Ruto-linked ‘wheelbarrow’ party gears up for epic 2022 elections - Beaking Kenya News

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Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Ruto-linked ‘wheelbarrow’ party gears up for epic 2022 elections

 

One of the political parties associated with Deputy President William Ruto Monday applied to change its name and adopt the wheelbarrow symbol popular with his “hustler” movement in what may be an indication of which political vehicle he will use in the 2022 elections.

In a Kenya Gazette notice, The Party for Development and Reforms (PDR) wants to rebrand to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and change its symbol from a bull to a wheelbarrow.

The wheelbarrow has become a symbol for the DP’s empowerment narrative, though critics say the youth need digital skills not “outdated” tools.

It also wants to change its slogan from ‘mabadiliko na ustawi’ to ‘kazi ni kazi’.

“Any person with written submissions concerning the intended changes by the political party shall within seven (7) days from the date of this publication, deposit them with the Registrar of Political Parties,” reads the notice.

Efforts to get a comment from the DP’s spokesman on the party were futile as he did not return messages.

However, three sources in the Deputy President’s camp confirmed they are behind the party and would use UDA and other political vehicles to contest in upcoming by-elections in Nairobi, Machakos, Bungoma and Kakamega.

Northern region

Former Machakos senator Johnson Muthama has been proposed as the party chairman.

The party’s yellow colour reflects those of DP Ruto’s United Republican Party(URP) that joined with TNA and other parties to form the ruling Jubilee party before the 2017 elections.

Sources indicated that PDR, the predecessor of UDA, was a party for the northern region fronted by Ruto allies as a fall-back political vehicle before 2017 polls in case Jubilee merger did not work out.

One of its elected members is Wajir Woman Rep Fatuma Gedi. Before she joined Parliament in 2017, Ms Gedi was the URP Women League boss from 2014 to 2016.

She has since decamped from the DP’s Tangatanga faction in Jubilee to the President’s Kieleweke camp.

The Ruto team also has four other parties registered that maybe rebranded just in case they are blocked from using the UDA.

Freedom of expression

They have also been spreading their risks in recent by-elections, a strategy that has worked in some areas and backfired in others.

DP allies used the People’s Empowerment Party in Gaturi (Murang’a) led by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and the New Democrats party in Nakuru.

Others like Mwangi Kiunjuri’s The Service Party are also aligned with the Deputy President.

“Jubilee has lost direction and become an appendage of ODM. They are pursuing unpopular policies which makes it hard to vie on the party next time,” said an MP from Mt Kenya who did not want to be quoted to avoid punishment by Jubilee.

Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata said he is not aware of the party but wished them luck. “Kenya provides for freedom of expression and association,” he said.

The Ruto team wants to stick in Jubilee by name only and plan a mass walkout to the chosen party six months to the 2022 elections.

Crackdown fears

A Rift Valley MP told the Nation that many lawmakers fear a State crackdown or forced by-elections if they come out of Jubilee earlier than that.

But small parties also fear that a Ruto push to join his political vehicle may diminish their influence on the ground and may render them moribund like it happened to parties that joined Jubilee before the 2017 elections.

Many want the 2007 or 2013 model where each party presented candidates for all seats except the presidency, where they supported President Kibaki and Mr Kenyatta respectively.

Jubilee has been on a slow burn since the March 2018 ‘Handshake’ between Mr Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, which seems to have sidelined the DP and threatened his ambition for the top seat.

Mr Kenyatta has accused his deputy of being fixated on 2022 polls while the DP insists the handshake derailed Jubilee’s development agenda.

If the DP leaves Jubilee, the party will join a list of political parties whose glory has faded despite ruling for years. They include Narc, Party of National Unity, TNA and independence party, Kanu.

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