Deputy President William Ruto’s announcement of the date of Jubilee Party elections has stirred a hornets’ nest.
Speaking in Kakamega County on Thursday, Mr Ruto said the party will hold elections early next year. “I’m asking, specifically Jubilee members, that as a democratic party that believes in open transparent competition, each one of us will compete for whatever position they are looking for.
“To kick off the process early next year, we’ll have elections of the party countrywide so that we can have a grassroots network competitively identified to manage the affairs of our party,” he said.
Speaking at Malinya village in Ikolomani Sub-County during a memorial service for his wife Adelaide Shikanga, the wife of former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, the DP added: “We believe a democratic party is suitable for a democratic country like Kenya. That is what we must do.”
Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju was first off the blocks, saying, elections were due, according to the party’s constitution, but “It’s NEC (National Executive Council) that will come up with a full programme.”
He told the Media: “NEC will decide whether the elections will start from the grassroots all the way to the national offices. We expect to hold the elections somewhere after March next year.”
Mr Tuju added: “We didn’t have money but now we have received it from the Political Parties Fund. So we will spend some on party elections after NEC approval.”
But Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri and nominated MP Maina Kamanda accused the DP of trying to stage a coup in the party by “usurping party leader President Kenyatta’s powers”.
Mr Ngunjiri said: “The DP is not the leader of the party or the spokesperson. He’s an interested person, so a lot of what he’s saying must be taken with a pinch of salt because he wants to try and manage the party so that it can give him an edge over any competitor who wants to run for President on Jubilee ticket.”
Mr Kamanda accused the DP of acting as if he is he is President. “He purports to speak as if he is the President. He has never accepted that he’s a deputy. He thinks he’s an equal partner with Uhuru, which he is not,” he said.
However, Jubilee deputy secretary-general Caleb Kositany, Senate deputy chief whip Irungu Kang’ata and Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa welcomed the DP’s announcement.
Mr Kositany said the announcement would give party members a chance to elect leaders for the Jubilee family “into the future. Remember Jubilee is not a one-man show and is here for posterity.”
Mr Kang’ata said party elections are a legal requirement. “We’ll have officials that respect authority and support President Uhuru [Kenyatta]’s Big Four agenda. He is doing a fantastic job in fixing roads, improving healthcare and extending power lines, and that needs to be augmented by a calm political environment,” Mr Kang’ata said.
Mr Barasa said the polls would provide an opportunity for the party leadership to be “in the hands of the people and not a few members in some boardroom”.
Mr Ruto’s sentiments came a day after Mr Tuju reiterated that he was not the automatic Jubilee candidate for the presidential race in 2022.
The DP also supported the call by the Catholic Church on donations from politicians, saying it gives the country the right direction on church offerings.
Mr Ruto said the direction given by the church will enable those who don’t go to church to donate their offerings while at home.
They “have now been given an option to use paybill numbers, write cheques or send through electronic money transfer. As committed Christians, we will adhere to this to ensure that the work of God goes ahead,” the DP said.
Mr Ruto spoke minutes after Amani National Congress (ANC) party Musalia Mudavadi consoled Dr Khalwale’s family during a funeral service held at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.
He urged Kenyans to take cancer screening seriously. “Each one of us must find time for screening so that we can identify, in good time, matters to do with cancer so that it is treated in its initial stage,” he said.