President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has set a March 2018 deadline to isolate Nasa leader Raila Odinga from his co-principals in a two-pronged approach of government appointments and a divide-and-rule approach.
The Jubilee Party is aggressively reaching out to Nasa co-principals Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka for a proposal to be included in government, with various lieutenants in Mr Odinga’s ODM camp also being targeted.
The ruling party is also working to portray ODM as the bully in the opposition coalition with the aim of convincing the weaker parties to walk out of the coalition.
LOYALTY TO RAILA
Mr Mudavadi has said that he has been approached to switch allegiance.
“Some leaders in Jubilee are pleading with me to abandon the reform train,” Mr Mudavadi said in a statement shared by his party on Tuesday.
According to him, the Jubilee leaders were asking him to slow down his support for Mr Odinga.
“(They are saying) that I should calm down; let them get on the gravy train,” Mr Mudavadi said, warning, “They don’t know what steel I am made of.
"This is my New Year message to them; let me assure you I cannot jump off this electoral justice reform train into an empty cattle carriage,” he said.
That Jubilee would want to scuttle the opposition has not been in doubt, with various leaders the Daily Nation spoke to saying they have been reaching out to the ‘good apples’ in Nasa, by which they meant Nasa leaders who are not perceived as diehard party supporters.
National Assembly Public Accounts Committee chair Opiyo Wandayi said that while Nasa may not stop the Jubilee overtures, it will, in the end, emerge stronger.
“What Jubilee is doing, reaching out and trying to buy everyone, is not out of their character.
"What they want is to have a monolithic State, and they think Kenya should not even be a multiparty,” Mr Wandayi, also the Ugunja MP, said.
“But this pro-reform movement is so huge that even if they manage to get a few people, they will be quickly replaced by young, more energetic ones.”
Without disputing the March deadline, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale argued that it is Mr Odinga’s co-principals in the opposition who have that time to decide whether the former Prime Minister will retire from politics.
According to him, Mr Odinga’s retirement package was ready.
“We have no political intention, but his Nasa principals have up to March to decide on his political retirement or if he is running in 2022. That decision is important to them more than it is to Jubilee,” he said on the phone.
He said Jubilee had no agenda for either Raila or Nasa.
“We expect them to keep Jubilee in check as per their mandate. For Raila, the retirement package is in place for him to enjoy as provided for in the Deputy President and other State Officers Retirement Act, 2012.”
A Jubilee member who sought anonymity said the March date is in place and that the decision by diplomats to recognise President Kenyatta’s victory in the October election had played a big part in the plan.
“The idea is to ensure that by March, Nasa has been split and Raila is isolated. There are many ways of achieving the target,” he said.
After the annulment of the August 8 presidential election, Jubilee reached out to Opposition leaning leaders including former Kajiado governor David Nkedianye, Vihiga ANC candidate for governor Yusuf Chanzu, former Taita-Taveta governor John Mruttu and the Wiper candidate in the race for Mombasa governorship Omar Hassan, among others.
The ruling party has now turned to elected leaders with the intention of wooing them to shift allegiance.
In the National Assembly, Jubilee leaders ganged up against other Nasa affiliate party candidates for watchdog committees as part of a tactic to paint ODM as a bully within the Opposition.
The plan appears to have worked, since Mr Mudavadi’s ANC publicly protested after losing the Public Accounts Committee and Public Investments Committee chairmanship to Mr Wandayi and his Mvita counterpart, Mr Abdulswamad Nassir, both from ODM.
Narok South’s Moitalel ole Kenta, also of ODM, was elected chairman of the committee on implementation.
All these led to disquiet within ANC and Wiper.
A constant push-and-pull about whether or not Mr Odinga should be sworn in as the people’s president has further helped Jubilee’s cause.
“This swearing-in by Raila will do nothing but embarrass him and our supporters,” Lugari MP Ayub Savula of ANC said. Mr Odinga’s swearing-in is slated for Eldoret on Sunday.
“I wonder why he is still thinking of things such as taking an oath. Let him do better things, including cleaning his own house where we have very many complaints.”
Although ANC distanced itself from Mr Savula’s sentiments, such talk has been gaining traction.
However, Mr Odinga has stuck to his guns, saying he will push on with the swearing-in.
“We are not talking about tokenism. We have said we are not interested in nusu mkate (euphemism for coalition government),” Mr Odinga told a local television station on Tuesday when asked what kind of dialogue he wanted with Jubilee.
“We have managed to open the server, and it shows that we won by over one million votes,” Mr Odinga said.
“That is what we will use to swear in.”