Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Wednesday, 08 Feb 2017 09:35 EAT
Until weeks ago, Maendeleo Chap Chap party (MCC) and the Party of National Unity (PNU) were fringe political outfits not many Kenyans were familiar with. But in a matter of weeks, the two parties have received key politicians from the Mt Kenya region defecting from the governing Jubilee Party and who have given the parties more than political lifeline.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has heamoragged support as aspirants fear its nominations will not be free and fair. MCC, associated with Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, and PNU (led by Meru governor Peter Munya) say they will support Uhuru's re-election, thereby making it easy for the president's supporters to join them.
MCC appeared to be the party to watch on Monday when Dr Mutua received Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti who dumped Jubilee. Mr Kivuti raised the same issues expressed by other defectors — they do not anticipate free and fair nominations in the governing party. "I decided after consulting 1,200 grassroots leaders at my Kanyuambora home on Sunday," he said.
Mr Kivuti was with his deputy governor candidate and former Manyatta MP Emilio Kathuri, incumbent Deputy Governor Dorothy Nditi, who is now running for woman representative position, and Mbeere North MP Muriuki Njagagua. More than 10 MCAs and aspirants for Parliament and county seats met at MCC headquarters on Monday.
Former Assistant Minister Kilemi Mwiria has also joined MCC, on whose ticket he will run for the Meru governorship. Predicting more defections to MCC, former Taita Taveta MP Jackson Mwalilu says, ”Maendeleo Chap Chap is the real tsunami. The rest are illusions. Watch this space!”
In the larger Mt Kenya region, a number of aspirants have defected to Mr Munya's party, leading the governor to preside over the opening of county and constituency offices in Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Nyeri, Embu, Muranga, and Isiolo counties among other areas.
With defections from Jubilee to PNU and MCC, there are growing fears within government ranks that the president might not retain the parliamentary majority he had last time. Since the two governors have declared their interest to contest presidency in 2022, their support for the re-election of President Kenyatta also doesn't bind them to support Uhuru's preferred successor in that election.
Focus is also in Ukambani where MCC party is facing fiercest battle with former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper Democratic Movement-Kenya who see him as dishonest for ditching the party which sponsored him to become Governor and joining opponent-Jubilee. It is to be seen how Dr Mutua’s party will perform in the eight constituencies of Machakos County as well as in Kitui and Makueni counties.
In Rift Valley, Baringo Senator Gideon Moi’s Kanu and Chama Cha Mashinani headed by Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto are likely to benefit the most, as they plan to field candidates in all positions which would deny Deputy President William Ruto getting majority of elected legislators under Jubilee Party. Unlike MCC and PNU, Kanu and CCM are yet to declare their choice for President, but they are expected to back Uhuru.
A similar movement has been witnessed in the opposition CORD and National Super Alliance (NASA) coalitions but nothing on scale being witnessed in Jubilee. Some CORD leaders, like former deputy speaker of the National Assembly Farah, have moved from one party in the coalition to another.
It is expected that many more aspirants will win on small parties in this election compared to 2013. Even though the small parties benefiting from defections are allied either to Jubilee Party or NASA, there is no binding agreement to support the political divide after the elections, therefore throwing the spanner into the works.