Kenya: Jubilee party just a few inches from crumbling

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In Kenyan political history, no political party has survived split when it goes through hard times, most specifically, internal wrangles since Independence.

Going by history, Jubilee, Kenyan ruling party has minimal chances of survival, following squabbles from within for more than a year.  The once united and popular party across the country of late has become a battleground as members tear each other in public.

On September 7, 2016, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party The National Alliance (TNA), Deputy President William Ruto’s the United Republican Party (URP) and other small parties dissolved to form the Jubilee Party, a political vehicle Kenyatta used in the 2017 polls.

The outfit’s troubles date back to the much-hyped handshake between President Kenyatta and the opposition leader Raila Odinga on March 9, 2018, after bungled presidential elections that plunged the East African country into chaos.

The new bromance between Kenyatta and his once arch-rival has not been taken lightly by Ruto. There is panic in his camp that the relationship between the duo may scuttle his presidential bid. The deputy president has constantly attacked Odinga saying he is behind Jubilee’s woes.

His allies have gone to an extent of demanding Mr Kenyatta to retract peace deal with the former Prime Minister.

The ongoing fight on graft has further widened the rift in the party, especially the latest case of Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich. Rotich is accused of facilitating the theft of billions of shillings in multi-dam projects. The multi-agency investigation team revealed that USD$190 million was lost.

The CS, Treasury Principal Secretary Dr Kamau Thuge alongside other top government officials were nabbed last week and arraigned the following day in a Nairobi court.  They were charged with abuse of office, neglect of official duty, committing an offence of financial misconduct, conspiracy to defraud among other counts.

The suspects were later sacked by the President and replaced by others on an acting capacity, a move that drawn criticism from Ruto’s lieutenants. 

Oscar Sudi, one of Ruto’s key men from his backyard unveiled a scathing attack against the Head of the State, accusing him of targeting Ruto’s community. The lawmaker dared Kenyatta to relinquish power, noting that he is incompetent to lead the country.

“Uhuru has been unable to work and deliver for Kenyans. He needs to step down and I will take the helm of the leadership of this country and within three months I will set things in order,” he said.

The vocal politician told off Mr Ruto to stop pretending that there is no break up between him and Kenyatta, whom he has supported in last two elections. The former agriculture minister has severally refuted claims that there is no bad blood between him and his boss.

“My friendship with President Kenyatta started long ago before he became President. I have supported his ambition since 2002,” Ruto reiterated in July 2019.

The President’s warning against early campaigns by Mr Ruto’s camp ahead of 2022 polls has been ignored. Also, Ruto has vehemently opposed a call for a referendum to restructure the leadership of the country, another sign that the two are not reading from the same script without forgetting a spat between him and former Jubilee vice chairperson David Murathe.

Mr Murathe resigned early this year and vowed to employ every mean to block the DP from succeeding Kenyatta.

The Row in the party has led to the emergence of two factions, one embracing the handshake and the other one opposing it. Ruto’s claims that a section of cabinet secretaries allied with the President is planning how to eliminate him has further fuelled the rivalry between the two groups.

The claims were found to be false by the Director of Criminal Investigations, and Ruto’s communication director was arraigned over an alleged fake letter that went viral on social media alleging his assassination.

President Kenyatta’s aim to leave behind a good legacy when his term expires is hanging in the balance due to bickering within his cabinet. Many believe that if the current state goes on, the President may not achieve his four Big Agenda which includes manufacturing, food security, affordable housing and Universal Health Care. The stakes could not be higher.

By Samuel Ouma | @journalist_27

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