JEREMIAH KIPLANG’AT | Sunday 27 December 2015 | The Nation
The political arena is expected to heat up in 2016 as the Jubilee administration enters its second last year in power.By the end of the year, there will be only eight months to the 2017 polls.These are the people to watch out for in the political and government circles and who will be setting the tone for debate at the national level over the next 365 days.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has only 20 months left to the end of his first term, is expected to step up the war against corruption as he seeks to bolster his chances for re-election in 2017.His government has been hit by one corruption scandal after another since taking office in 2013, giving the Opposition, led by Cord leader Raila Odinga a platform on which to demand far-reaching changes, accountability and prosecution of suspects.
During the last quarter of 2015, the President appeared to have taken bold steps to fight corruption, including by sacking five Cabinet secretaries who had been suspended earlier in the year and some of whom are facing corruption cases in courts. Though applauded by his supporters, the opposition said the changes were not enough.Mr Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have been trying to rally their supporters to join one political house, the Jubilee Party, and abandon TNA and URP, which formed the Jubilee Coalition ahead of the 2013 polls.
The coming year will make or break the new party, which will in turn shape the political duel for 2017.Cord Leader Raila Odinga, who has been Mr Kenyatta’s and Mr Ruto’s fiercest critic, has one eye on the next elections and the other on the missteps that the Jubilee administration has been making.
He has kept the government on its toes so far this year and is likely to raise the tempo over the next 365 days.
Mr Odinga has spoken out against corruption, demanding that the President sacks some of his Cabinet secretaries and ensure that big names are prosecuted for abuse of office or loss of taxpayers’ money. However, in 2016, he faces the challenges of securing the support of his allies in Cord — Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula and Wiper Democratic Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka — both of whom want to be on the presidential ballot paper in 2017.
BATTLES OF HIS OWN
Mr Wetang’ula is facing battles of his own, after the electoral commission named a team to establish whether or not he should be struck off the voters’ register. If that happens, he will automatically lose his seat and be locked out of elective office in 2017. He is also battling allegations, first published by the BBC, that he received a bribe from BAT to influence a contract.
Deputy President William Ruto, who has consistently taken the political battle to Mr Odinga’s doorstep, also faces a crucial year in his ICC case.Judges at The Hague-based court are likely to decide on the Motion of whether he has a case to answer in the first quarter of 2016. Whatever the ruling, it will have far-reaching ramifications for Mr Ruto’s political career.
Interestingly, the most vocal critic of the merger of TNA and URP has come from Mr Ruto’s own backyard, with Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto of URP opposing the move. Baringo Senator Gideon Moi of Kanu has also opposed the merger plans.ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi is also likely to play a critical role in the era of coalition-building, especially if he can unite political leaders from western Kenya behind him.
Mr Mudavadi might play a role in the much-needed swing vote if he plays his cards well.In the Executive, the eyes of Kenyans will mostly focus on Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, under whose tenure both US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis visited Kenya. In 2016, Kenya will host at least two high level international meetings, riding on the success of the events held in Nairobi this year.
Kenyans will also be watching Mr Mwangi Kiunjuri keenly after he took over the Devolution docket from Ms Anne Waiguru who resigned under a cloud of controversy after the loss of hundreds of millions of shillings at the National Youth Service.
How Mr Kiunjuri deals with corruption in the ministry and handles the disputes between the national and county governments will shape the future of devolution.