The United Democratic Alliance linked to Deputy President William Ruto plans to expand countrywide as it prepares what insiders call ‘a grand launch’.
The party – touted as Ruto’s 2022 State House vehicle and symbolized by a working man’s wheelbarrow – is to be formally unveiled in late February or early March.
Ruto has said he would ditch the Jubilee Party if necessary but has recently defended President Uhuru Kenyatta from attacks by ODM boss Raila Odinga, Uhuru’s handshake ‘soulmate’.
The launch would immediately be followed by the election of officials from the grassroots to the national level.
Various candidates are jostling for political control as the legitimate UDA officials.
“An elaborate plan has been put in place to make the party the big thing in Kenya, UDA chairman Johnson Muthama told the Star on Monday.
The ex-Machakos senator said despite the party having not been formally unveiled, “thousands of Kenyans are already queuing to be registered as members”.
“We have succeeded in changing the name and already have our headquarters. Now we are in Phase Two where we are set to open offices in all the subcounties and county headquarters,” he said.
“From there, we will elect officials in all our branches to the top leadership. This is the party by the hustlers and for the hustlers and we want them to own and be part of every step and process of the decision-making in the party,” Muthama said.
UDA, formerly the Party of Development and Reform (PDR), which is in coalition with the Jubilee Party, is yet to be formally launched since it underwent re-branding early this month.
The Star has established the party that has taken the Jubilee strongholds by storm has 81,273 fresh applicants seeking to be enrolled.
Most of them are said to be from Nairobi, Mt Kenya, Rift Valley, Northeastern, Eastern, Coast and parts of Ukambani, Western and Kisii where Ruto enjoys sizeable support.
Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu acknowledged her office lately has seen many people informing them of their resignation from one party and shift to another.
She did not disclose if the migrants were moving from Jubilee to UDA.
“We do have an increase in people changing parties. People resign from one party and join another every day. Resignations are all over now, maybe because of the several by-elections that have been scheduled by the IEBC,” she told the Star by phone.
The trouble-stricken ruling Jubilee Party has witnessed a falling out between President Kenyatta and DP Ruto, the party leader and deputy party leader, respectively.
Muthama, a former close ally of Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, said the one-month-old UDA has been received well countrywide.
“The way UDA has been embraced across the country is a clear testament to how Kenyans are thirsting for vibrant national parties formed to serve the interests of wananchi. We will build our party that is democratic and run on the rule of law,” he said.
Muthama said he hopes at at least three national parties would be formed by merging “the small tribal ones” ahead of the 2022 General Election.
“It is our democratic right to have as many political parties as we wish but it is our prayer that we could have three national parties. That way, we will end tribal groupings and put in place parties that can only be differentiated by their ideologies and development agendas,” he said.
He is proposing that Raila Odinga’s ODM should team up with the Jubilee faction allied to President Kenyatta to form a huge party, while Ford- Kenya, ANC and Wiper would be merged.
“Those tribal political parties cannot field a candidate outside their turf. We need national parties which when one forms that government, the other one can offer effective oversight as an alternative government. Not the situation we find ourselves in.” Muthama said.