a confused party,” said former National Assembly Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali.
Moreover, Ruto’s claims that Raila should take responsibility for the government’s failures to meet the development plan due to a famous handshake has put him under fire from the opposition chief. Raila criticized him over Jubilee’s unfulfilled promises labeling him “Mr. Six months.”
“Mr Six months! The youngsters you promised laptops eight years ago are now old enough to see through your lies. The youth you promised eight million jobs in eight yrs can see through the wheelbarrow lie you are now peddling. It has been eight yrs Mr Six months and not three years. No Mr Six months!”
“There are people like ‘Mr. Six Months Time’, In six months time we shall give all children in schools laptops, in six months time we shall give one million jobs to our youth, in six months we shall build 47 modern stadia, in six months we shall build tarmacked roads,” said Raila.
President Kenyatta had indicated that he would prefer a person from an ethnic community other than any of the two that have produced the country’s past presidents to succeed him. Many leaders welcomed his statement except those in Ruto’s camp. Ruto hails from the Kalenjin community, which produced a long-serving head of state in Kenya’s political history. The late Daniel Moi served for 24 years before retiring in 2022.