Some influential members of President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance(UDA) have hatched an elaborate plan to remove Cleophas Malala as the party’s secretary general.
The Star has established that some powerful politicians within the UDA fold are aggressively but quietly scheming to topple Malala during the party’s upcoming elections in December.
Speaking when he recently made an impromptu late-evening tour of the Hustler Centre -the UDA party headquarters- President Ruto said that all interim officials will be subjected to elections.
All the UDA national and grassroots officials were picked to serve on an interim basis following the launch of the party in 2021.
On Wednesday, an MP from Western Kenya who said he could throw his hat into the ring for a national leadership position confirmed that plans are afoot to have Malala replaced.
”It is rather obvious that his leadership style is wanting and that some of his roadside declarations are causing divisions in UDA and Kenya Kwanza by extension,” the MP said.
On his part, Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa told the Star that he will be coming up against Malala during the upcoming UDA internal elections in December.
”I am running for the position of Secretary General of the UDA party,” said Barasa, a key linchpin of the ruling party.
On Friday Ruto is expected to hold the national governing council meeting – all elected leaders and party officials – to ratify the preparations for the December polls.
Malala, a former high-ranking member of Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress, was installed as the UDA party SG in February to succeed Veronica Maina who was nominated as a senator.
Since his appointment, Malala’s profile has been growing and was in July allowed by President Ruto to sit in Cabinet meetings – an elevation that placed him at the level of Cabinet Secretaries.
Malala has recently come under fire from some UDA stalwarts opposed to his leadership style, management of the Hustler Centre and push to have Kenya Kwanza affiliate parties merge.
Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale recently lifted the lid on the jitters in UDA over Malala, asserting that they will seek his replacement during the December UDA countrywide elections.
”We will find a level-headed man or woman to vote for after gauging the suitability of the candidates’ list,” Khalwale said of the impending UDA elections.
Speaking in Kakamega when he held a meeting with UDA county leaders to champion fair elections, Khalwale took a swipe at Malala warning him against rocking the boat from within.
”President Ruto and UDA must be very wary of new members who joined us recently without dissolving their former parties. Who knows, they could be out on an espionage mission to cripple UDA from within,” Khalwale said.
The upcoming elections could pose a major headache for the President as he seeks to avert infiltration from rival camps and steady the ship ahead of his 2027 reelection.
In what signalled President Ruto’s deliberate move to take charge of the upcoming UDA elections, Ruto held a five-hour meeting with party officials a few weeks ago when he toured the Hustler Centre.
Ruto warned that all the current interim officials of the UDA party must be ready to face elections in December.
”All interim officials must be subjected to elections and nobody should have any illusion that they are permanent,” the source quoted Ruto as having warned the officials,” Ruto was reported as having said on September 13.
Grassroots and national elections for political parties have always been a hot potato that most outfits avoid, opting to headhunt personalities to take up the roles.
The concern is that rival operatives often take advantage of the fissures that emerge from hotly contested party polls to infiltrate the outfits and plant their allies with the aim of weakening them.
Fallouts also emerge because it proves too expensive to band together the wounds inflicted by the internal competition, leading to disenchantment and defections.
Malala’s call to have small parties within Kenya Kwanza fold and join UDA is likely to present another daunting task for Ruto who is seeking to strengthen his outfit.
Malala kicked the push for the dissolution of ANC of Mudavadi, and Moses Wetang’ula’s Ford-K in March when he insisted that they cannot purport to support Ruto when they are developing their own parties.
Last week, Malala traversed parts of Western Kenya and maintained that Mudavadi and Wetang’ula must dissolve their political parties.
“You cannot claim to be working with the president while clinging on to your parties. During the day, you claim to be with the president only to retreat to Western and start popularizing your parties in the night. It is high time that you disband them and join the president’s UDA party,” Malala said.
Malala is perceived to be aligned with a faction within Kenya Kwanza that aggressively supports Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.
His appointment as UDA secretary general was seen as part of Gachagua’s long-term scheme to cut Mudavadi and Wetang’ula down to size with respect to Ruto’s succession plans.