Political Defections of the Year and Their Impact

  • A collage of Deputy President William Ruto receiving Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru to UDA (Left) and Raila Odinga receiving Kitutu Chache MP Richard Onyanka to ODM (Right).
    A collage of Deputy President William Ruto receiving Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru to UDA (Left) and Raila Odinga receiving Kitutu Chache MP Richard Onyanka to ODM (Right).
    File
  • Over the years, politicians have always aligned themselves with political parties and alliances that guarantee them the hope of winning during elections.

    While some of the political defections are because of ideological differences within parties, others are purely tactical moves in ensuring one is elected. Being a year before the 2022 General Elections, 2021 was filled with political defections.  

    The defections have largely pitted Deputy President William with his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party against Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

    Here is a list of politicians who jump shipped this year.

    Deputy President William Ruto and Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru at his Karen residence, on October 26, 2021
    Deputy President William Ruto and Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru at his Karen residence, on October 26, 2021
    DPPS

    Governor Anne Waiguru

    After months of speculation on her defection to Ruto’s camp, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru defected to UDA on October 26, after meeting with the DP at his Karen residence.

    Before joining UDA, the Kirinyaga governor was a vocal defender of the handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). She was also among the Mt Kenya leaders who occasionally joined Raila Odinga in his tours to the region. 

    At some point, the former Devolution CS was even speculated to be a possible running mate of the ODM boss in the 2022 polls.

    However, in an interview with a local newspaper on October 17, Waiguru revealed that she was thinking of joining UDA because of Ruto's influence in the region. She explained that many Central Kenya voters resonated with the DP's political messaging.

    "In the last four years when those guys were going around the country selling the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the Handshake, Ruto camped there and was present. He connected with them,"

    "You see, the reason Ruto is very popular in Mt Kenya is that he connects with the youth. They even say with emotion and passion that  Anatufeel," she explained at the time.

    Nonetheless, her defection to UDA rocked the DP’s camp as her move did not sit well with Ruto’s long-term ally and Kirinyaga Woman Representative Purity Ngirici. Their rivalry played out during the DP's tour to Kirinyaga County on November 28, as their supporters clashed forcing the police to intervene. Ngirici is also eyeing the gubernatorial seat.

    During his address at the rally, the DP was forced to play down the rivalry affirming that the party will hold free and fair party primaries. Consequently, Ngirici publicly stated that she would reevaluate her relationship with UDA citing incidents of bullying within the party.

    Nelson Havi

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    LSK President Nelson Havi (left) and Deputy President William Ruto (right) at Karen, Nairobi on Monday, November 22, 2021
    Twitter
    Nelson Havi

    Outspoken Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi defected to UDA from Musalia Mudavadi's Amani National Congress. Havi who is eyeing the Westlands parliamentary seat stated that he would contest for the seat currently held by ODM MP Timothy Wanyonyi. The outgoing MP has already declared his bid for Nairobi’s governorship.

    In the run to the 2017 elections, Havi was an ardent supporter of the ODM party and was among the battery of lawyers who defended exiled Miguna Miguna who was deported having sworn-in Raila Odinga as the people’s president at Uhuru Park on January 30, 2018.

    However, after the cooperation deal between the president and Odinga, famously known as the handshake, Havi became a critic of the former PM and shared many views with the DP including the BBI.

    Following his defection, Ruto faces a huge task after UDA youth leader, Brian Mwema, who is also eying the party ticket warned the party not to hand out a direct ticket to the outgoing LSK president. He stated that he had worked hard for the party and it would work against the party to dish out direct party tickets to newcomers.

    “I have been selling the UDA vision from the onset in the grassroots. I am banking on the party’s promise for free and fair nominations ahead of the 2022 General Election,” he warned.

    Richard Onyonka

    Moses Wetangula’s Ford Kenya was dealt a blow after Kitutu Chache Member of Parliament defected to ODM. Before defecting, Onyonka served as the Deputy party leader and explained that he wanted to contest for the Kisii Senatorial seat through Raila’s party.

    During a meeting with Raila on November 25, Onyonka explained that he opted to shift his camp to support the former premier’s presidential ambitions.

    "When Raila was being apprehended after the 1982 coup attempt, I was also apprehended. I never slept safely listening to him being walked away at night because we thought that they would finish him,"

     "This is a man I have been waiting for to become president then I can retire. We will work together with the team that is elected and we shall not defect from the party again," he asserted then.

    Deputy President William Ruto is received by Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka (Far right) and Kisii County Deputy Governor Joash Maangi (left) at a prayer service in Bobasi, Kisii County on November 28, 2018
    Deputy President William Ruto is received by Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka (Far right) and Kisii County Deputy Governor Joash Maangi (left) at a prayer service in Bobasi, Kisii County on November 28, 2018
    The Standard

    Cate Waruguru

    The Laikipia Woman Representative was part of the Tanga Tanga team before and a strong defender of the BBI initiative. However, in November she dumped Kenyatta and his handshake brother and joined UDA. She later stated that it would be hard to win an election through another party.

    The Laikipia MP hit the ground running and accompanied Ruto to various visits in the Mount Kenya region.

     Governor Mutahi Kahiga

    After rubbing shoulders with Odinga’s allies in the Mount Kenya region for publicly lecturing the ODM party leader on his antics of narrating his political history, the governor openly declared support for the DP while attending a church service alongside him on December 5.

    At the time, the governor explained that many of the voters in the region resonated with the political messaging of the DP. His defection was seen as a blow to the former PM who has enjoyed the support of most governors from the vote-rich region.

    Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga
    Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga
    Daily Nation