Jubilee Party quietly rolls out second campaign machinery for Uhuru re-election

The second team, headed by a former highly-placed State House operative, last Thursday concluded the signing of leases with landlords in 47 counties, through a city law firm hired to secure and equip the offices.

Rent for offices had already been paid for six months by the time the landlords signed the leases.

As two critical deadlines loom ahead of 2017 election calendar, the Jubilee Party (JP) has quietly rolled out a second campaign machinery to assume charge of the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta even as politicians fight for the party’s nomination tickets.

Co-ordinators and caretakers for the 47 offices had also been hired and deployed, with former Nakuru DC James Mwaura as the national co-ordinator.

JP interim vice-chair David Murathe confirmed the establishment of 47 county level co-ordination offices with parallel 47 desks at the party headquarters manned by programme officers.

“These are party administration workers on a salary, reporting to the national co-ordinator, and not to politicians. Their offices are separate from any other offices opened by any other person or party in the past including TNA or URP. They are party recruitment centres, information and communication centres open to all candidates,” he added.

CRITICAL DEADLINES

The two critical deadlines that parties must contend with even as Jubilee positions for the elections include legal requirements for all candidates not being able to jump and switch parties later than the first week of May, next year – no later than 90 days to the August 8 election date.

Second, parties must submit their nomination returns to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) not later than 60 days to the election date.

Highly placed sources indicated that the Jubilee Party resolved at a retreat in Naivasha two weeks ago (November 11-14) to conduct nominations between March and April next year “to provide room for petitions and dispute resolutions”.

This leaves those eyeing party tickets no more than a 100 days (three months) to get their act together.

The party, also on November 14, submitted its request to IEBC for an advisory on requirements and budgets for IEBC services to conduct nominations on its behalf.

The co-ordination structure is separate from the Jubilee Party structure under former Cabinet Minister Raphael Tuju, and separate from offices opened by various players across the country.

The co-ordination offices will be based at the former TNA offices on State House Road, while the national secretariat is based at Pangani on Murang’a Road.

‘CENTRAL SOURCES’

“The offices will be unveiled before Christmas and will be the central sources of campaign information and materials, while the party offices conduct nominations, local campaigns and dispute arbitrations. The co-ordination structure is separate from local county structures and functions,” a highly placed source told the Nation.

The parallel machinery is also designed to correct some perceived anomalies inherent in a list of regional co-ordinators released two weeks ago, and which has opened a storm of opposition across Jubilee Party support bases.

“Most significantly, the new outfit allows the President to reach out to other potential supporters outside the Jubilee Party territories to support his re-election bid without necessarily requiring them or needing them to defect,” the source added.

The formation and role of the co-ordination campaign machine to play central resource mobilisation and management role is similar to the 2007 Kibaki Tena re-election team that planned, financed and co-ordinated Party of National Unity (PNU) activities under Maendeleo Resources Trust.

The formation of the outfit is likely to shake and wrong foot many players who were eyeing pivotal positions inside the Jubilee Party, while at the same time reassuring others that the recently unveiled regional co-ordinators do not have full sway on the nominations process and resources.

REMAINED INTACT

Many eyeing the Jubilee Party ticket were still edgy especially after self-declared aspirants and elected leaders were named regional co-ordinators, while those who disbanded their parties in anticipation of a new outfit have come to learn Jubilee Alliance Party remained intact, only effecting change of name to Jubilee Party.

Both President Uhuru Kenyatta’s and Deputy President William Ruto’s core support bases have been up in arms, voicing suspicions that the team unveiled  during the party’s National Governing Council meeting at the Bomas of Kenya looked more as a tactical flying of the kite and a decoy to divert attention from internal pressures and tensions.

In central Kenya, the choice of Nakuru County Speaker Susan Kihika, Thika Town MP Alice Ng’ang’a in Kiambu, Renyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire in Embu, Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua and Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi — all candidates for various elective positions — drew an avalanche of hue and cry.

But concerning this, Mr Murathe said those opposed to the list were not being sincere.

“I can understand those calling for the list to be expanded to make it more inclusive. But it is cheeky to say the party and the presidential campaign should ignore regional kingpins and politicians familiar with their terrain. For instance, how do you overlook Mr Murungi or Mr Gachagua after they folded their parties to join JP? Their role is strictly as presidential campaign champions in the regions, not party affairs.

RESPECTIVE BACKYARDS

Not only are the names perceived to represent divisive and polarising politics, than uniting and inspiring political voices in their respective backyards, but they are also themselves contenders in the process they are expected to oversee.

Leading lights missing from the list include Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau in Murang’a, Othaya MP Mary Wambui in Nyeri, Mukurwe-ini MP Kabando wa Kabando, Senator Lenny Kivuti in Embu, and Gatundu MP Moses Kuria.

In Meru, key players, among them presidential adviser and candidate for governorship Dr Kilemi Mwiria, dismissed the list as a dismal effort.

“It is unfair to put Kiraitu in a position to influence both the process and resources. I am consulting my supporters on the way forward,”  he is quoted to have cautioned.

The absence of Jubilee Deputy Majority Leader in the National Assembly Naomi Shaaban from the list was also suspect.

In Nairobi, failure to include Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan Abdi or a surrogate of Jubilee Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale to represent both Muslim and  Somali constituency raised further questions about the list being more of a decoy to distract and divert mounting tension within Jubilee, than a serious outfit charged with the assignment of the magnitude of a presidential re-election.

FEMALE LEADERS

And Just like in Mt Kenya region, the names from Rift Valley region featured female leaders prominently led by Sotik MP and Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso, Woman Representatives Soipan Tuyia (Narok), Joyce Emanikor (Turkana) and Janet Nangabo (Trans Nzoia). Male politicians included Turkana Senator John Munyes, Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito, and West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin.

Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet are most conspicuous in their absence from the list, as are the prominent names from North and South Rift.

The view of the team being more of a decoy to distract and divert attention is informed by the fact that during the “unveiling” of the list at the Bomas of Kenya, the President seemed to expend more of his attention and energy on the podium attacking Cord leader Raila Odinga than in spelling out the assignment, mandate and expectations from the team.

There have also been reports that the list was actually altered on the podium with some original names dropped and new ones inserted. The position of secretary-general is particularly seen as contentious with both Mr Kenyatta’s and Mr Ruto’s allies claiming it. The appointment of Mr Raphael Tuju to head the campaign secretariat, a day after the event, was settled upon as a compromise.

Voices from both President Kenyatta’s and Mr Ruto’s core support bases have publicly continued to denounce and fault the list.

Former Minister and ex-State House Comptroller Franklin Bett was quoted as saying: “It is as if the President and his Deputy are not interested in our support in 2017. Ignoring the North and South Rift was ill-advised.”

The anxiety and uncertainty over the processes and structures inside Jubilee Party’s campaign planning has left many players unwilling to speak publicly for fear of reprisals.

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