The battle for UDA party leadership positions in Nairobi County is expected to produce fireworks as rival camps take on each other. Sources say Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja is eyeing the position of deputy party leader. Initially, the party only had one post of deputy party leader, which was reserved for Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, but following the amendment to the party’s constitution, two extra positions of deputy party leaders were created, and Sakaja is being tipped for one of them. Some people also believe that the creation of two extra positions was meant to weaken Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and minimize his influence in the party
Seasoned politicians allied to the United Democratic Movement (UDA) party are burning the midnight oil and plotting how to win the party’s top leadership positions at the forthcoming party elections in December. Some of them have already formed campaign teams whose main task is to register many people as party members, who will in turn elect delegates for the planned elections in two months.
The battle for leadership positions in Nairobi County is expected to produce fireworks as rival camps take on each other, almost similar to what was witnessed during the last general elections. Sources say Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja is eyeing the position of deputy party leader. Initially, the party had only one deputy party leader, a position that was reserved for Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, but following the amendment to the party’s constitution, two more positions of deputy party leaders were created, and Sakaja is being tipped for one of them.
It might not be a walk in the park for him, however, as some people believe that the creation of the two extra positions was meant to weaken Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and minimize his influence in the party. Analysts now opine that the creation of the new positions is a strategy by President Ruto to reward some of his preferred politicians with positions of power and also checkmate his deputy.
Aware that those to be elected in December will be in charge of the office until after the next general elections, President Ruto is keen to take full control of the party heading into the next elections. It is for this reason that the people to fill the newly created positions must be trusted loyalists to President Ruto.
Governor Sakaja has been a William Ruto loyalist and confidante who must land one of the top positions in the party. It remains to be seen, however, how he will operate alongside DP Gachagua since the two do not see eye to eye. It’s probably Ruto’s strategy to send an early warning to Gachagua that Sakaja is his main man.
Another politician angling for a top position in the party is former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, who, sources say, is also interested in one of the deputy party leaders or Secretary General’s posts. His main focus now, sources say, is to use the forthcoming party elections to test his popularity in Nairobi politics. He is busy lobbying his supporters across the political divide to register en masse as UDA party members in readiness for the forthcoming elections. He has confided in some of his allies that he will be back in Nairobi politics should his appeal to the East African Court of Justice succeed.
Sonko’s game plan is to test his political popularity ahead of the 2027 elections, and he could also go for the Secretary General’s seat currently held by Cleophas Malala, who is in office in an acting capacity. Word has it that President Ruto has been warned against retaining Malala as SG; they argue that he is not up to the task. He is said to be arrogant and intimidating towards fellow politicians, including senior politicians like Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula.
In fact, according to analysts, the speed and arrogance with which Malala has been operating have done more harm to the party than good. Sources say his appointment was to bring on board the Luhya nation, but he has failed to do so and instead has fallen out with key Luhya leaders. Analysts now say that in a free and fair election, Malala cannot defeat Sonko for the party’s SG’s position. But the big question is: does Sonko have what it takes to be the UDA Secretary General?
In terms of mobilization and the mere fact that Sonko enjoys support not only in Nairobi, he has noticeable support that cuts across the political, religious, and ethnic inclinations. That is what is lacking in Malala, who is not known beyond the borders of Kakamega County, or Luhya Nation, for that matter. Analysts opine that if UDA has only two candidates for the SG post and that it has to be either Sionko or Malala, then Sonko will carry the day.