Deputy President William Ruto’s move to support independent candidates in polls seems to have changed tact by openly backing United Democratic Alliance (UDA) contenders, a clear signal it could be his political vehicle in the 2022 polls.
On Sunday, Ruto endorsed UDA’s Bishop Margaret Wanjiru who had declared interest in the Nairobi governorship while he also hosted the party’s candidates eyeing the Machakos Senate seat at his Karen residence last week.
UDA, which is led by some of Ruto’s most vocal, notably former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama alongside ex-Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale has also fielded candidates in the Kabuchai and Matunga by-elections.
It will be a delicate balancing act as he maneuvers to project he was a key stakeholder in Jubilee as well support activities of another political party that could trigger accusations of violating the law.
Political observers argue that the DP simply is mark-timing his ultimate exit from the Jubilee coalition, which he co-founded with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Although the Political Parties Act provides that a person who openly supports the candidate of another party against that of his/her party is deemed to have defected, the events at the House of Hope Church in Kayole on Sunday summed up the latest political fallout.
Political analyst Javas Bigambo argued that Ruto was coming out as ferociously strong willed and spiteful of Jubilee, to the chagrin of the party rank and file.
“The writing is already on the wall. He now seems to be simply mark-timing his ultimate exit from a party widely seen as a Mt Kenya party. Constitutionally and legally he cannot be pushed out of Jubilee unless he is brazenly seen as supporting and championing the agenda of a different party and sabotaging his own party,” Bigambo argues.
According to Bigambo, in a crafty way, the DP is not mentioning the newly re-branded United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and will not be easily seen on the campaign trail openly supporting UDA, at least for now.
“Ruto seems to know that many odds are against him, and so he has thrown away the Jubilee compass and acquired his own, which is determining his political direction.”
Homa Bay Town MP Opondo Kaluma charged the law deems a person who openly supports the candidate of another party against that of his party to have defected.
“The DP as a member of the Jubilee Party on whose ticket he is DP and as the Principal Assistant of the President can’t support Wanjiru against the candidate of Jubilee Party.
He can’t be the Assistant of the President when he is not supporting the President’s candidate or chosen course,” said Kaluma.
Kaluma, an ally of Opposition chief Raila Odinga, contended that Ruto is misbehaving and engaged in impunity because of the obvious failure enforcement by concerned parties.
Political analyst and High Court advocate Martin Oloo however, explained that he would not support call for DP to quit Jubilee, rather to search his conscience and decide where he belongs.
“The DP cannot have his cake and eat it at the same time. He is either in or out of Jubilee. That said however, he is known to have been in ODM and out of ODM during ‘nusu mkate’ government,” he said.
But Belgut MP Nelson Koech a DP’s ardent ally, came to the defence of the DP charging there is reason to warrant the DP’s removal or resignation from his position because he has neither violated the constitution nor the Political Parties Act.
“UDA is Jubilee’s coalition partner and no less than the Registrar of political parties is the custodian of our coalition agreement for those who wish to peruse.
Probably their first point of action should be to terminate the coalition agreement.
If there are people to answer loyalty questions then the first is the President for advancing the interests of ODM within our party,” said Koech.