UDA in disarray as rivalry between members heightens
Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance is facing a battle of its young life, as key party members go after each other, threatening to dim the DP’s chances of winning the presidency next year.
Even so, the party does not yet consider the brutal exchanges a threat to its growth and is yet to put in place a strong dispute resolution mechanism to handle such fallout.
As days go by, however, one supremacy fight has emerged after another, the latest being the bare-knuckle exchange between Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, who have thrown caution to the wind as they attempt to damage each other’s political ambitions.
Both are from the DP’s home turf and are caught up in a vicious war for Senate seat. The verbal fights intensified at the weekend with both sparring for a showdown.
Mandago has insisted he will run for the Senate seat in Uasin Gishu but Sudi has publicly opposed the governor’s ambition, setting off a brutal fight that has split UDA supporters down the middle in the North Rift county. Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar has fallen out with the DP and is yet to declare whether she will defend the seat.
“The Senate will next year still be looking at audit reports for the years Mandago has been in office. How will he audit himself?” Sudi asked on Saturday.
“It is not acceptable. There are so many things we want to be investigated, including companies doing business with the county. We are seeking to establish the owners. That is why we are demanding he must go for a five-year break for us to audit and compare his leadership with the next governor.” Mandago has not taken Sudi’s daring attacks lying down.
He has responded in kind, telling off the Kapseret lawmaker for taking upon himself to decide who to vie for what seat, and promised to put the two-term MP in his place.
“I know where devolution has faced challenges. I know where we should invest more. I know where money for devolution is. That is why I want to be a senator. Sudi is all over telling people I should not be vying. Who is he to tell us not to vie for anything? We are struggling as a country because of such people who cannot draft a single bill in Parliament. He should stick to Kapseret. He has no right to lecture us on politics,” said Mandago.
In Kirinyaga, Woman Rep Wangui Ngirici attracted the wrath of UDA supporters at the weekend after posting a picture of herself clad in Jubilee party attire days after warning of possible exit from the DP’s party following the entry of longtime rival, Governor Anne Waiguru.
She was forced to pull it down after it received hundreds of unkind responses. On Saturday, Waiguru, who appears to have acquired a new lease of political life after decamping to Ruto’s camp, was among dozens of leaders who accompanied the DP on his tour of Nyeri county.
In the absence of Ngirici in the DP’s entourage, Waiguru continued to push for a stake in UDA as she campaigned for Ruto.
In Bomet, Governor Hillary Barchok and Petroleum Chief Administrative Secretary John Mosonik are locked in a bruising battle for the governor seat.
The two Ruto allies are the front runners for UDA’s ticket, although either would face-off with former Governor Isaac Ruto, who is seeking re-election on his Chama Cha Mashinani outfit and has already declared support for the DP to increase his chances of winning.
In Nandi, Governor Stephen Sang and Allan Kosgey, son of former long-serving minister Henry Kosgey, have left nothing to chance as they fight over who to call the shots in the county.
A similar war is brewing over who should replace outgoing Governor Paul Chepkwony in Kericho. Supporters of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter and those against his candidature have been after each other for a while even before the CS makes public his interest.
In Kajiado, Kajiado South MP Katoo Ole Metito is squaring it out with his Kajiado East colleague Peris Tobiko for UDA’s gubernatorial ticket. Tobiko recently decamped to UDA. Her move presents a tough challenge to Metito, who had been preparing a bid for the governor’s seat on UDA.
But officials who spoke to People Daily said they still considered the verbal fights normal for a young party that is still finding its footing at a time the political space is unstable and undefined.
Garissa Township MP Aden Duale said it was normal to have such fights in a national party but exuded confidence they would not negatively impact the DP’s popularity ahead of next year’s polls.
“The DP is popular across the country. He has a huge following in every corner of this country. His popularity would not be affected by the friendly fire among the supporters,” said Duale.