Independence party Kanu has been operating without a formal pre-election agreement with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party as required by law since 2017.
This pushed the two to sign a post-poll deal last week.
Although the party led by Baringo Senator Gideon Moi has been voting with Jubilee as a bloc and has its members seconded to House committees by virtue of Jubilee Party strength, Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said that the pre-election agreement had not been deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties.
“It was supposed to be deposited as soon as the pre-election deal was done, but some people just did not do their jobs,” Mr Tuju said.
“So to avoid any challenge and any ambiguity, the two parties have chosen the path of a post-election agreement to formalise the relationship they already have,” he added.
Kanu has 10 MPs in the National Assembly as Mr Moi, West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio and nominated Senator Abshiro Soka Halake fly the Kanu flag in the Senate.
Based on the non-formalised deal, Mr Moi now chairs the Information, Communication and Technology Committee while Mr Poghisio is the head of Committee on Delegated Legislation.
The signing of the post-election agreement now means that Kanu has become the first party to formalise its agreement with Jubilee, shoring up President Kenyatta’s numbers in both Houses at a time of an increasingly public cold war between him and his deputy William Ruto.
While the pre-election ‘gentleman’s agreement’ allowed Kanu to sit in committees and in the majority side of the House in the National Assembly and the Senate, the post-poll deal now means that Kanu MPs and senators can sit in a Jubilee Party parliamentary group, which will now be called a coalition.
“The Post-Election Coalition shall be purely for purposes of addressing the parliamentary strength of the Jubilee Party in Parliament and / or in the County Assemblies,” the Jubilee Party Constitution states.
The agreement might not do any magic politically, as the two parties have been working together, anyway, but the inclusion of Kanu could work to the disadvantage of Dr Ruto’s side, which has been on a warpath to defend the Jubilee Party which was recently in the DPs’ firm grip.
The agreement between the two parties was received by the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu on May 8.
“This is to certify that Jubilee Party and Kanu, fully registered political parties under the Political Parties Act, 2011, deposited a coalition agreement. Form PP 19 was filed on May 4, 2020 by the chairmen and secretary generals of the two parties,” said Ms Nderitu.
The deal was signed by Mr Tuju, Jubilee Chairman Nelson Dzuya, Mr Moi, Kanu’s SG Nick Salat.
And while the sealing of the deal might create challenges on implementation of the pre-election agreement before it was formalised, Jubilee might have questions on its own processes.
Dr Ruto’s side insists that the national executive committee (NEC) has not met since the 2017 General Election.
CLOSER TO LEADERSHIP
This is important because the party Constitution indicates that a post-election agreement “shall originate from a Post-Election Coalition Negotiation Panel consisting of the national chairperson, the secretary-general and two other persons nominated by the National Executive Committee.”
“As a party, we do not want to stagnate, and growing for us means getting closer to the leadership of this country. And so the question remains: if it is in our party’s best interest, why not?” Mr Salat said.
While he insisted that Kanu was not reinventing the wheel, Mr Salat said the party was ready “to go the extra mile to be even more in.”
“If and when our support is needed, we are ready. If we are needed to serve in any position, we are ready. Our top decision-making organ endorsed this kind of arrangement,” Mr Salat explained.
The agreement, the two parties said, will be guided by patriotism, national unity, sustainable economic growth, devolution, integrity, public participation in decision-making, and promotion of interests of vulnerable groups such as women, youth, and persons with disabilities.
Disputes about the agreement, they said, should only be subjected to the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal “only after serving the party over whose action, omission, declaration, candidature or nomination the person seeking dispute resolution is aggrieved over with a notice of not less than seven days”.