MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?

Uhuru's desperate bid to reconcile Jubilee

Jubilee split followed the March 9, 2018, handshake between the President and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

In Summary

• The President and party leader will have to contend with the deep-rooted suspicions and divisions that have spread not only within the party but throughout the entire Jubilee government.

• In his interview with NTV in January, Ruto, who is the Jubilee deputy party leader admitted the four-year-old party is divided.

President Uhuru Kenyatta meets Jubilee MPs at State House Nairobi.
CALMING THE WATERS: President Uhuru Kenyatta meets Jubilee MPs at State House Nairobi.
Image: PPS

After almost two years of infighting, President Uhuru Kenyatta is trying to put  the Jubilee Party house in order ahead of the 2022  General Election.

But this will come at a price.  The President, who is the party leader, will have to contend with the deep-rooted suspicions and divisions that have spread not only within the party but also throughout the entire Jubilee government.

The ruling party had scheduled a non-parliamentary meeting (Kamukunji) for all its legislators on Friday but it was cancelled following the death of retired President Daniel Moi, who was buried on Wednesday. 

It is understood that Uhuru is keen on ensuring a formidable and united party that will provide a solid foundation to push his Big Four development agenda and the Building Bridges Initiative taskforce report should it go to Parliament.

This could be the end of the frictions and infighting in Jubilee, which have resulted in Tangatanga and Kieleweke factions.

However, it is not yet clear when this long-awaited meeting will take place, having been postponed “to a later date” by secretary general Raphael Tuju.

Tuju was also involved in a car accident on Wednesday on his way to Moi's burial in Kabarak. 

It is understood that Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto agreed to call off the meeting for them to “fully mourn Moi”.

The much-anticipated meeting the MPs have been pushing for could have been the second since they were elected into office in 2017.

The Jubilee split followed the March 9, 2018, handshake between the President and  ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Team Tangatanga is affiliated with the Deputy President while Kielewe is pro-the President and his handshake partner, Raila.

In his interview with NTV in January, Ruto, who is also the Jubilee deputy party leader, admitted the four-year-old party is divided.

It is understood that the handshake fueled suspicions between the Uhuru and Ruto camps. The Ruto camp felt the handshake that was secretly crafted without him and which has been seen as the creation of the BBI was aimed at discarding the p;d 2013 Jubilee succession plan.

While Uhuru has insisted that the BBI task force, which is in its second stage of collecting views from Kenyans, has nothing to do with the 2022 elections, some are convinced that the Senator Yusuff Haji-lead team is under instructions to recommend restructuring of government through a referendum.

In January last year, then Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe was forced to resign after several months of chiding the DP.

Months after his resignation, Ruto accused some  Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries and senior government officials of plotting to assassinate him. This resulted in cold wars in the Cabinet.

There have also been sustained arrests and prosecution of politicians and government officials seen to be allied to Ruto.

NEW ENERGY IN JUBILEE

Political analysts observe that the decision by Uhuru to try to reconcile the feuding factions within Jubilee will inject new energy and revitalise the Party. If it succeeds.

Gabriel Muthuma said a united Jubilee has more to offer than a divided one.

“Pulling together in the same direction will ensure they are able to concentrate on delivering their core mandate and most importantly their Big Four agenda and the President’s Uhuru Legacy projects,” he said.

Muthuma also said if indeed the President wants the BBI to be supported across the country, he ought to start from within the Jubilee Party.

“When President Uhuru and Deputy William Ruto folded their parties to merge with a united front called Jubilee, it was said they had great plans for a grand and durable party based on ideology and values and not the casual political vehicle that politicians dump after every election,” he said.

“It’s for this reason that top Jubilee leaders have visited other nations to study how their main political parties are run, maintained and administered. ANC of South Africa and the Communist Party of China have provided good case studies for Jubilee,” Muthama added.

He said the President has “a name and a legacy to protect, and given his great intentions for the county —leaving behind a divided Jubilee Party is not one of them”.

Pokot South MP David Pkosing said the unity of Jubilee is paramount to Uhuru.

Pkosing, who chairs the Roads committee in the National Assembly, said Jubilee was founded on the principle to unite Kenyans.

"Jubilee has a contract with the people of Kenya and that contract is well captured in our manifesto. The handshake meant well to unify Kenyans but it came with its politics," he said.

He observed that for Jubilee to survive post-handshake, its members must first rally behind its values, dispelling reports that there are deep divisions within the party.

"I challenge anyone to count for me the so-called Kieleweke MPs and those baptised by media as Tangatanga. You will realise that Jubilee is intact. The loudest are those who joined the party from the opposition parties in the run-up to 2017," he added.

Nyandarua Woman Representative Faith Gitau said the Jubilee meeting is long overdue and it was unfortunate that bad politics were allowed to almost destroy the party.

She noted that the decision by the President and the DP to accept to put the house in order is a step in the right direction.

“If this meeting will materialise, you will see much progress in terms of development. The Jubilee Party had a programme to unify Kenyans and that has been witnessed in previous years,” Gitau said.

“The supporters of the President and the Deputy President have been praying for this meeting to happen so that we ease the tensions and bad politics that have resulted in infighting in the government."

"The President recently toured parts of Mt Kenya counties and it was clear to him that people want us to remain intact as we were in 2013,” she added.