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This man Mathew Lempurkel: Why the MP is no stranger to controversy

By Job Weru | Updated Fri, November 25th 2016 at 00:00 GMT +3

When Mathew Lekidime Lempurkel, contested the Laikipia North parliamentary seat in 2013, his critics wrote him off as a none starter.

Lempurkel proved them wrong when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced that he had trounced at least four other candidates to win the seat on an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party ticket.

But there are many sides to Lempurkel.

When in his Laikipia North constituency, Lempurkel is an easy going man who effortlessly interacts with his elders and peers.

He is the kind of person who will mingle with a group of elders and spend hours chatting in Samburu language.

But beneath the veneer of social decorum lies another Lempurkel, one that is no stranger to controversy, the most  recent being court charges of assaulting his political rival, United Republican Party (URP) Nominated MP Sarah Lekorere.

HARSHEST CRITIC

Lekorere, who is eyeing the Laikipia North MP’s seat, has been one of the politician’s harshest critics, accusing him of, among other things, belittling and demeaning women.

Before his election as MP, Lempurkel was a renowned philanthropist, the executive director of Ndugu Zangu Christian Community Charitable Trust.

The Catholic Church-based organisation was instrumental in changing the lives of thousands of children with heart problems, who it sponsored for surgeries in leading cardiac hospitals in Italy among other parts of the world.

The organisation further helped pipe water from the Ewaso Nyiro River to far-flung areas of Ol Donyiro and Kipsing in Isiolo county, among other multi-million shilling development projects.

But even then, Lempurkel was not far removed from controversy.

Shortly before the 2007 General Election, he was arrested for insulting an area district commissioner. It was not established how the matter ended but he was not arraigned in court.

In September 2014, the MP caused a stir when he was kicked out of an Emirates Airline for allegedly demanding to be served a Kenyan beer.

The MP was barred from flying to Europe for allegedly being drunk and disorderly. He was forced to disembark from the plane at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after the pilot reportedly declared him a “rogue passenger.”

Mr Lempurkel was to accompany a group of MPs who were headed to Austria. Sources said he boarded the plane while drunk.

An MP who accompanied Lempurkel and who sought anonymity said the lawmaker demanded to be served with a certain brand of Kenyan beer.

The MP said the plane had been delayed for about 10 minutes while waiting for the MP, only for him to board and start a fuss over beer.

ROGUE PASSENGER

“Other passengers had boarded and we had to wait for him to board, but he came in drunk. He immediately demanded to be served with a local beer, but the crew told him they could only serve alcohol when the plane was airborne,” said the MP.

“The pilot declared he would not fly a rogue passenger and the MP was thrown out,” said the source.

According to the source, the plane, which was supposed to take off at 11.50am, was delayed further after the incident.

However, Lempurkel denied being drunk but confirmed that he was to travel and had boarded the plane but left in protest due to “discrimination”.

The MP said he had only taken four bottles of beer when the plane arrived.

“I asked to be served with the beer I was taking, but the crew claimed they do not serve beer but wine. I felt discriminated,” he said.

He denied creating any disturbance inside the plane.

Later in October the same year, Lempurkel was caught up in more drama, this time during a fundraiser for Mukogodo women group, where he snatched a microphone from Laikipia County MP Jane Apollos, demanding to be the master of ceremonies.

The event, graced by National Assembly Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso, area Senator G.G Kariuki and MPs, Anthony Mutahi (Laikipia East) Dr Wachira Karani (Laikipia West), Joseph Samal (Isiolo North) among others, had been organised by his rival, Lekorere, and Lempurkel had not been invited.

But he defended himself saying he was the area elected MP and protocol demanded that he serve as the MC.

In August last year, more controversy dogged the MP at his former workplace, Ndugu Zangu Christian Community headquarters in Ol Donyiro, Isiolo, after members of the community held him hostage in the premises for 24 hours.

Lempurkel had allegedly travelled to the offices accompanied by a court server and some police officers to serve current administrators of the Charity group, Alessandro Vanunuci, Michael Tarlao, Michela Panzeri, with court orders barring them from office.

This followed a protracted battle over the management of the organisation.

But when the community got wind of his visit, they hurriedly gathered at the gate and threatened to lynch the MP, who had allegedly impounded some electronics and a vehicle from the offices.

Ironically, it was his political rival, Lekorere, who drove to Ol Donyiro, about 80km from Nanyuki, to rescue the MP from the angry residents baying for his blood.

During a homecoming party for Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, Lempurkel told President Uhuru Kenyatta to his face that he was in ODM to stay.



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