Race to register parties in wake of Jubilee feuds
Eric Wainaina and Mercy Mwai
At least 12 new political parties applied for registration last month in what appears to be a sudden rush by politicians to reposition themselves ahead of the 2022 General Election.
Two more parties have been registered in the same period by shadowy individuals believed to be nursing political ambitions in 2022 or serving the interests of other politicians.
Giving the breakdown, the Registrar of Political Parties (RPP) Ann Nderitu said two of the 12 applicants had been issued with provisional certificates, which means they are now a step away from formal registration.
Speaking through communications official John Mberia, Nderitu said her office was evaluating applications from 10 other parties which are also seeking registration after passing initial tests.
“Tens of names have been sent to our offices for reservation, the names are coming in every other day,” Mberia said.
“We have been getting requests continuously but this time, just like it happens anytime an election nears, the numbers are a bit higher,” said RPP’s office.
The newly-registered parties include The Service Party (TSP) associated with former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, who is perceived to be Deputy President William Ruto’s pointman in Mt Kenya region. The party was launched last month.
The National Ordinary People Empowerment Union (NOPEU) party, an outfit that has been gaining ground in the Meru region, is another new entrant in the scene.
Those issued with provisional registration certificates are the Party of Growth and Prosperity and the Entrust Pioneer Party.
Both were given the documents on June 23 and now await full registration after meeting the conditions set out in the Political Parties Act, 2011. They have six months to meet the conditions.
Those which have applied for registration and are being evaluated include the Accountability and Transparency Party, Democratic Renaissance, Party for Peace and Democracy, Msingi wa Taifa, Integrity Party of Kenya, Usawa Party, Star Progressive Party, National Democratic Expansion Party, Chama Changamko Kenya and Mabadiliko Party of Kenya.
Information on the new parties emerged as Ruto’s allies vowed not to surrender the Jubilee Party which the DP is keen to use in his 2022 presidential campaign.
Soy MP Caleb Kositany, the Jubilee Party deputy secretary general, and Belgut MP Nelson Koech, separately maintained that Ruto would stay put in Jubilee despite the current tribulations which have seen his allies purged from various leadership positions in the Senate and the National Assembly over their loyalty to him.
“We are fighting to ensure that there is sanity in Jubilee. When we do the elections, everything else will fall into place,” Kositany said in an interview with the People Daily.
Koech warned that they would “block” anybody else from using Jubilee in the 2022 elections if the DP fails to clinch the party ticket.
“I would like to insist that the vehicle that Ruto must use (in the 2022 presidential race) is the Jubilee Party.
In the event that he will not use it, no one else will use it,” Koech said, suggesting that the DP’s allies may be exploring other options to cushion him should he lose the party.
But other sources in Ruto’s camp who did not want to go on record for fear of being seen to pre-empt their political strategies, revealed that they were in the process of registering five new parties.
“Jubilee Asili party was just being used to distract people. We have many other options that we are exploring.
As of now we are in the process of registering five other parties,” said an MP from the Rift Valley.
This might explain the sudden flurry to register new parties.
Political analyst Denis Moturi said Ruto could be directly or indirectly linked to one or more of the parties that have been registered or are lining up for registration as he weighs his options in Jubilee.
“William Ruto is a senior politician and he is aware of the politics and the tribal intrigues of political parties. I am sure he is not just sitting there without an option.
Whether he is going to be directly or indirectly involved in registering new political parties, something is for sure; he will have a political vehicle in 2022 outside Jubilee and some of these parties being registered would want to associate themselves with him,” Moturi said.
Before the plan to register Jubilee Asili as a political party flopped after the Registrar said it failed the test of Section 8 of the Political Parties Act, Ruto’s allies had been working on launching it as his possible new political vehicle.
Sources revealed that his camp had already leased three premises in Karen, Runda and Ngong Road in Nairobi to coordinate his 2022 campaign strategies.
It is at one of these premises dubbed the Jubilee Asili Centre on Ngong Road that Ruto hosted 16 MPs allied to him after they were removed from the leadership of various National Assembly and senate committees.
“The offices are fully operational and that is where we will be holding our meetings. We are on top of the game in terms of preparations for the DP’s 2022 candidature and we will be rolling out a party soon,” said another MP from the North Rift.
Since January, the DP has been losing grip of Jubilee, a party he co-founded with President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a purge that has seen some of his key allies kicked out of top positions in Parliament.
Those kicked out over their association with him include National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, his counterpart in the Senate Kipchumba Murkomen, majority whips in the National Assembly and Senate, Benjamin Washiali and Susan Kihika, respectively ,and Senate deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki.
They have all been replaced by allies of President Kenyatta and his new found associates, opposition leader Raila Odinga and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka.