Jubilee hits restart button after humiliating defeats

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has now unveiled a 45-day rejuvenation marathon following a series of losses, including in his Mt Kenya backyard.

While a push to remove top secretariat officials, including secretary-general Raphael Tuju and vice-chairman David Murathe, appears to have been shelved, the party has set itself a 45-day deadline to regain the ground it has lost in the last few years.

Besides reviving all its county and constituency offices, the party plans a retreat for leaders allied to the President, as well as rolling out grassroots offices that will help drive the recruitment the National Management Committee ratified on Monday.

Party deputy secretary-general Joshua Kutuny said the new county offices will be a countermeasure against Deputy President William Ruto-linked United Democratic Alliance (UDA), whose offices have been mushrooming across the country with the sole purpose of registering new members.

UDA last week won the Kiambaa by-election at the heart of President Kenyatta’s Kiambu County, just under two months after the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP), also allied to the DP, won the Juja parliamentary seat, also in Kiambu.

“All of us have given ourselves 45 days to strengthen the party and retreat. Part of it is opening new offices, grassroots mobilisation and participation,” Mr Kutuny, who is also Cherang’any MP, told the Nation yesterday.

“We will also have interim officials in all the offices, both at county and constituency level.”

He added: “The party is going to have new officials now that some officials (have left). We might have grassroots elections or harmonisation now that we have managed to get rid of the rebels, from every ward in every constituency to recruit new officials on an interim basis. We have begun shopping for good leaders in those constituencies.”

Robust secretariat

Mr Kutuny said that in order to make the ruling party vibrant as it was in 2017 and avert a possible mass exodus, officials are also restructuring “to have a robust secretariat helped by regional coordinators who will coordinate most activities of the party”.

Eldas MP Adan Keynan, who is also the secretary of the Jubilee Coalition Joint Parliamentary Group, said: “Let us not call it a grassroots election but grassroots rejuvenation and re-energising the party at all levels in our administrative structure.”

The leaders disclosed that they had agreed not to remove the secretariat, arguing that doing so would benefit their opponents in UDA who have hit the ground in intensive grassroots mobilisation in regions that have been Jubilee strongholds.

“We agreed that the party is intact. We understand our internal challenges and we will handle our matters internally. It is only the members who felt that there was no need to fight. We know our weaknesses and we are going to strengthen them,” Mr Kutuny said.

On whether President Kenyatta had reached out to members to stop blame games, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu said it was going to derail their objective, and to curb such occurrence in future, the spirit of continuous consultations has to be embraced.

“The decision to stop the push-and-pull was made by us. It doesn’t serve our interests to fight just when we are starting to rebuild the party,” he said.

“Our unity is our strength at this time and we all agreed that we will work together, meet regularly. And wherever we don’t agree, we will discuss internally and find middle grounds that work for you and everyone.”

Mr Wambugu, a firebrand supporter of the DP also said: “We are also rolling out a series of activities in the grassroots that will include opening up offices that might not currently be functional, replacing officials who have left, and public forums where we engage our members on what they want to see done in the party moving forward.”

Consultations important

In what sounded like accepting that the lack of consultations had been the main undoing of the ruling party, Mr Keynan said managing the party will now not be left in the hands of technocrats alone but a collective responsibility of every person who believes in President Kenyatta’s ideas.

“No removal of anybody. There will be more coherent and focused engagements by the political class in the party by working with the technocrats in rejuvenating the party. More physical roles by politicians in the party activities,” he said.

“We are planning a major retreat to bring all the party decision-makers who are supporting the President,” he said on Thursday

The party has also identified 25 counties where they want to establish active offices that will help with member registration, among other activities meant to give the grassroots a say in the running of the party, a similar strategy used by UDA.

Squabbles started rocking the ruling party when it decided to change members of NMC, which is mandated with the daily operations of the party, a move that DP Ruto and his allies protested, viewing it as a scheme to elbow out Dr Ruto from the helm of the party.

That was followed by the axing of DP Ruto’s key lieutenants from crucial party positions, including Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Aden Duale (Garissa Township), and Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East).

The last standing man at the helm of the party, Caleb Kositany (Soy), was recently fired as the party’s deputy secretary-general and replaced by Mr Kutuny.

The problems escalated when the party decided not to field candidates in recent mini-polls in the spirit of Mr Kenyatta’s handshake with ODM leader Raila Odinga.

That decision was disputed several times by the DP’s side. At one point, Dr Ruto was declared persona non grata at Jubilee’s Pangani headquarters and the leadership, led by party’s Mr Tuju was accused of bravado and dictatorship.

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