By The Weekly Vision Team
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, who is believed to be holding brief for DP Rigathi Gachagua as far as UDA party matters are concerned, convened a Nyeri County UDA party caucus, where the majority of the elected leaders and interim party officials attended. The meeting had only one main agenda item on the menu, to tell the UDA party national leadership that the Nyeri branch would only participate in the forthcoming party elections slated for December if the conditions they had set were not met.
The meeting, according to sources, was well planned to send warning signals to President William Ruto that Nyeri County is ready and willing to boycott the elections if their concerns are not addressed before the big day. A critical analysis of the demand directed at the president is that if the UDA party has only one party leader, then the deputy party leader must also be one, not two. They were reacting to proposals that the party should have two deputy party leaders. This move has rattled Mr Gachagua, who believes the president and his inner circle are working on a scheme to dilute the position and give him a co-deputy that will eventually make him share power.
On the eve of the UDA National Delegates Conference at the Bomas of Kenya, one of the main agenda items was to restructure the party hierarchy to create another position of deputy party leader. The matter brought political tensions, with the DP threatening to boycott the NDC. The president had to eat the humble pie and withdrew that agenda, but sources say it has resurfaced again with the president’s allies insisting that new positions for two deputy party leaders must be created ostensibly to checkmate the DP.
Already, several names are being mentioned as possible candidates for the position, with Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja being seen as a potential deputy party leader. Another ultimatum Nyeri UDA party leaders gave the president before they could take part in the December polls was that the position of secretary general should be reserved for a person from the Mount Kenya region. The current acting secretary general, Clephas Malala, is from western Kenya and was handpicked by President Ruto.
Although there have been no politicians from the mountain who have come out to demand the position, sources say the DP wants to take control of the affairs of the party by having his close ally elected the party’s secretary general. President Ruto, on the other hand, understands the power the holder of that office wields in a party’s political set-up and may not let it go. Although there is pressure from different quarters to have Malala replaced, sources say Ruto has yet to identify a candidate suitable to replace him.
There are speculations that if pressure is too much on Malala to quit, Ruto might as well have Sakaja as the party’s SG and get another suitable candidate to checkmate the DP as deputy party leader. Kakamega Senator Bonny Khalwale is also said to be angling for either the position of deputy party leader or secretary general. Khalwale is a close ally of Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi. He has publicly attacked both Gachagua and Malala in the past. Pundits say when Khalwale speaks, it is Mudavadi speaking.
Considering that Ruto has a soft spot for Mudavadi as far as the 2027 elections are concerned, they could both push Khalwale to be UDA’s deputy party leader or secretary general to checkmate the DP.