Two political coalitions form in Kenya as 2022 race takes shape
Politicians eyeing State House have adopted a two-pronged approach to solidify their chances of clinching the top seat in the 2022 General Election.
With the elections barely 18 months away and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s term coming to a close, alliances along two competing sides are emerging.
One of the foremost alliances seems to be forming around the 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, the two parties that agreed to work together to solve problems bedeviling the country.
Only on Friday, Kanu chairman Gideon Moi hinted at a mega coalition that would include President Kenyatta, Raila ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, among others ahead of the 2022 General Election.
The second coalition seems to gravitate around Deputy President William Ruto, who has been isolated in government and is now campaigning under his ‘Hustler’ nation banner.
“I will not rule out any such possibility because political parties are formed to acquire power and to govern,” he said.
Mid last year, Jubilee also entered into a post-poll coalition agreement with Kanu, which saw some Kanu leaders take up some leadership positions on the government side in Parliament.
The move angered Ruto’s allies, who had to give way, and have had run-ins with Jubilee Party.
And early this month, they moved to rebrand Party for Reforms and Development (PDR) to United Democratic Alliance (UDA), giving the biggest hint that it might be Ruto’s party of choice in 2022.
The party changed its symbol from a bull to a wheelbarrow, which has become a sensational political tool and statement after the DP distributed the equipment to youths, alongside other items.
And last week’s move by Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) leader Isaac Ruto to back the DP’s quest for the top seat is a pointer to the battle for new alliances that is shaping up ahead of the 2022 polls.
The Building Bridges Imitative (BBI) has not only brought Jubilee and ODM together but has also roped in other parties such as Amani National Congress, Wiper, Ford Kenya and Kanu into an alliance with Uhuru’s wing of Jubilee Party.
Jubilee party Secretary General Raphael Tuju hinted at this when he announced that the party would not be fielding candidates in the upcoming by-elections in Matungu and Kabuchai constituencies, and Machakos senatorial seat.
Tuju said the party made the decision in line with its position to unite the country and support its BBI allies in Nasa.
Speaking in Laikipia on Friday, Gideon Moi hinted at a post-referendum coalition comprising political parties supporting BBI ahead of the 2022 General Election.
According to Gideon, leaders of the various political parties spearheading the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2020 are likely to enter into a partnership that will form the next government.
He said those opposing BBI were free to form another coalition because theirs was already in place.
Speaking in Kisumu last week, Raila’s brother Oburu Oginga said ODM was keen on forming a pre-election coalition ahead of the 2022 elections to ensure that the former PM wins the presidency.
Although Raila is yet to declare whether he will be on the ballot, his allies have indicated that the party will have a presidential flag bearer. Oburu (Eala MP) and Gideon Ochanda (Bondo) say their party is working on a strategy that would guarantee them a win in the 2022 presidential race.
“With the current political landscape, anyone planning to win the presidential election will have to form a coalition with others,” said Ochanda.
Oburu said it was natural in politics to have alliances, arguing that ODM, being a significant player, was no exception.
“Our existence is significant and we can’t go into isolation. We are already working with other parties and would have pre- and post-election alliances,” said Oburu, adding that this will however depend on many factors such as the outcome of the BBI.
Ruto, on the other hand, has also launched an aggressive campaign in consolidating his Rift Valley support base by courting Isaac, West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo, who came to office on a Kanu ticket, and Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok, elected on an ODM ticket.
In the same breath, the DP, who has since identified United Democratic Alliance (UDA) as a possible vehicle for 2022, is in a race to bag former political opponents.
Former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, his Kakamega counterpart Boni Khalwale, Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, former ANC Secretary General Barrack Muluka and Eliud Owalo, a former Raila campaign strategist, are some of the individuals in the DP’s camp ahead of the next poll.
Ruto is keen to succeed President Kenyatta in 2022 and is using a strategy of ‘mop up every one and scatter none’ to catapult him to State House.
The projected re-branding of Kadu Asili was seen as the latest in the strategy by the DP to work with different political parties that will ensure all political regions are covered before the General Election.
The plan, however, came a cropper when the party’s top officials refused to let go, ruining efforts by the DP’s allies to make the outfit their regional vehicle.
There had been talk by Jumwa and her Kilifi North counterpart Owen Baya of taking over the party and rebranding it, plans that have now been put on hold after party leader Gerald Thoya lodged a complaint with Registrar of Political parties Anne Nderitu of “infringement by people with intent of throwing the party into disrepute”.
“We are building networks across the entire region, we have approached several leaders and the reception is overwhelming, people are saying this should have happened yesterday, we are quite upbeat about our party,” said Baya in an earlier interview.
There are at least six parties currently allied to the DP that have been strategically placed to help him ensure that he wins majority of governors, MPs and MCAs in 2022.
Apart from UDA and CCM, Ruto has affiliation to Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria’s People’s Empowerment Party (PEP), former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s The Service Party (TSP) and Muungano Party associated with Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana.
Others are People’s Democratic Party associated with former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara and the New Democrats Party.
Magara worked closely with Ruto in the wound up United Republican Party (URP) before they fell out.
Movement for Democracy and Growth, led by Ugenya MP David Ochieng, has also been associated with the DP. During a 2018 by-election in which Ochieng won back the seat, most ODM MPs said those voting for the legislator would be doing Ruto’s bidding.
Ruto’s political nemesis, Raila, last week held a series of meetings, including with the Kikuyu Council of Elders, where he announced plans to tour the Mt Kenya region.
Earlier in the week, Raila met ODM’s 47 county chairpersons ahead of a similar meeting with governors and MCAs. The question, however, remains how the political landscape will look in 2022, given the fluid nature of Kenya’s politics.