The Jubilee-KANU post-election coalition agreement should be interpreted as Uhuru Kenyatta’s uncanny political ‘theory’ in determining who succeeds him in 2022. However, this political deal does not qualify Uhuru Kenyatta as a political maverick but as a circumstantial political nanny attempting to replay Daniel Moi’s political script then christened as Project Uhuru.
Background to the Post-Election Deal
After Uhuru Kenyatta lost the 1997 parliamentary elections to Moses Muhia, the late Daniel Moi appointed him to chair the Kenya Tourism Board in 1999. Later in 2001, Uhuru Kenyatta was nominated as a Member of Parliament after the late Mark Too stepped down, and was appointed as Minister for Local Government.
In March 2002, he was elected as one of the four Vice Chairpersons of KANU in a scheme hatched by the late Daniel arap Moi to have Uhuru Kenyatta as KANU’s flag bearer in the 2002 elections. In 2007, Uhuru’s KANU did not field a presidential candidate but instead supported the reelection of Mwai Kibaki, a position which was also taken by Daniel Moi.
Although KANU was part of the Amani Coalition with the United Democratic Front (UDF) and New FORD-Kenya in the lead up to the 2013 elections, it jumped ship after the polls and signed a post-election deal with the Jubilee Coalition. In the 2017 elections, KANU supported the reelection of Uhuru Kenyatta.
The March 2018 handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga served as the tipping point for the former to fix his Deputy, William Ruto, and lay out plans to elevate the political status of Baringo Senator, Gideon Moi. The handshake is bound to shape Kenya’s political trajectory en route to the 2022 polls. Undoubtedly, the handshake rattled William Ruto’s camp with the anti-handshake brigade opposed to calls for a pre-2022 constitutional referendum whose primary objective is the expansion of the Executive.
A common feature of post-handshake Kenya were the serial visits to the late Daniel Moi’s residence by Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Mama Ngina Kenyatta among others. We need to recall that William Ruto was barred by Gideon Moi from visiting Kenya’s second president at his Kabarak home. The mini-handshakes with the late Daniel Moi could have been about securing the political future of Gideon Moi, who is either an underrated or weak politician.
A few weeks ago, the owners of the Jubilee Party made their intentions known by making changes to the Party’s National Management Committee, a move that elicited a lot of emotions and stirred debate about the future of the Party, and William Ruto in particular.
Regrouping of the Kenyatta’s, Moi’s and Odinga’s is a historical show of might out to eclipse William Ruto’s political stardom.
Kenya’s political history is rife with incidences of post-election deals some of which were ground-breaking and some of which were colourless.
Post-Election Pacts in Kenya
Kenya’s first post-election deal in modern history can be traced to the triumph of KANU in the May 1963 elections whereby KADU’s luminaries disbanded the party and merged with KANU. As a result, a number of KADU officials were appointed as Cabinet ministers. Elevation of former KADU officials in the KANU government intensified hostility between the Jomo Kenyatta camp and the so-called communist brigade led by Oginga Odinga. The rivalry resulted in the formation of Kenya People’s Union (KPU) led by Oginga Odinga.
During KANU’s meeting at the infamous Limuru Conference, the Vice President’s position in KANU was expanded to eight positions to politically fix Oginga Odinga with Tom Mboya acting as Jomo Kenyatta’s Mr. Fix It.
The November 1979 elections did not witness crafting of post-election deals per se, but the events following the election shaped Kenya’s and KANU’s political trajectories. Daniel Moi felt time was ripe to create his own legion of courtiers in order to move away from the political shadow of Jomo Kenyatta. This led to the appointment of several politicians to the Cabinet including Nicholas Biwott, Jonathan arap Ng’eno, Henry Kosgey, Moses Mudavadi, and Joseph Kamotho, with others such as Simeon Nyachae and Joseph Leting securing key appointments in government.
After the 1992 elections, a post-election pact between KANU and FORD-Kenya was in the offing up until the death of Oginga Odinga. The deal seemed to have been midwifed by Kamlesh Pattni having sensed that FORD-Kenya was broke with the latter’s leadership having failed to secure funds from the then feared USA Ambassador to Kenya, Smith Hempstone, to file petitions against the Democratic Party (DP) and FORD-Asili.
Pattni’s donation came in handy and was an inflection point of Oginga Odinga to reunite with Daniel Moi but the former’s death shifted focus to FORD-Kenya’s chaotic succession.
