Despite the spin from Jubilee, its loss in the Kajiado Central by-election was quite devastating.
The expectations arising from appointing a local son to the high docket of Internal Security, the deployment of State-backed campaign machinery, the free-flowing cash — all came to naught.
There has, of course, already been plenty of introspection about what went wrong.
From the bungling of Jubilee nominations to the failure of Jubilants to understand Maasai clan undercurrents to fronting an uncharismatic candidate who was content to leave the State to do his campaign.
However, the mongrel called JAP posed the biggest problem. It was conceived in a hurry to take advantage of the by-election, then foisted on the voters at the last minute.
A cross-section of Jubilee voters in the constituency who spoke candidly to the media offered that they were more familiar with TNA and to some extent URP. This new thing only created confusion.
Truth be told, voters are more at home with parties they are familiar with, be they ODM, TNA, URP or Wiper. They don’t react well to something imposed on them by fiat.
ODM got it right by running its candidate on that ticket rather than bringing along some amorphous “joint” Cord candidate. The sad record of PNU should provide a good guide. Made-in-State-House-political-parties have a habit of faring poorly at the grassroots.
WENT TO TNA
Post-2013 Maasailand has not been an Opposition zone, so it should not have been too hard for Jubilee to crack Kajiado Central if it played its cards well.
With the exception of that single constituency, the rest of the elective parliamentary seats in Kajiado County — including the Senate and the women representative positions — went to TNA. So did a majority of the county assembly seats.
In the sister Narok County, the honours went to URP, on whose ticket four MPs were elected, with TNA and the Kenya National Congress sharing the remaining two.
The URP also took the Senate and women representative seats and capped it all by nabbing the governorship. But the latter came with a catch, which was to spill over into the Kajiado by-election in a big way.
Ostensibly, the Narok MPs who have been on the warpath against their governor frame their onslaught on the issue of corruption.
But in reality the war is being fought because the governor is perceived to be the face of minority clans in the county, including that of “settlers” from neighbouring Bomet.
Though Governor Samuel Tunai and four of the elected leaders opposed to him are all under URP, a serious schism has developed whereby the MPs regard the URP to be the governor’s real protector.
The disastrous order to arrest the MPs following the January anti-Tunai demonstration in Narok simply hardened their feelings toward the Jubilee government.
The fact that it was only Tunai who showed up from Narok to campaign for the JAP candidate in Kajiado Central cannot be said to have been much of a morale booster for Jubilee. All the other senior elected Narok politicians steered clear of the campaign.
Long before that, there had been a groundswell of unease about the JAP within the URP Rift Valley base.
It quickly escalated to open hostility from URP renegades led by Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and Kuresoi South MP Zakayo Cheruiyot. Interestingly, following the Kajiado fiasco, a previously silent chorus from central Kenya has started emerging to say they want “their” TNA back.
In principle, there is nothing wrong in parties uniting. The problem is when the process is forced in an artificial way. Mergers occur when there is a shared need, and it’s best to let the evolution happen naturally.
With JAP, the timing was all wrong, The outfit was not coming to Kajiado to launch a membership recruitment drive, or a public “sensitisationss’’ mission.
All of a sudden it was appearing because a parliamentary vacancy had materialised, and that was a very crass and opportunistic way of announcing its arrival.