Recently, the fight for the control of the Jubilee National Management Committee (NMC) has been one of the flash points between Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto supporters. Some people will be perplexed to see the shoving and pushing between Kenya’s top politicians and wonder why is this party worth the fight, anyways?
Well, the Jubilee party is worth a great deal in modern Kenyan politics. Here are the reasons to as why the Jubilee party is very important to both William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta:
Jubilee Party: The Most Recognizable Brand
After being used as a vehicle to successfully deliver Uhuruto twice (2013 and 2017) to State House, The Jubilee Party is the most recognizable brand in Kenyan politics. Just like in business, your brand determines whether you secure lucrative business contracts or not, the same way, politicians see their political parties as business organizations from which they derive a living by winning political offices.
If you have been paying attention in the past election, not only did Jubilee’s top leaders win the State House, most of other party affiliates like County Governors, Members of Parliament, etc did so as well. A good example is the gubernatorial elections in Bomet County and Kirinyaga County and to throw in the mix, Kiambu and Kirinyaga Counties.
The victories in the above counties shows the commanding successes associated with being in the right party machinery. Even the infamous Mbuvi Sonko could not have won the Nairobi gubernatorial elections without being a Jubilee Party affiliate! Most people will agree that the Jubilee Party is the most recognized brand in Kenyan politics in modern history and you stand a significantly better chance of winning if you get support from the Jubilee cartels. The Jubilee party’s allure is nationwide.
Sense of Urgency, Time Shortage before Next Election
One can notice that the fight for the control of the Jubilee party has recently intensified. This is because politicians are running out of time and if one loses the grip of their party or worse, get kicked out of the party, it will be difficult to start a brand new party as there is not enough time to familiarize the newly formed party with voters.
The current Coronavirus pandemic makes the situation even dire as all assemblies including meetings, churches and schools are banned in an effort to combat Covid-19. Moreover, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to advertise and market a new party in Kenya and the cost to do that will be in millions of shillings. Consequently, it can be assumed that if one of the top politicians ever get kicked out of their current party at this juncture, such an ordeal will be tantamount to their death politically.
Political Sabotage Against Ruto
It can be seen that the current scramble by Uhuru supporters to take control of the Jubilee Party may be a covert attempt to sabotage William Ruto’s career. The deputy president has outgrown his usefulness to Uhuru Kenyatta as the latter do not see him as that beneficial after all. Ruto wants to be president come 2022. While Uhuru Kenyatta’s intention is obviously in question and because the current constitution has not been changed yet, he will not be eligible to run for the office of the president any more as he has exhausted the two set limits. So this leaves the current head of state with very few options.
The most palatable option for him is to team-up with Raila Odinga, drum up support for BBI and then convince Kenyans to change the constitution to allow the reinstatement of the Office of the Prime Minister and then run for this new role. That is exactly what Uhuru Kenyatta is doing right now. But the problem is that in the current Jubilee Party, Uhuru Kenyatta is the chairman and leader of the party and Ruto is the Vice-chairman. But this creates friction and competing interests within the party. How do you solve this? By backhandedly elbowing Ruto out of the party into the cold!
There is no doubt that William Ruto will eventually be kicked out of the Jubilee Party. By kicking Ruto out, Uhuru Kenyatta supporters will maintain total control of the Jubilee party because once Ruto exits, most if not all of his supporters within the Jubilee party will follow suit and leave. Leaving the Jubilee Party will be disastrous to William Ruto’s chances of becoming president because he does not have enough time to coalesce enough supporters to win a general election. Once again, time is not on his side to form a new party, market it nationwide and hence get a nod from supporters for the presidency. This will work to the advantage of the Raila-Kenyatta political alliance, although it is yet to be seen whether Kenyans are actually ready to change the constitution again, just 10 years after they did so. If they reject the idea, Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga’s political careers will be effectively over!
URP and TNA Don’t Exist
With the dissolution of United Republican Party (URP) by William Ruto and The National Alliance (TNA) by Uhuru Kenyatta, both of these politicians do not have a second option to fall back to. It should be noted that although NASA principals like Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka joined a coalition, they did not abandon or dissolve their own political parties. Raila Odinga still is the leader and chairman of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) while Kalonzo Musyoka still has the Wiper Party. But the current president and deputy president do not have that option available to them at the moment as they dissolved their parties and merged into Jubilee.
It can be argued that it is unfair for Uhuru Kenyatta to try to monopolize Jubilee because both himself and Ruto shared the vision of equally running the Jubilee Party. But as I said before, Uhuru Kenyatta is in between a rock and a hard place at the moment because in Kenya, political parties field only one candidate for the top job during the general election. So if things do not change in the Jubilee Party as far as Ruto is concerned and the constitution is not changed, Uhuru will be required to support William Ruto’s run for the presidency in 2022. But if Ruto is kicked out, this will be avoided.