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Wave of smaller parties giving Jubilee sleepless nights

The Jubilee party is beginning to feel the pressure from smaller parties in its strongholds that had resisted the push to dissolve last year. 

The Party of National Unity, Maendeleo Chap Chap, Kanu, Chama Cha Mashinani have in recent weeks heightened their activities as they received defectors angling for seats that were hitherto thought to be a preserve of Jubilee.

In the scheme of things it appears only the presidency is out of bounds.

The ruling party’s strategists may be forced to go back to the drawing board, especially in the Mount Kenya and Rift Valley regions, as losing seats to the smaller parties in the August elections would go against Jubilee’s principle of consolidation.

But Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe said the activities of the smaller parties are futile .

“You have seen even the opposition are trying to copy us by coming up with one strong party. Jubilee is a juggernaut. Everyone else will be swept aside. Strong national parties are an idea whose time has come and going forward, small village parties have no space,” he said.

Mr Murathe added that the small parties should expect tough competition and Jubilee will leave nothing to chance in its aim to win all seats in its strongholds.

In the run up to the 2013 elections, President Uhuru Kenyatta asked for “six-piece” voting — for the Member of the County Assembly, Senator, MP, Senator, Governor and President.

MARSHALL NUMBERS

This was to avoid the pitfalls suffered by his predecessor Mwai Kibaki, who in 2007 allowed smaller parties in his strongholds to field candidates as long as they supported his presidential bid. Mr Kibaki got a contested win against Mr Raila Odinga and also struggled to marshal numbers in Parliament.

In their whistle stop tours in the last three weeks, President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have sidestepped party issues as they have concentrated on having people register as voters. Jubilee insiders say the next focus will be for free and fair nomination which will grant them the authority to campaign for Jubilee candidates.

Despite being dismissed as inconsequential by critics, the entry of Lenny Kivuti in the Embu gubernatorial seat on Maendeleo Chap Chap could be tricky to Jubilee.

He defected alongside Deputy Governor Dorothy Nditi, Mbeere South MP Charles Njagagua and 10 MCAs.

Whereas the county has two sub tribes of Embu and Mbeere, it is in the latter where clannism is deep rooted and has been used to determine election outcomes.

Senator Kivuti is largely seen to have beaten Mr Justin Muturi, now Speaker, in the 2007 elections because of the support of the dominant Mbeere clan. 

This time, apart from clan politics, he could also benefit from the Kamba vote that favourably views Maendeleo Chap Chap, a party formed by Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.

WAITING IN THE WINGS

His challengers from Jubilee are likely to be Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire and the incumbent Martin Wambora.

In Meru the perception that Kiraitu Murungi has a stranglehold over Jubilee ticket has led Governor Peter Munya to move to PNU where he is now the  party boss. The 2013 runners up for Governor, Dr Kilemi Mwiria, has also moved to Chap Chap party.

In Baringo and West Pokot, Senators Gideon Moi and John Lonyangapuo are waving the Kanu flag high.

In Bomet Isaac Rutto has his own Chama Cha Mashinani which he hopes to use to deliver the county to the opposition National Super Alliance. There are smaller parties like DP and Farmers party which are also waiting in the wings.

Mr David Kigochi, Farmers party leader, said the smaller parties will offer safe landing for aspirants who think they won’t make it in nominations but are keen to be on the ballot.

“The parties are now giving nomination certificates on first come first nominated basis. There is no room for rigging,” said Mr Kigochi.

Mr Murungi said that the emergence of the small parties is as a result of fear that nominations may not be free and fair in the major parties.

“The fear is historical because of underdeveloped structures of political democracy. Parties have not been able to conduct free, fair, open and transparent nominations in the past,” he said, adding that there will be more realignments ahead of the elections. 

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