President Uhuru Kenyatta has suddenly called off the November 30 Jubilee National Delegates Convention, handing his deputy William Ruto a lifeline in the party—at least for now.

The move also cast a pall of uncertainty over the high-stakes plans by Jubilee to endorse a political marriage with ODM boss Raila Odinga.

Critically, the Jubilee revamp plans to steady the outfit, including overhauling the national secretariat and strengthening party bastions, are now in limbo.

Something is not adding up. Postponing NDC that has been planned for a whole month at such a critical moment.

Kieleweke MP

Growing disquiet has emerged among the President’s allies who are grumbling that the reorganisation delays would prove politically costly for them.

Uhuru was expected to make clear his succession game plan that would give a big boost to MPs who have stuck with him.

He was also expected to kick out Deputy President Ruto; the Dynamic Duo has venomously fallen out. Endless articles have said the marriage is irretrievably broken.

“Something is not adding up. Postponing the NDC that has been planned for a whole month at such a critical moment is not well thought out,” a Kieleweke MP who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Star.

The President is planning to deliver his annual State of the Nation Address to Parliament on the same day the Jubilee NDC was planned to take place.

While some of the President’s allies insist the parliamentary address caused the postponement, there are hard questions as to the coincidence of the two important events.

For instance, it is not clear why the President’s planners had to wait to the tail end of the current session of Parliament, which started in February, to organise for the address.

Some critics of the ‘postponement’ are reading mischief, claiming it is a continuation of the President’s indecisiveness about kicking out Ruto and his troops firmly grabbing the reins of the ruling outfit.

On Monday, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, a key Uhuru ally, lifted the lid on the intrigues that would

have resulted in the postponement.

The lawmaker said the cancellation was aimed at averting a deadly political standoff in Parliament between the pro-Uhuru forces and allies of Ruto.

“This (postponement) will ensure that whatever decisions are taken at the NDC don’t affect the smooth running of Bunge during these last days as there are crucial matters being dealt with in this session,”Ngunjiri told the Star.

The President was expected to use the NDC summit to kick out Ruto from his deputy party leader post and instal his confidants and party loyalists at the helm of the party.

He went on, “It was decided that trying to do both the State of the Nation and the NDC on the same day would end up mixing state and political matters when it could be avoided.”

A group of MPs allied to the President have called for radical surgery at Jubilee as part of the revamp strategy to position the party as a formidable and viable force ahead of next year’s polls.

Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, an Uhuru ally, admitted there is a lot of anxiety over the postponement among aspirants seeking the Jubilee ticket.

“The postponement of the meeting, of course, increases that anxiety. Those who want to run through the Jubilee Party also become anxious about how they go about their campaigns,” he said.

The President was expected to use the NDC summit to kick out Ruto from his deputy party leader post and instal his confidants and party loyalists at the helm of the party.

A recently leaked party officials lineup revealed the President’s elaborate plans to take firm control of the outfit, including replacing secretary general Raphael Tuju with former Nyeri Woman Representative Pricilla Nyokabi.

The undated document had revealed that Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, Eldas MP Adan Keynan and Samburu Woman Representative Maison Leshomo, were tipped to replace Ruto.

The Jubilee Party, in a statement, denounced the leaked list as fake.

In what was seen as part of the

revamp programme, the party recently fired as many as 70 directors at the secretariat and in branches.

It is believed that once Ruto is officially removed from the party alongside his allies, then the outfit will formally okay a political partnership with Raila ahead of the 2022 polls.

The drafting of the agreement is said to have been concluded long ago and is awaiting the approval of the parties’ delegates before being announced.

Was the State of the Nation an emergency? There is more than meets the eye.

MP Rigathi Gachagua

When contacted, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, a key ally of Ruto, dismissed reports that the NDC had been postponed because of the parliamentary address.

“Nothing is further from the truth; they know the consequences of a rushed process that does not abide by the law. Let them remove whoever they want but they must comply with the law,” Gachagua said.

He went on, “Was the State of the Nation an emergency? There is more than meets the eye.”

However, nominated MP Maina Kamanda who confirmed that the much-awaited NDC has been called off, for now, cited the parliamentary address as the main reason.

“The Jubilee National Delegates Convention that was planned for November 30 has been called off because the President will be addressing Parliament on the same day,” said Kamanda.

There are fears the President’s men think a move to topple Ruto from the helm, nine months to the polls, would be a miscalculation and could easily boomerang on Uhuru’s succession plans.

Kieni MP Kanini Kega, a key confidant of the President, on Monday said the move is “purely meant to give room for the parliamentary address”.

“I can assure you the NDC will still happen after the presidential address, and even within that week,” Kega declared.

He went on, “The presidential address is a constitutional obligation that the President must fulfil; we must give way to it and then hold the NDC on another day since it has not been postponed indefinitely,” he said.

There are fears the President’s men have resolved that a move to topple Ruto from the helm of the party, nine months to the polls, would be a miscalculation and would easily boomerang on Uhuru’s

succession plans.

Some hold the view that were Ruto to be removed, then it cannot be done a few days before the country marks Jamhuri Day celebrations on December 12.

“No leader would want to set a negative tempo for the national celebrations where Ruto would also play a role, especially after what we saw in Kirinyaga during the Mashujaa Day celebrations when he was cheered,” another Jubilee MP said.

It is understood the President will fully take control of the party close to the August general elections — by February next year after the electoral commission officially gazettes the date for the polls.

While Ruto has fundamentally differed with his boss and rolled out a vigorous campaign to popularise his United Democratic Alliance party —on whose ticket he would run for president — he still constitutionally remains the country’s Deputy President.

The Jubilee Party Constitution provides that the Deputy President shall be the party’s deputy party leader. Therefore, an amendment to this law was seen as the sure way of kicking out Ruto.

However, fears of legal challenges at a time when the Executive and Judiciary’s relationship is strained would have opened a can of worms for another showdown as the DP’s men would not take it lying down.

“This is a complex matter that might end up in court and delay our 2022 plans. We are approaching this clause with a lot of caution although it is clear Ruto is in UDA. Timing is what would be critical,” another Jubilee insider said.

The postponement would also slow down the process of crafting a mega political alliance between Jubilee and ODM that will face Ruto next year.

The Jubilee NDC and the removal of Ruto is standing between Raila and the formalisation of the handshake pact into a political alliance for the 2022 polls.

The President has signalled his support for Raila to succeed him at State House when he retires next year.

It was expected that the ruling party’s NDC summit would have sealed a marriage with ODM, handing Raila a sweeping head start in his hopes to succeed Uhuru.

Source: The Star