President Uhuru Kenyatta’s invisible hand in solving Jubilee Party nominations challenges is playing out in the open even as his staunch supporters relinquish their hardline stances and vowed to back their opponents.
Yesterday, three-time Starehe MP Maina Kamanda who joined politics more than three decades ago was the first to accept a party’s decision to hand the ticket to musician Charles Kanyi Njagua, alias Jaguar.
Minutes later, former Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua surrendered his party ticket to MP Yusuf Hassan at a press conference at the party’s headquarters, signalling a trend that could ensure losers stay within the party.
At the Jubilee House, it was the presence of President Kenyatta’s personal secretary Jomo Gecaga during the Mbugua press conference that suggested just how much the Head of State might have been involved in stopping the threat of a bleeding in the party.
In a rare press conference at his residence in Nairobi, Mr Kamanda first described Jubilee nominations in Nairobi as bogus but followed that with a concession to support Mr Kanyi.
“I don’t want to go back to the history on how the tallying was done or how I lost or how the other person lost.
“The party has made a decision and I am one key member of the party, I only urge my supporters, I know there are three already in the hospital because of the shock; they could not believe what was happening, I urge them to still stand with the Jubilee party and support whoever was nominated by Jubilee,” he told journalists.
On Wednesday, the Jubilee Party’s Appeals Tribunal handed Jaguar the ticket after finding “compelling evidence” that final results were altered in favour of Kamanda. It nullified the veteran politician’s victory.
Last week, the President told losers to stay within the Party, saying they will play key roles on the re-election campaign.
“We will accommodate everybody and that is what we are telling even the losers; support those who have won. This is your government. This is your Party and we will be together in our march to deliver change and transformation to our country,” he said when he toured the Party Headquarters.
Sources say Mr Kamanda, Peter Kenneth, Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita, Mogotio legislator Helen Sambili, Nandi Governor Cleophas Lang’at, Nakuru’s Kinuthia Mbugua, Kabando wa Kabando (Mukurwe-ini MP), Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru, William Kabogo and Nyeri Woman Rep Priscillah Nyokabi are among politicians told to support the President’s re-election campaign even after they lost in primaries.
They could be roped into the core campaign team or they could be assigned local campaign roles, a source said.
Yesterday, Mr Kamanda argued he resisted the call to go independent because it could divide votes for Jubilee, allowing the ODM candidate Steve Mbogo to win. But he still called out the Party’s Secretary-General for having a hand in his predicament.
“The nomination for our party in Nairobi was a sham and was not conducted according to the standard.
“If it was not conducted properly, who am I accusing? The head of the secretariat. It is [Raphael] Tuju. He is the person who was supposed to lay down the mechanism that was to prevent other members of other parties from interfering.”
At the Jubilee House presser, Mr Gecaga personally took things to himself, ushering Secretary-General Raphael Tuju to the podium after he had appeared to let Mr Mbugua speak for himself.
When he was done, Mr Gecaga led a small group of party officials and State operatives to clap for Mr Mbugua, and quickly ushered him out of the press centre, denying journalists an opportunity to ask questions.
Yesterday, Mr Mbugua said he had made the decision “for the bigger picture.”
“Hon Yusuf comes from the brotherly community of Somalis who have stood with Jubilee. “After detailed consultations, I am persuaded that the interests of our country and our city are more important than the win of an individual,” Mr Mbugua said.
Mr Mbugua said that he had also waived his right to challenge the results at the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal.
“I know my supporters will be very disappointed with this decision. I want to tell them to look at the bigger picture,” Mr Mbugua said.
He was flanked by Jubilee Party Nairobi Governor nominee Senator Mike Sonko and Mathare MP Steve Kariuki.