By expelling Ruto, Jubilee Party will show dysfunctional political systems

The Jubilee Party’s plan to oust William Ruto from his post as deputy party leader at its National Delegates Conference (NDC) on November 30 illustrates the scourge of weak Kenyan political party structures.

There is no doubt that the rift between the vice president and his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, which was sparked by the presidential ambitions of the former, is political, one which can also be resolved through political channels, including governing party bodies.

It is also important to note that Ruto’s withdrawal from the party, if it happens, will not affect his position as DP, which is constitutionally protected.

It is worrying, however, that internal resolution mechanisms are not available in a country where parties represent nothing – an environment which has ensured the gradual disintegration of groups and which encourages dysfunction.

An environment that has ensured that no party organizes uncontested primaries every five years, making the party jumps thrive relentlessly.

Strong systems within the ruling party would have dealt with such issues, as they would have acted on all the differences between the two big names of the Jubilee.

The president and his deputy met in 2013 through the Jubilee Coalition comprising their parties – the late The National Alliance (TNA) and United Republican Party (URP).

In 2016, they dissolved the parties and, along with 10 others, formed the Jubilee Party, a group they vowed to be a role model for generations – ruling the country for 100 years.

Uhuru and Ruto had touted Jubilee’s birth as the death of regional politics, heralding an era of ideological discussions.

It was to be the beginning of the end of briefcase evenings, which revolve around individuals, not ideals, compared to South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) and the Chinese Communist Party.

Five years later, Jubilee, although a shell of himself, is arguably the president’s party, as he calls the shots. But he faces a bleak future and to survive he plans to form a coalition with ODM as Ruto heads to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

Jubilee has yet to hold internal elections since its inception, with all of its officials in their interim positions. Its National Executive Committee (NEC) has never met.

This contravenes the law on political parties which obliges parties to hold frequent elections.

The president and his allies accused Ruto of becoming a stray member, a situation that could be corrected through appropriate disciplinary means.

But for a party that has failed to subdue rebels defending the interests of other parties, getting rid of Ruto can be a daunting task.

Jubilee General Secretary Raphael Tuju says legal loopholes prevent the parties from whipping the rebels off the hook, freeing the ruling party from any blame.

“It is (the problem) the weakness of the laws (adopted) after the Constitution of 2010”, he argues.

Tuju argues that the lengthy appeal processes that precede the eviction of any wandering party member make it more difficult for them to be removed.

“We have come out of the one-party era where party officials harassed MPs. Laws have been put in place to protect MPs and prevent an iron fist from party officials. ”

He says that although the law prevents a draconian rule, it promotes indiscipline, since the rebels are somewhat shielded from harsh action.

“Some of these rebellious people are ethnic capture prisoners, playing in the public gallery,” he adds.

ODM may be the only party that has hacked what it takes to achieve longevity.

“We have been serious and committed in our quest to build the party because we believe in institution building. It has not been easy, but we have all shown resilience, led by our party leader, ”said ODM General Secretary Edwin Sifuna.

“We have very solid structures that extend to the polling stations, which makes us the only party to have them. ”

But the party is dogged by the same powerlessness that prevents Jubilee from taking action against stray members such as Malindi lawmaker Aisha Jumwa, one of the many MPs who have scrambled to join rival parties.

“Political parties do not have the power to discipline lost members. In Jumwa’s case, the Political Parties Litigation Tribunal said that we did not facilitate his right to be heard, although we followed all the procedures, ”adds Sifuna, who calls for the enactment of laws that would give parties more power to take action against rebel members.

In South Africa, for example, the ANC has already acted swiftly against Jacob Zuma when he was vice president in 2005 over rape allegations and called him back years later in 2018 for a shady arms deal. when he was president.

Zuma resigned following pressure from the ANC, which had asked him to resign or face a vote of no confidence in parliament.

His predecessor Thabo Mbeki had also already faced the wrath of the ANC, which recalled him in 2009 for allegations of abuse of power. He too was invited to resign from his post as president.

While admitting that Jubilee did not formally ask the DP to resign, Tuju says the circumstances are different, given that Jubilee and the ANC exist in different constitutional dispensations.

“Their constitutional framework allows it, ours does not. But just because it’s hard to navigate the maze of enforcing discipline doesn’t mean we’re not taking action. This inference came from the president in a recent interview with editors, ”said Tuju, who added that asking the DP to step down might be futile given that there are only 10 months left until the general election.

“When a party is institutionalized, it acquires a life of its own far from its leaders,” said political scientist Amukowa Anangwe, who argues that the ANC’s effectiveness owes to robust systems.

The former foreign minister and lecturer at Dodoma University cites parties like Chama cha Mapinduzi in Tanzania and the Ugandan National Resistance Movement as those that have endured thanks to effective internal systems.

“When Jubilee was formed he instantly became a juggernaut. This resulted in small parties with strong, vocal leaders, ”adds Professor Anangwe.

“He had the potential to grow and consolidate his influence over Kenyan politics by becoming institutionalized. ”

He further argues that the ruling party should have bolstered its popular support by holding elections.

“The problem with appointed officials is that their accountability is always bottom-up, as opposed to the people. ”

The situation is not unique to Jubilee. The main political parties in the country are essentially owned by their leaders, who have unlimited authority over said parties, which is fertile ground for partisan indiscipline. The 2011 Law on Political Parties aimed to remove parties from the grip of individuals by transforming them into the property of citizens. He did so by dictating that parties would be funded by taxpayers.

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