March mini polls a litmus test for unity in Tangatanga - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 21 February 2021

March mini polls a litmus test for unity in Tangatanga


How Deputy President William Ruto handles the internal rivalry within his Tangatanga-affiliated parties ahead of the March 4 and March 23 by-elections will determine whether the parties will coalesce into one major outfit to back his 2022 presidential bid or will do so as independent parties.

Tangatanga is an amorphous political faction within the Jubilee Party supporting DP Ruto’s bid to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta when his term comes to an end in 2022.

While there is no dispute over the recently launched United Democratic Alliance (UDA) fielding candidates in the by-elections, opinion is divided whether UDA should opt out of the five ward polls in favour of its affiliates in the large Tangatanga grouping.

UDA, previously Party for Development and Reforms (PDR) before the recent relaunch, is in an existing coalition with the ruling Jubilee Party and is directly associated with DP Ruto.

The Machakos County senatorial by-election to be held on March 23 as per the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) gazette notice, has UDA’s Urbanus Ngengele flying the “hustler” flag.

The IEBC has also gazetted March 3 as the date for the mini polls in Matungu and Kabuchai constituencies as well as in the five wards in Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Kisii and Makueni counties.

UDA, chaired by former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, has Alex Lanya in Matungu competing against David Were (ODM) and Peter Nabulindo (ANC), among other candidates, including independents seeking to fill the void left by Justus Murunga, who died last year.

In Kabuchai Constituency of Bungoma County, UDA has Evans Masinde against Ford Kenya’s Majimbo Simiyu and Amos Wekesa of Federal Party of Kenya, among others, seeking to replace James Mukwe who also died late last year.

ODM has no candidate in the Kabuchai mini poll.

Other than the senatorial and constituency elections, the UDA party also has interests at the ward level.

Yesterday, Mr Muthama was unequivocal that UDA will field candidates in all the contestable seats across the country in 2022 and that the coming by-elections will not be an exception.

“We are not in any coalition agreement with any party other than the Jubilee Party. We are supporting all the UDA candidates in the mini polls. We will also issue certificates to all the candidates in any elective seat in the republic whenever there is an election,” said Mr Muthama.

Mr Muthama’s comments are likely to irk People’s Empowerment Party (PEP), a Tangatanga affiliate party that is associated with Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.

PEP is adamant that it will field candidates in all the five ward mini polls.

Ward seats

PEP and other Tangatanga affiliated parties were of the opinion that with UDA going for the Senatorial and constituency seats, it “is only prudent” that it leaves the ward seats for its affiliates.

Yesterday Mr Kuria said whether UDA ‘squares out’ with its Tangatanga affiliates in the forthcoming ward elections or not, is not the “most important thing”.

“As the Tangatanga parties, we support the ‘hustler nation’ movement led by the Deputy President. In the unlikely event that we fail to form one major outfit, then the affiliate parties will support the ‘hustler’ movement independently,” he said.

A close ally of the DP, who did not want to go on record, said that at no time has the Tangatanga allied parties sat down to agree on how to field candidates in the coming mini polls.

“Only a formal agreement will be able to guide us forward. There should be no fear, let us compete fairly as ‘hustler’ parties because we have a common objective of supporting the DP to the State House,” the man said.

When reached for comment, The Service Party (TSP) leader Mwangi Kiunjuri, a close ally of DP Ruto, said every party in the country is now trying to build itself including using the mini polls ahead of the 2022 General Election.

“Competition is healthy,” Mr Kiunjuri said, noting, “right now it is too early to talk about coalitions”.

“When the time comes for a coalition, there will be formal processes,” he added.

Coalition arrangement

TSP has been in existence for two years now and has already concluded its grassroots mobilisation exercise across the country and will soon conduct grassroots elections.

The former Agriculture Cabinet secretary also reiterated that TSP would not dissolve itself to support any other candidate but will only favour a coalition arrangement as it fields candidates in the available elective positions across the country in the 2022 General Election.

But even as Mr Muthama and Mr Kiunjuri spoke, the battleground within the Tangatanga allied parties in the mini polls will be in the London Ward of Nakuru Town West Constituency.

The ward has three horses affiliated to the ‘hustler’ movement- Joseph Gitahi (TSP), Anthony Nzuki (UDA), and Bernard Kariuki (PEP) against Jubilee’s Francis Njogu, the former area MCA.

Mr Stephen Adhoch of ODM is also in the race as is Fravian Wacira of ANC.

The Sunday Nation has established that the UDA brigade wants PEP to withdraw its candidate in favour of their own, a move that has not gone down well within the PEP fraternity.

“They cannot have seats at the senatorial and constituency level and still want to come and frustrate us at the ward level. We shall vigorously campaign for our candidates,” a PEP official who did not want to go on record said.

The Hell’s Gate Ward election in Naivasha Constituency is also another battleground for the Tangatanga affiliates against Vigina Gicanga (Jubilee Party) and Rodrick Kirui (ANC).

The main Tangatanga affiliated candidates to watch in the election are Jonathan Warothe (UDA), former area MCA and Othman Kimani (PEP).

Huruma Ward of DP Ruto’s home constituency of Turbo in Uasin Gishu, UDA has no candidate.

Ms Lucy Njoroge, who had been publicly endorsed by DP Ruto to carry the UDA flag, defected to the Jubilee Party. By Daily nation  

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