Though many are not ready to admit it or say it out loud, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s the Jubilee Party is actually facing a crisis in it backyards of Central and Rift Valley. Thanks to the new law that does not allow the losers of party primaries to move to other parties, the Jubilee Party is set to find itself between a rock and a hard place.
The anti-party hopping bill means that candidates that fall short of securing the nomination will not move to other parties to contest the election. This can spell disaster for Jubilee because the supporters of the candidate that lost will not feel compelled to vote on Election Day, therefore denying the presidential candidate votes.
This calls on the Jubilee Party to relook at its strategy for the Presidential poll and how to incorporate everyone. The party may need to sit down with other parties in Central and Rift Valley that may attract candidates who feel they cannot compete in the Jubilee Party primaries.
It may be prudent for Jubilee to start working with PNU, Kanu and Chama Cha Mashinani to ensure that the Presidential vote is secure regardless of which party other supporters of Uhuru decide to vie on in 2017.
In fact, this cooperation will not only help with the Presidential vote but will also ease the formation of a majority in Parliament after the election in case the Jubilee Party does not get majority seats. Presidents, across the world, who have had a minority in Parliament, have always struggled to push through some of their policies and laws.
Lack of a majority in Parliament can cripple the Presidency, however popular it is, as a majority opposition can easily cripple government business in both houses. A stinger opposition makes it hard for the government legislators to deliver even on the best policies aimed for the benefit of the nation.
One thing is clear, PNU, Kanu and CCM are not opposed to the Jubilee Party Presidential candidate, President Uhuru Kenyatta. They just want to be respected as distinct parties that should be allowed to field their own candidates at the other levels other than the Presidency, which they have no candidates for.
If you look at a County like Meru, the top current leadership – Senator Kiraitu Murungi and Governor Peter Munya – are all going for the Governor’s seat come 2017. If they both go for Jubilee Party nominations, there can only be one winner with the loser and his supporters feeling disfranchised.
Even looking at the 2013 election, while the people of Nyeri County were fully behind President Uhuru Kenyatta, they made a different choice for Governor by voting for Nderitu Gacagua who was in GNU and not TNA. There are other multiple examples in the Rift Valley where many supported TNA and URP at the top but gave other positions to Kanu candidates such as Baringo Senator Gideon Moi.
As an incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta needs every vote from his support base and therefore, Jubilee Party should not treat Kanu, CCM and PNU as enemies but more as partners to get that vote. Supporters of rival candidates among Jubilee, PNU, Kanu and CCM should feel that they are obligated to vote for Uhuru even when they have a choice at other elective posts.
Nominations are a tricky bit of any election for any political party and though Jubilee is focused on a free and fair process, there will always be disgruntled aspirants and supporters.
So to avoid, a mechanical voter apathy that results from the nominations, I suggest that Jubilee, PNU, CCM and Kanu, which are all willing to support Uhuru, to sit down together and work on how to secure a clear win for the President. The four parties can agree on competing against each other at the other levels and working together after the elections.
(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)