President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday threw his weight behind the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) in the latest indication yet that plans to merge parties under the ruling coalition are on, ahead of the 2017 General Election.
Under the plan which has come under scrutiny from members of constituent parties, The National Alliance and the United Republican Party will be collapsed into a single entity to be known as Jubilee Alliance Party, which has already been registered.
Yesterday, Uhuru dismissed its critics, maintaining that the time has come for political parties under the ruling coalition to fold up and pave way for the single party. The President said parties that are now part of Jubilee should start gearing up to join JAP.
In March this year JAP was left licking its wounds after it lost in the Kajiado Central by-election despite President Uhuru leading campaigns for its candidate Patrick Tutui. ODM’s Elijah Memusi beat Tutui by 500 votes, raising questions over JAP’s strategy.
However, President Uhuru’s preferred political party redeemed itself, scoring two victories later in May when its candidates won the Kabete parliamentary and Oloolua civic seats.
Former Embakasi MP, Ferdinand Waititu, the Jubilee Alliance Party candidate, won in Kabete with a landslide, making a comeback in the National Assembly. Leadership positions President Uhuru and his deputy, William Ruto, have hailed the plan to merge their parties before the 2017 elections.
Uhuru spoke yesterday when he met 300 Jubilee delegates from Mombasa and tipped them on how to ensure a smooth transition to JAP. His fresh call is likely to face an acid test as members of affiliate parties contest for JAP party positions.
The President said the best way is to share JAP leadership positions among political parties that comprise the alliance. “Officials of every branch should comprise leaders from all the parties that make the main party,” said the President.
But the president’s advice may seem to be a meandering road given the fact that already several branches, such as Nyeri, Nairobi and Nakuru have been rocked by leadership wrangles resulting from the merger plan.
In Nairobi, Starehe MP Maina Kamanda is locked in a tiff with his predecessor Bishop Margaret Wanjiru over JAP leadership in the city, with the former accusing the latter of hijacking it.
The President urged the delegates to attract more supporters for the party and not oppose the inclusion of people from other parties in government. “We have good faith and that is why we give jobs to people from other parties,” the Head of State said. Uhuru said: “Politics is a game of numbers.
Every politician should understand that there is no other route to winning an election but more votes.” The President asked the delegates to take up responsibility in ensuring that the economy of Mombasa is turned around. He said Mombasa’s economy is also important for the success of Kenya and the whole region.
“If Mombasa county succeeds, the whole country will succeed and the whole region will benefit because Mombasa is the gateway to the whole region,” he said.
President Uhuru also asked leaders from the region to help women and youth in getting government tenders. He said the first step is to educate women and youth on the processes to follow in tendering for contracts. The President told leaders to inform him if women and youth find it difficult to access government tenders.
“Of the money set aside for these tenders, not even a third has been spent. We want to see that money spent,” said the President. The Head of State also warned those in charge of ministries and other government agencies to ensure women and youth are awarded their rightful share of State tenders.
“If you do not want to open the gates (for women and youth to government business), you will have to get out of the way because there are many other people who can do your job,” he said.