Warembo na Uhuru at Nairobi’s pipeline ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s presentation of papers to IEBC at KICC, Nairobi. Photo/Elvis Ogina (Nairobi) May 29th,2017
The season when political lobby groups reap big is here; and so are million-a-plate dinners and luncheons.
With only two months left to the August 8 General Election, politicians and wheeler dealers angling for lucrative Government tenders have formed groups that support different parties.
However, some of the groups’ activities are done without the blessings of those who they purport to support.
The groups have been practising for a while now. One such group, called Uhuru Tena, organised a fundraiser at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) last year.
Chaperoned by an aspirant who is eyeing the Nairobi Senate seat, members of the group had already booked a room at the KICC to host the harambee whose proceeds were to support President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee party.
On the material day, it emerged the President’s handlers and even the party’s secretariat were not aware and had not sanctioned the fundraiser.
Although guests had begun arriving, the organisers were given ten minutes by the police to leave the venue. Some guests only learnt at that time that the event had not been sanctioned by the President.
Another event has been planned this Friday at the Safari Park Hotel and has been publicised through social media.
The invite reads in part: “Friends of Jubilee Foundation invites you to support the future of Kenya at a dinner with President Uhuru Kenyatta at Safari Park Hotel, Paradise Gardens on Friday, June 9 at 6.30pm.”
The message was posted by one Kevin Munyui. On Sunday, when one of the women whose number was listed on the invitation was called by The Standard to shed more light on the event, she said she could not divulge any information.
She promised to refer The Standard to the foundation’s public relations company but failed to do so. Yesterday, she said she was based at the Jubilee secretariat in Pangani.
“Please let me have your email address so that we can send a press pack now,” she told The Standard.
However, by the time we went to press, she had not sent any information related to the group.
Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju confirmed the existence of the group but denied that it is based at the party’s secretariat.
“We are aware of their work, we support them but they are not based at the secretariat,” Tuju told The Standard.
Another active group that has been holding meetings at Safari Park Hotel is United for Kiambu, which brings together candidates who have been cleared to vie for various seats in the county.
Another new lobby group, this time claiming to be working for the Opposition National Super Alliance is calling itself Nasa Champions. Moses Oburu, its national coordinator, said the group’s work is to help popularise the Opposition outfit.
“Our job is to buttress the main NASA network. We will also recruit and retrain election agents to man the voting centres in the 290 constituencies,” Oburu said.
Then there is Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Reloaded, a group that was once spearheaded by Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and his Turkana counterpart Josephat Nanok.
Though Namwamba has quit ODM and joined Labour Party, the group is still active and posts pictures and campaign schedules on Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Facebook wall.
Jubilee had its ‘reloaded’ group – JAP Reloaded – tasked with recruiting members to the party.
Down Coast, Warembo na Raila members are actively campaigning for Raila.
Still, the history of some political lobby groups in Kenya is not exactly rosy.
One such lobby group had encouraged its members to pool resources and buy land. It was later proved to be a hoax.
But lobby groups are not new in Kenya. One such group, Youth for Kanu (YK’92), played a key role in former President Daniel Moi’s re-election in 1992 and formed a political springboard for many leaders, including Deputy President William Ruto.