President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee party will on February 25 and 26 formalise the divorce in the irretrievably broken political marriage between him and Deputy President William Ruto.
The DP is not invited to the divorce proceedings at the two-day Jubilee National Delegates Conference (NDC), which also intends to sever ties with his United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
In this exclusive interview, Jubilee Coalition Joint Parliamentary Group Secretary Adan Keynan reveals details of the two-day Jubilee NDC, states why the party plans to formalise working with Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) even as he rules out ceding the running mate slot to the Kalonzo Musyoka-led One Kenya Alliance (OKA), should the alliance join Azimio la Umoja.
Q: What are the expectations in the upcoming Jubilee National Delegates Convention (NDC)?
A: It is a requirement of our party constitution that the party holds a national delegates conference every five years. In keeping with this obligation, we will review our performance as the ruling party and as sitting government, and lay strategies to advance the development track record beyond the current administration. We will also rebrand, reinvigorate and revitalise and reorganise Jubilee as a party to secure its place in the next government.
Q: Is the party likely to approve ODM leader Raila Odinga as its preferred presidential candidate, based on the coalition talks with him?
A: The President as party leader and the delegates will provide the way forward on this issue.
Q: Is Deputy President William Ruto and his troops likely to be shown the door?
A: I have always said civility is not cowardice; but there comes a time when patience runs out. Something’s certainly got to give at the NDC. The Jubilee National Management Committee sat sometime in October 2020, and resolved to institute disciplinary action against all party renegades. We upheld that decision at the National Executive Committee level, with a rider that there must not be any sacred cows when that decision is eventually executed. Our delegates have the final word on this matter, and at the NDC, we will be tabling that report for their action.
Q: What’s the impact of that if it happens, just a few months to the polls?
A: Choices have consequences. For the disobedience of our party leader, and disloyalty to the party and party organs, our delegates will give a verdict on the fate of the so-called renegades. We shall not be responsible for whatever other consequence that follows the NDC verdict.
Q: Will the party then push for his resignation as DP on that account?
A: Just like all Jubilee members are bound by the party constitution, every Kenyan has an obligation to the Kenyan Constitution. Party discipline is a critical facet of the sanctity of our democracy, I believe respect of the party constitution that put one in power is a part of this obligation, and any violation of the same is sufficient for any Kenyan to seek recourse, including instituting disciplinary action against the said individual.
Q: Why is the party holding its NDC for two days?
A: As indicated in the notice of the NDC, which we publicised in the media, there are several critical agendas, to be exhaustively deal with. We have ample time in the two days to deal with all the items.
Q: ODM also holds its NDC on the same dates. Why the coincidence?
A: Well, I can only speak for Jubilee, but this coincidence creates a perfect environment to synchronise our own 2022 polls strategy with that of ODM; which has been a dependable partner for the past four years. We are strategising to advance this partnership into a formidable all-inclusive national coalition to form the next government.
Q: Do you expect the renegades who have joined UDA to attend the meeting?
A: Since publication of the NDC notice, we have received messages from some of the said renegades, indicating their intention to return home. We welcome all that are ready to reaffirm their commitment and loyalty to the party. We are rebuilding a formidable Jubilee Party that will take the August 9 polls by storm. Watch his space.
Q: Which guests do you expect at your NDC?
A: We are drafting the list of special guest and friends, which we will make public in due course.
Q: Will Jubilee party leader – President Uhuru Kenyatta join ODM leader Raila Odinga’s fete at Nyayo stadium?
A: That is entirely up to the President. However, I see nothing wrong with the President attending Odinga’s unveiling as the Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate if our delegates approve him as our candidate. This is the season of coalition making and Mr Kenyatta as our party leader is empowered by our constitution and the goodwill of party members to do all that it takes to secure Jubilee’s place in the next government.
Q: The Jubilee Party is viewed by many of its members as “dead and buried”. Do you think it’s possible to resuscitate it with just six months to the elections and for it to make an impact?
A: We are the ruling party, the majority party in the two houses of Parliament and we have majority governors as well as members of county assemblies nationally. This means we have majority support across the country, coupled with our robust grassroots network nationally. Clearly, Jubilee will be the party to beat across all elective contests.
Q: Why then is it not producing a presidential candidate in the August 9 General Election?
A: This is a strategic decision we have had to make, putting the country first. As the saying goes, there comes a time when the nation is more important than any individual or entity. We have shelved presidential ambitions in the party, in the spirit of national reconciliation and inclusivity as advanced by our party leader through his handshake with the former Prime Minister, and as elaborately espoused in the nine-point agenda that the two leaders agreed upon under the Building Bridges Initiative. By so doing, we are progressive players in the advancement of the quest to mature our democracy and advance good government that is responsive to the needs and unity of our people.
Q: Will Jubilee field candidates in all other positions – governor, senator, woman reps, MPs and MCAs across the country or this will be done jointly under the Azimio banner?
