President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election campaign team has crafted a multi-pronged strategy to secure victory in the August 8 elections, including proposals to reconstruct the executive by creating the position of two deputy presidents and a prime minister.
The strategy, titled “The Political Situation”, also includes selective “hostility” towards some small parties but “indirectly” supporting others to operate in order to boost the President’s re-election. The thinking behind the plan makes it more porous than the recent hardline stand following a wave of defections in Jubilee’s strongholds.
There are suggestions to have a more accommodative attitude towards smaller parties in opposition strongholds.
On Wednesday, head of Jubilee Secretariat Raphael Tuju disowned the “friendly” parties — including PNU of Meru Governor Peter Munya, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap, Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto’s Chama Cha Mashinani, 2013 presidential candidate Martha Karua’s Narc Kenya and the Democratic Party — that have been receiving defectors from the ruling party.
But it is the proposal to reconstruct the Presidency as designed in the 2010 Constitution, and the resultant political implications, that is likely to attract intense scrutiny. The paper acknowledges that the party had not significantly expanded its strongholds in 2013.
To enhance its fortunes at the 2017 ballot, strategists proposed Jubilee could not sell continuity to Kenyans, and must make a pitch for something drastically new to the country’s government structure if elected for a second term.
This includes splitting the presidency to include two deputy presidents and prime minister’s offices and the prospect of recruiting cabinet secretaries from among parliamentarians.
“For example, Jubilee can promise a more inclusive presidency. This can be achieved by restructuring the presidency to include two or three deputies and a prime minister. This will attract more people into the coalition that Jubilee will enter into. The more the positions, the more the Government is likely to be representative and can genuinely promise inclusivity, which people are clamouring for,” the strategy paper says in part.
To effect the constitutional amendments necessary to achieve this, the confidential document proposes Jubilee leadership to reach out to the opposition to persuade them to agree to the proposed changes to alter the shape of the executive.
“Government can involve and agree with CORD on the possibility of amending the Constitution to effect the proposed structure of the Presidency,” it says.
Cord, which has since joined Mr Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress to form the National Super Alliance, has in recent months been seen as more likely to push for the creation of the position of PM and Deputy PM to accommodate its four principals and their allies.
Reached for comment yesterday, Parliamentary Leader of Majority Aden Duale declined to comment on the document, saying it was confidential.
“The Jubilee election strategy document is a confidential in-house document for the top Jubilee leadership. It is a highly classified document which cannot be divulged to the media. We are not like Nasa which calls a press conference whenever it comes up with a strategy,” he said.
David Murathe, a State House operative who is privy to the on-goings in the Kenyatta campaign team, confirmed that the Jubilee Party would work closely with other friendly political parties, singling out Maendeleo Chap Chap and Narc Kenya.
However, he appeared to favour a post-election pact with friendly parties.
“It will depend on whether they want pre- or post-election engagements. On our part, we can only think of a coalition after elections. If their philosophy is like ours, then we can see after elections. For now, Jubilee is going to the elections alone but, of course, there those parties that are on our side like Chap Chap and Narc Kenya,” he said.
According to the document, a lot of effort has to be put in to ensure a first-round win, warning that a run-off was undesirable.
In 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta garnered 6,173,433 votes against Cord presidential candidate Raila Odinga’s 5,340,546, and the victor would be decided by the courts in determining who had crossed the critical threshold of 50pc+1 of all the 11,513,979 votes cast, and if some 108,975 spoilt votes should have been included in the calculations of the margins or not.
And, in a candid, surgical analysis of the political standing of the ruling coalition, the paper anticipated the newly-crafted Jubilee Party would face opposition, proposing that some “small regional parties should not be killed, but indirectly supported” to boost President Kenyatta’s chances, especially by making inroads in opposition zones while energising the strongholds.
It is not clear how the “indirect support” would be done considering the public statements against the smaller “friendly” parties that have been riding on President Kenyatta’s re-election.
The paper adds that killing regional parties outside of Mt Kenya and Rift Valley had created a vacuum and a rich vote mining field for the opposition, in addition to the “danger” of promoting the rise of “new anti-Jubilee regional chiefs”.
“The introduction of Jubilee Party as an all encompassing party … is unlikely to gain traction in swing vote areas. In Western and other areas, for instance, the eminent demise of regional parties has left a vacuum that is likely to benefit Cord or promote anti-Jubilee regional chiefs,” the paper says.
True to the analysis, which was written last year, the top Jubilee leadership has had to go out of its way to energise its core constituencies and struggled to make significant inroads in opposition territories. It is not also clear what criteria were used to determine which small parties were to suffer “selective killing.”
Although Mr Tuju and his secretary-general, Ms Veronica Maina, have sought to present a brave face that Jubilee would go it alone and did not need small parties, sources, who spoke in confidence, said Jubilee may soon seek to enter into electoral pacts with the some of them.
“Jubilee has to strengthen first. We cannot embrace the small parties right now, but at some point, the ones that emerge strong will be allowed to brand their materials using President Uhuru Kenyatta’s portrait. We really cannot wish them away. Competition between several parties is critical in mobilising and boosting the Presidential vote turnout,” a strategist involved in the Jubilee setup, but who is not allowed to speak to the press, said.
Since inception, the Jubilee Party has been unable to shake off a persistent narrative among candidates apprehensive about its preparedness to conduct free and fair primaries.
Besides the Jubilee image issues, the paper, said to have been shared and discussed at the highest strategic levels, also addresses the politically sensitive question of possible benefits or drawbacks of presenting Uhuru-Ruto joint ticket for the second time to voters in 2017.
Ahead of the re-election campaign proper, the paper lists a raft of perception issues the Uhuru-Ruto Presidential team for re-election should brace itself to contend with even in its strongholds.
These include failed promises, exclusion of some communities from government jobs, insecurity, the 2022 succession politics and corruption, among others.