The two major coalitions of Jubilee Party and the National Super Alliance (NASA) are having nightmares over whether they should support their party candidates at the expense of losers who have gone independent but are still supporting their mother parties.
Jubilee and NASA are also at a loss over whether or not to adopt the ‘six-piece suit’ voting system during the August 8 elections. The dressing metaphor refers to voting strictly along party lines as opposed to making choices based on a candidate’s strengths.
There are worries in NASA, where affiliate parties are zoning their strongholds or the parties have fielded their respective candidates while in Jubilee, independent candidates are forcing President Uhuru Kenyatta and his team to go slow on the six-piece suit business.
Uhuru and his running mate William Ruto are facing rebellion from their strongholds of Central and Rift Valley regions, a matter that has forced them to go back to the drawing board to see how to deal with the rebels.
The President is having trouble with independents in Central, whose supporters booed when he campaigned in Nyandarua County. Led by Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, those who lost in the Jubilee nominations have formed an independents’ alliance and warned Uhuru not to underrate them.
But Uhuru and Ruto have been telling their supporters to vote only for Jubilee candidates.
Indeed, their message seemed to be winning when they met at State House Nakuru and got Governor Kinuthia Mbugua to abandon his re-election bid as an independent. His competitor, Lee Kinyanjui, bagged the Jubilee ticket.
But matters were different at the weekend, when Uhuru and Ruto hosted Jubilee candidates from Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties at State Lodge, Eldoret, and implored the independents to back the Jubilee candidates.
Led by Zedekiah Kiprop Bundotich ‘Buzeki’, who is vying as an independent for the Uasin Gishu governor’s seat, the independents ignored the President and his deputy and vowed to soldier on, urging the leaders to let the people decide.
Matters are no different in NASA. While campaigning at the coast over the weekend, Raila Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka sent conflicting messages to their supporters.
Raila, who has been forced to abandon his push for six-piece suit voting in Nyanza and Western, urged the people of Mombasa to vote entirely for his party’s candidates. The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader was campaigning for NASA and his ODM candidate for the Mombasa governorship, Governor Hassan Joho.
But Kalonzo didn’t support the idea and instead urged voters to elect his Wiper candidate Senator Hassan Omar.
Political leaders and commentators have divided opinions on the matter. Some say it does not portend well for NASA and Jubilee, while others accuse the presidential candidates of being undemocratic.
James ole Kiyiapi, who vied for the presidency in 2013, accuses NASA of being non-strategic.
“I expected NASA to analyse various regions using comparative advantage and field single candidates. The friendly fire they have allowed could be lethal. It is not clever to allow Omar to run against Joho; Boni Khalwale against Governor Wycliffe Oparanya of ODM, and Wiper, Amani and Ford Kenya fielding governor candidates in Bungoma,” says the Eldoret University professor.
He argues that doing so would give the incumbent, Kenneth Lusaka, the advantage of retaining the seat in Bungoma County as the Opposition’s votes would be divided among the affiliate party candidates. This, he adds, could also force Jubilee or NASA to end up with a diluted Parliament or county assemblies.
“Kenyans are more alert and they are telling their leaders that you can’t force them to adopt their (leaders’) ways. The leaders sealed the loophole that was used to cross over to other parties. Now they have given birth to the independents’ movement that threatens the existence of parties,” says Mr Kiyiapi.
Makueni MP Dan Maanzo agrees with Kiyiapi, saying the situation might cost parties dearly.
“We have tried to talk to Senator Omar to abandon his bid but he has refused. This is likely to divide the votes. Those running as independents should back the winners. Segmentation is bad and NASA leaders should solve this before the ballot papers are printed,” reckons Mr Maanzo.
James Nyoro, the running mate for Kiambu County governor candidate Ferdinand Waititu, thinks the independents are bound to fail because history is not on their side.
“During Jomo Kenyatta’s reign, Bildad Kagia and Fred Kubai failed when they caused internal revolts. During Daniel Moi’s time, Jean-Marie Seroney, Koigi Wamwere and Chelagat Jemutai failed. During Mwai Kibaki’s time, Paul Muite and the rest failed. The current crop of rebels will also not succeed,” says Dr Nyoro.
And Kioko Ireri, a lecturer at the United States International University, says as long as those vying rally their supporters to vote for their preferred presidential candidates, there is no problem.