President had hinted at changes to Constitution just before Christmas

Wednesday March 18 2020

Supporters of Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga protest the elections results in Kibera, Nairobi, on August 11, 2017. PHOTO | COLLINS OMULO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Jubilee has never publicly admitted to having constitutional amendments as a key facet on which it planned to run the 2017 re-election campaign.

Just before Christmas, however, President Kenyatta hinted at being in favour of changes that would enhance “inclusivity”.

“We said we must look at this issue of winner-takes-all. If that is why some people feel left out of government, we must ask ourselves: ‘Is this good or not?’” Mr Kenyatta said when he launched a pilot project on the universal healthcare programme in Kisumu.

Although the strategy had been prepared in 2015 and later shelved, recent political developments suggest a faction in Jubilee pursuing it with support from the opposition.


The resignation of Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe marks the latest move towards its formalisation.

In its internal evaluation in 2015, the party found it only enjoyed the support of 42 per cent of Kenyans after losing some of the ground it won in 2013. It also concluded that it had not brought new supporters on board and that was unlikely to change “in the coming few months”.

This was in reference to the run-up to the 2017 elections.

As the polls loomed, strategists said the party could not sell continuity to Kenyans and, hence, “must make a pitch for something drastically new to the country’s governance structure if elected for a second term”.

The paper says this would involve splitting the presidency, creating the office of the prime minister and recruiting cabinet secretaries from parliamentarians.

“Jubilee can promise a more inclusive presidency. This can be achieved by restructuring the presidency to include two or three deputies and a prime minister. This will attract more people into the coalition that Jubilee will enter into. The more the positions, the more the government is likely to be representative and can genuinely promise inclusivity, which people are clamouring for,” the paper reads.


It is significant to note that "inclusivity" has since become the byword for the Building Bridges Initiative and the rationale behind the March 9 handshake.

To achieve the changes, the document proposed reaching out to the opposition then.

“The government can involve and agree with Cord on the possibility of amending the Constitution to effect the proposed structure of the presidency,” the paper says.

This was in part for self-perpetuation as the assessment painted bleak prospects for Jubilee re-election.

“Without bold and drastic measures, Jubilee as currently structured, would garner less than 50 per cent +1 to win the constitutional threshold in the first round, leading to a runoff," the paper, titled "The Political Situation", said.

Despite the elections being two years away, the paper anticipated Jubilee facing stiff opposition and endangering President Kenyatta’s re-election chances.

It proposed small regional parties being indirectly supported. In northern Kenya, parties allied to Jubilee were formed.


“Voters in Jubilee strongholds of Rift Valley and Mt Kenya total about 42 per cent. This is not enough and provides a high possibility of a runoff. The coalition as structured will gain less than 50 per cent +1 in the first round,” it went on.

Jubilee eventually won with 54 per cent of the presidential vote in a politically charged August 8, 2017 election.

The National Super Alliance (Nasa) successfully petitioned the Supreme Court for a repeat poll. Mr Odinga, then the Nasa candidate, boycotted the October 26 repeat, demanding electoral reforms.

To end the resulting paralysis, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga closed ranks with the handshake and launched the Building Bridges Initiative, which aims at ending the cycle of instability during every election.