President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party is facing rivalry from friendly parties and independent candidates, many who lost during the party’s disputed primaries.
The rivalry is so intense that it threatens to eat into the ruling party’s numbers in both the National Assembly and the Senate.
Despite spirited attempts by the Jubilee leadership to whip them into dropping out of the race and instead support the party’s nominees, the independent candidates have defiantly remained on course, demanding to be given equal recognition during President Kenyatta’s campaign rallies.
Classic cases of this sibling rivalry pitting Jubilee Party candidates against those running on the tickets of friendly parties or as independent candidates is most intense in the battle for the governor’s seat in Kirinyaga, Meru, Embu, Kiambu, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet and Mandera counties.
In the governor’s race, the party is facing such rivalry in 19 counties while in the race for the senatorial seat, the party is experiencing the rivalry in 12 counties.
Jubilee Party candidates also face opposition from friendly parties and independent candidates in 15 constituencies.
“These two ladies are my friends and if you elect one of them as a governor, I will give the other a government job,” said President Kenyatta in Kirinyaga County on June 29.
Former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru is in a bruising battle for the governor’s seat with the “Iron Lady” Martha Karua of Narc-Kenya which has backed President Kenyatta’s re-election.
In Meru, Governor Peter Munya of PNU has vowed to vanquish Senator Kiraitu Murungi of Jubilee to political oblivion in a race that has been underpinned by the 2022 State House race.
Also in the high-stakes race is Maendeleo Chap Chap’s Kilemi Mwiria and Kinoti Gatobu, an independent aspirant, both backing President Kenyatta’s 2017 State House bid.
In neighbouring Embu, Mr Munya’s PNU has fielded Kithinji Kiragu, Senator Lenny Kivuti is carrying the Maendeleo Chap Chap flag, Ms Karua has Leonard Muriuki all battling Governor Martin Wambora of Jubilee.
“I have heard you and I have gotten the message. Vote for me but just vote for the leaders you want and that I can work with. Give me people who I can work with,” said the President in Nyeri, relaxing his early tough stance that he would only campaign for Jubilee candidates.
In Mandera, Governor Ali Roba, who refused to abide by a Garre Council of Elders’ decision to have him and the entire leadership not contest elections, will be facing Economic Freedom Party’s Hassan Noor, who has also backed President Kenyatta’s re-election.
The rivalry is also intense in Uasin Gishu where Jubilee’s Governor Jackson Mandago is facing businessman Zedekiah Bundotich and in neighbouring Elgeyo-Marakwet where Governor Alex Tolgos is battling against Moses Changwony, an independent.
In Kiambu County, Governor William Kabogo is the independent candidate and is facing Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu of Jubilee.
In the Senate race, the classic case of sibling rivalry is where Baringo Senator Gideon Moi is seeking to defend his seat on a Kanu ticket against Jubilee-backed Simon Chelugui.
In the National Assembly and Senate races, the Jubilee leadership has adopted a more defiant approach, preferring to back the party’s candidates in order to secure a majority in both Houses.
“Jubilee wants troops in Parliament and wants to avoid a situation where they have people in Parliament whom they do not directly control,” a party strategist disclosed.