TROUBLED BASE

Jubilee-ODM pact: Some Uhuru allies uneasy

Say move could spell doom for their careers in a region that has for many years been fed on negative propaganda against Raila

In Summary

• Mt Kenya politicians have since 2007 portrayed Raila as the region’s bogeyman who must be stopped from being president and aspirants associated with the veteran Opposition chief has always been considered outcasts.

• However, the Thursday revelation of the ongoing talks between the officials of the two parties seek to through Uhuru troops into appreciating a new political reality

Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju, his ODM counterpart Edwin Sifuna, Jubilee vice chair David Murathe and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed on Thursday, June 17, 2021.
Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju, his ODM counterpart Edwin Sifuna, Jubilee vice chair David Murathe and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed on Thursday, June 17, 2021.
Image: HANDOUT

Anxiety has rocked President Uhuru Kenyatta's camp over the announcement that Jubilee and ODM are set to sign a pre-2022 election alliance.

Some of Kenyatta's lieutenants from Mt Kenya are apprehensive that the political pact will have far-reaching implications to their careers in a region long accustomed—after years of negative propaganda—to the false narrative that ODM boss Raila Odinga is a dangerous politician they must all strive to fear or hate.

Mt Kenya politicians have since 2007 portrayed Raila as a bogeyman who must be stopped from being president and any aspirant associated with the long-serving Opposition chief has always been considered an outcast.

The majority of the governors and members of the National Assembly and the Senate, who were eyeing defend their seats on the Jubilee ticket, had started agitating for reforms in the outfit ahead of the August 2022 general election.

However, the Thursday report of the behind-the-scenes talks between the two parties has thrown some party members into confusion.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui
Image: FILE

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui who has teamed up with his Kirinyaga counterpart Anne Waiguri in calling for changes at the helm of Jubilee expressed dismay over the secrecy of the plans. 

In a phone interview on Friday, Kinyanjui, who has called for the removal of Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe and secretary general Raphael Tuju, described the deal as “a survival gimmick meant to divert attention”.

He said Jubilee, though destined for a coalition with other outfits, “would have sorted out domestic issues before venturing out” and wondered why party members were not involved in the negotiations.

“As a staunch member, we have watched with dismay a party we believe in being hijacked by a few with total disregard for its members. This only further complicates the situation,” he said.

He added: “Party structure and respect for its members is key to success. At the opportune time, we shall constitute credible persons to spearhead negotiations with our would-be partners.”

A Jubilee MP, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal for airing such pessimism, claimed the alliance might not work for them in Mt Kenya. He said the people of Mt Kenya "have yet to embrace Raila fully".

“We have to be honest, the alliance between ODM and Jubilee was rushed and poorly thought out. The people who will suffer is not the President, but the majority of us who now have our political careers in jeopardy,” he said.

The Thursday meeting brought together Jubilee and ODM officials where a deal was formally struck to start talks for a 2022 pre-coalition agreement.

The meeting at a hotel in Kiambu county was attended by Tuju and his ODM counterpart Edwin Sifuna.

ODM chairman John Mbadi, Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed and Igembe North MP Maoka Maore were part of the team.

Although Raila has yet to declare his 2022 political plans, Kenyatta's inner circle believes only the ODM leader can stop Ruto’s march to State House.

Since 2007, Mt Kenya propagandists have characterised Raila as a divisive and vindictive figure who can destroy the Kikuyu nation.

Since the times of their fathers—the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga—the Kikuyu and Luo communities have been on the opposing sides save for during the quest for multipartyism and in 2002 when Raila and former President Mwai Kibaki came together.

Raila's father served as Jomo Kenyatta's vice president, but the pair fell out and Jaramogi subsequently quit the government in 1966, sparking a political rivalry that persisted between the Luo and Kikuyu over the years—a situation that was worsened by the assassination of former Cabinet Minister Tom Joseph Mboya. 

Raila would also fell out with Kibaki's administration barely a year after Narc took charge following their historic victory during the 2002 general election.

In the last three years, Mt Kenya elite and elders have launched spirited campaigns in efforts to undo the bogeyman image they had created of Raila and prepare the region for his State House march.

Raila has on several occasions hosted elders and several politicians at his Nairobi and Bondo homes in what has been seen as trying to warm up to the region.

The elders were to host Raila in Nyeri early this year, but the ceremony was put off on the grounds of the coronavirus surge.

Kikuyu Council of Elders chairman Wachira Kiago, who has been leading the pro-Raila charms, said the Akikuyu people have buried the long-held negative perception of the former Prime Minister.

Speaking to the Star on the phone, Kiago said Central will listen to all the presidential candidates and make decisions based on the development agenda each has for the region.

“They will support the person who has their interests at heart. We are all Kenyans. No one should feel unwelcome to Mt Kenya. Raila did good in accepting the handshake, many Kenyans got a peaceful environment to carry on with their lives,” he said.

“We do not have a problem with anybody as long as our interests are taken care of. So if he (Raila) comes to Mt Kenya and says he will do this and that for us, then Kenyans will decide who is the best.”

On Friday, Tuju said Jubilee and ODM will field one presidential candidate in next year's polls.

"If we reach an agreement in terms of coming up with an alliance, which is on the table, then we should have one presidential candidate," Tuju said during a press conference in Nairobi.

The Cabinet Secretary without portfolio said they are open to including other political parties only if they expressed interest.

"In terms of an alliance, it must be an alliance of the willing. If other parties express interest, we will have them on the table," he said.