Following the 1997 general elections, both FORD-Kenya under the leadership of Kijana Wamalwa and NDP then led by Raila Odinga jostled to court Moi’s attention. Raila’s NDP successfully crafted a post-election cooperation deal with KANU that saw the latter receive support in Parliament among other institutions within the government establishment. The post-election cooperation agreement between KANU and NDP laid the foundation of the merger that took place in March 2002. This was also the tipping point of KANU’s defeat in the 2002 elections following Moi’s selection of Uhuru Kenyatta as the party’s presidential candidate.
The defeat of Mwai Kibaki’s Banana faction during the 2005 constitutional referendum paved way for the formation of a Government of National Unity that saw the appointment of some KANU and FORD-People MPs to the Cabinet. This somehow laid the foundation for KANU to support Kibaki’s reelection and Kibaki’s adoption of the Party of National Unity (PNU) as his reelection outfit.
The contentious 2007 general elections led to the formation of the Grand Coalition government with the parties represented in Parliament having their members in the Executive except for Cryrus Jirongo’s then political outfit, KADDU.
After the 2013 elections, KANU and UDF separately signed post-election deals with the Jubilee Coalition with members from the two parties rewarded with government appointments though these pacts were politically mild.
Following the highly charged 2017 elections, Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta signed a post-election deal in March 2018 popularly known as the handshake. The handshake has already proven to be a political game-changer in the country; ODM no longer plays its role as the largest opposition party, the Jubilee Party is split, William Ruto appears to be isolated and generally new alliances are shaping up.
The KANU-Jubilee Party post-election deal comes at a time when the country’s political trajectory is gearing for Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession.
But what are the scenarios and perhaps the eventualities of the post-election deal between Jubilee Party and KANU?
Possible Scenarios and Eventualities
The eventual death of the Jubilee Party is in the offing. The handshake divided the ruling party and the post-election pact complicates William Ruto’s position in the Party. Ruto now needs to identify his political party or risk further isolation. As such, we are bound to witness Ruto and his allies finding a new political home.
Additionally, with Kenyatta set to retire, politicians in his camp could regroup under KANU or a Mt. Kenya-based political party in 2022 in the event that Ruto successfully gets hold of a weakened Jubilee Party. Jubilee Party could end up being an outfit with support among pockets of the Kalenjin nation.
Formation of a broader coalition comprising of KANU, Jubilee, ODM, Wiper, FORD-Kenya, and ANC could happen. Such a coalition could have Raila Odinga as the flag bearer and Gideon Moi as the running mate. Leaders of the other political parties could assume positions in an expanded Executive. We can now connect the dots on who is supporting and not supporting the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which aims to create more positions within the Executive.
But why Gideon Moi as the possible running mate and not the other experienced politicians? He is the prince and a blue-eyed boy who can easily finance a presidential campaign but would need a higher power in Odinga to set pace for his national political career. Why Raila Odinga as the flag bearer? James Orengo has hinted of a possible alliance between Raila’s and Uhuru’s forces. By Raila Odinga taking charge of BBI rallies and hosting delegations at his Capitol Hill offices are subtle indicators of him being the flag bearer of a super-coalition.
Raila Odinga could also be betrayed in the context of the post-election pact between Jubilee Party and KANU. Kenya’s political history is not short of political betrayals and Odinga’s betrayal by Kenyatta will certainly add flavour to this political pot.
Uhuru Kenyatta might advocate for ‘Project Gideon Moi’ since 2022 is the only viable year that the young Moi has to be thrust into the national political scene. Sometime back, Uhuru Kenyatta publicly stated that the choice of his preferred successor will be a shock to many. Maybe Gideon Moi will be the man.
Betrayal of Raila Odinga could occasion formation of an alliance between him and the now isolated William Ruto. But with Odinga and Ruto on one side, will KANU’s alliance with the other parties triumph? Possibly yes especially if the Luhya bloc largely sticks with Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula who could lend support to Gideon Moi, and also if the formation gets the support of majority of members of the Mt. Kenya bloc. If this scenario plays out, then it will be the most interesting political battle to watch.
The rise of Gideon Moi would eventually divide the unity portrayed by the Kalenjin bloc during elections; voting in a defined pattern. This could also be a strategy to further decapitate Ruto’s kingship status of the Kalenjin community.
All in all, the political jostling and repositioning will take place as we head towards 2022 but let’s not forget the role of the deep state in determining the country’s political fate. The deep state calls the shots on who becomes the Commander-In-Chief. Interesting political times lie ahead.
By Sitati Wasilwa
The author is a political economist and consultant on public policy, governance and geopolitics. Twitter: @SitatiWasilwa.