A: As the Jubilee Party our target is to have majority parliamentary seats, governors and members of county assembly. We will capitalise on all these seats within our strongholds; but we also plan to reach agreements with our coalition partners who will exclusively field candidates within their strongholds. We will have a separate plan for cosmopolitan electoral units, to field candidates under the coalition party banner, thanks to the recent amendments to the Political Parties Act.
Q: What plans do you have for Nairobi?
A: Broadly, Nairobi falls under the cosmopolitan category, but within the county we also have diverse strongholds for Jubilee and other parties under the Azimio la Umoja banner. We will use known party strengths and scientific study to decide where to go the coalition party route, and where to field candidates on our respective parties.
Q: Are there conditions Jubilee has placed on its partner — ODM for backing Mr Odinga?
A: I will not call them conditions but working formulae within the coalition arrangement with ODM and all other coalition partners. The arrangement must be a win-win situation that guarantees Jubilee a realistic stake in the next government.
Q: The information out there is that Jubilee wants to produce Mr Odinga’s running mate and also be allowed to produce the Nairobi gubernatorial candidate under Azimio, is this so?
A: Obviously as currently the biggest political party nationally, we can only settle for the deputy president post if we are not producing the presidential candidate. The Nairobi governorship will be central to the success of the national government projects in the capital. We, thus, as Jubilee, have an interest for the sole reason of advancing the transformation witnessed in the capital during the past three years of city administration’s co-operation with the national government.
Q: Who would the party back for Mr Odinga’s running mate among these leaders; Peter Kenneth, governors Lee Kinyanjui and Ndiritu Muriithi as well as Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya?
A: All of these are credible, highly qualified Kenyans that merit for the running mate post. However, a decision on this subject will be a product of a deep and extensive consultative process to get the best man or woman for the job.
Q: Why does Jubilee want President Kenyatta to remain as party leader even after his retirement?
A: Jubilee Party was conceptualised as a movement, transcending the political contests that come every five years. The President ranks highest in political hierarchy of the party, and still boasts of physical and mental fortitude to steer the party’s course in keeping with the Jubilee vision from inception. We will, in this election, change the perception of political parties being mere wagons to leadership that must fold when the next election beckons. We are retaining the ideological identity of the party as Jubilee and revitalising it under the President’s leadership to advance the current economic transformation to the next administration.
Q: Is he waiting to occupy a government position after retirement, say prime minister, should the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) be revived after election as he and Mr Odinga have promised?
A: This is a product of the false narratives being advanced by our political detractors to tarnish the name of Jubilee and our party leader. At no time has the President alluded that the BBI was about reserving himself a position after retirement.
Q: Are you courting OKA to join Azimio? Which positions are you putting on the table?
A: Like ODM, the OKA team have been strategic political allies, and we welcome them to Azimio. They too have expressed willingness to work with us and our doors are open to all other likeminded partners who legitimately subscribe to our national unity and economic transformation agenda.
Q: Can Jubilee cede ground for running mate in favour of OKA?
A: That’s impossible. As currently stands, Jubilee is the biggest political party under the Azimio la Umoja banner. We have already ceded ground on the presidency. Naturally we can only settle for the number 2 slot.
Q: Why do you think Jubilee entrusted you with the position of coalition joint parliamentary group secretary?
A: This position is listed on Section 7 of the Jubilee Party constitution on composition and duties of party organs. The role of my office is to enhance consultation and build synergy between the two Houses of Parliament and the party. In the developed world, like the United States, the position of parliamentary group secretary is actually the most important post in parliamentary leadership, particularly in streamlining legislation and government policy with the party manifesto.
I am a ranking member, now serving my fourth term as member of Parliament, and I believe I merited the position on account of my vast governance and leadership track record. I must applaud the wisdom of the Jubilee Parliamentary Group for settling on my name as the inaugural Jubilee coalition JP secretary.
Q: What’s your track record in that position?
A: By the time of my appointment, there was a false narrative in Parliament that all Asal and pastoralist members of Parliament were under the control of the political opponents of this government. During my tenure, most have reaffirmed their support to Jubilee, and by extension, the handshake formation under President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.
Through the consultative network we have built between the Majority Leadership of both Houses, we have enhanced coordination of oversight and passage of critical bills transcending both Houses. You saw this synergy in the passage of the BBI bill, and recently, the Political Parties Amendment Bill, and better coordination for legislations that end up before mediation committees on account of amendments from either house of Parliament.
Q: What’s your parting shot?
A: Well this year presents Kenyans with yet another destiny-shaping moment, by picking the right leadership across all electoral levels to advance policies that will advance economic transformation and buttress our place as the hub of democracy, peace and good governance on the continent.
Let’s exercise that right prudently and with sobriety. Use this opportunity to elect good leaders whose policies will be people-oriented, to sustain the economic transformation momentum started by the Kibaki government and progressed by the Uhuru administration.