PARTY NOMINATIONS: The main contest in the August polls will be between Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito and former governor Dr David Nkedianye
Based on the available intelligence, Katoo appears to have a strong edge over the two other gubernatorial candidates seeking the UDA ticket
The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) has been making grand plans designed to assure it of victory in the gubernatorial contest, even as the infighting intensifies within the opposing Azimio coalition.
A meeting held recently at a hotel in Kajiado County reaffirmed to the candidates that the nominations will be free and fair in order to place the strongest among them on the ballot paper for the August 9 elections.
So far, the UDA ticket has attracted three candidates. They are Kajiado South MP Katoo ole Metito, former National Transport and Safety Authority boss Francis Mejja, and Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko.
“We want these nominations to be very fair,” said Gilbert Matura, the UDA coordinator for Kajiado County, adding that the exercise would be undertaken by the party’s National Elections Board.
He dispelled the notion that one of the candidates would be at an advantage due to his longer association with party officials, reiterating that the local party office would not be involved in the exercise. “They have also got an explanation from the Secretariat and the Deputy President,” said Matura.
The Kajiado branch of the party is reputed to have over 100,000 members. Nationwide, UDA boasts a membership of 7 million members.
Unlike the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in the Azimio coalition, which gave Governor Joseph ole Lenku a direct nomination, UDA is said to be averse to such manoeuvres in Kajiado, preferring to let the candidates wrestle it out. Still, the party is not opposed to what Matura calls a “negotiated democracy” in which the candidates agree among themselves on whom to field as the gubernatorial flagbearer.
“If all gubernatorial candidates can agree to front one candidate, the party will welcome that idea,” he said.
The cracks in the Azimio coalition will mean that Lenku will contest on an ODM ticket while former governor Dr David Nkedianye will be on the ballot under the Jubilee Party. Thus, the two will split the bloc of Azimio votes to the possible advantage of the UDA candidate who emerges victorious from the nominations.
An informed source who sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter said that UDA had however already assessed the relative strength of each candidate seeking its ticket. The assessment was based on three sources of information — reports by the National Intelligence Service that the party had accessed, reports by the provincial administration, and the party’s own intelligence.
Based on the available intelligence, the source said, Katoo appears to have a strong edge over the two other candidates. For a start, he commands the support of a significant number of the aspirants for various elective positions seeking the party ticket and even some outside it. In Kajiado North, for example, a majority of the sitting MCAs are said to be supporting Katoo’s bid.
This is replicated in Kajiado West as well. In his own home turf of Kajiado South, a majority of aspirants for MCA and MP positions are aligned to Katoo.
As such, UDA believes the three key contenders for the governor’s postion that will be on the ballot box are Katoo on the UDA ticket, Dr Nkedianye on a Jubilee ticket, and Lenku on an ODM ticket.
However, the party does not consider Lenku to be much of a threat, and believes the main contest will be between Katoo and Dr Nkedianye.
“Lenku will be number three. He has been rejected by Kajiado North and East, which are the most populous sub-counties. His only votes will be from clan loyaltiesin the other three sub-counties. He might lead in Kajiado Central alone by a small margin,” said our source.
The party believes Katoo may lead in Kajiado West by a small margin. He will however lead in Kajiado South, where he has been the MP for three consecutive terms.
In Kajiado North, Dr Nkedianye is expected to have a strong advantage due to the incorporation of Joseph Manje as his running mate. Manje is the current MP of the constituency.
But in order to neutralise Dr Nkedianye’s support in Kajiado North and perhaps gain a chunk of the vote from the populous Kajiado North and East constituencies, Katoo and UDA are considering going for a non-Maasai running mate. Negotiations are ongoing and the position will be known after the April 14 nominations.
The party is also trying to forestall any disputes that may arise from the nominations. The party’s Dispute Resolution Committee is expected to resolve any issues arising from the nominations by April 22. A falling out between the gubernatorial candidates — with the losers possibly running as independent candidates — could further complicate the gubernatorial arithmetic in Kajiado.