Rift Valley rebel MPs yesterday said efforts by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to have them removed from the leadership of Parliament committees were futile.
The MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Silas Tiren (Moiben), Kangogo Bowen (Marakwet East) have threatened to ditch Jubilee Party and form or join another party.
They said the dispute was still pending in court.
On Thursday, President Kenyatta and his deputy hosted MPs who are members of the Environment and Natural Resources, Agriculture and Livestock, Labour and Parliamentary Broadcasting Committees and asked them to reject their leaders (See separate story).
Granted stay order
Mr Keter was elected Labour Committee chairman, Mr Tiren, Agriculture and Livestock Committee, Mr James Gakuya, Broadcasting Committee and Mr Kangogo Bowen was elected to head the Environment, Water and Mineral Resources committee. The leaders went to court to challenge attempts to remove them from the House teams and were granted stay order.
Yesterday, Keter dismissed legislators who agreed to be bullied into submission by the President saying they need to undergo medical tests, since they admitted they were not in the right frame of mind when they went to the polls.
“Uhuru should let MPs decide for themselves the same way we are not interfering with his decision to choose Cabinet Secretaries,” said the Nandi Hills MP.
He said on the issue of parliamentary committee chair, the horse has bolted from the stable and his focus is now on addressing labour related issues in the country.
Cannot be intimidated
“Those insisting that I should resign know my vigour in fighting for the downtrodden and against corruption and are scared that I would rattle the cartels especially those at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF),” said Keter.
The MP said he enjoyed the support of parliamentarians who elected him chair and he would disappoint them by stepping aside.
Addressing a press briefing at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi yesterday, Keter claimed corruption cartels were misleading the Head of State over the issue and vowed not to relent in his quest to lead the committee.
“Corruption cartels are uncomfortable with colleagues and I leading the committees. The decision to support the cartels makes us more energised,” he said.
“Parliament is an independent institution and cannot be intimidated by anyone. Our matter is still pending in court and it was wrong in the first place for President Kenyatta to summon MPs to discuss our issue,” he added.
Keter explained that it is sad that corruption cartels are misleading the President.
Tiren said he was a ‘quiet person’ who does not like trouble but he hates being taken for granted.
“If you rattle me then I will come out to make myself clear. I cannot be a pushover and I will remain chairman of the committee, as elected by MPs. They elected me chair of the Livestock and Agriculture committee and there is no way I will be pushed out,” he said.
He said he has passion for agriculture and knows what ails the sector and we will support the relevant ministries to achieve food security in line with Jubilee Big Four plan and improve farmers livelihood.
“I respect the President and his deputy, but also I was elected by the people of Moiben to represent them in Parliament and I wonder what I will tell them if I step down from this position which actually touches on their lives directly because they are farmers and I must remain steadfast and true to them,” Tiren said.
“We are not going to allow some few individuals to to frustrate what the majority have passed. These people want to import substandard commodities like fertiliser, maize and even sugar to this country. That’s the issue here, nothing like regional balancing,” he claimed.
On his part Bowen said the matter was not about regional balance but their ouster is being pushed by individuals who have business interests.
“Jubilee government had promised the people of this country during campaign period that their first agenda was to deliver services but we as Kalenjins are being profiled in Jubilee,” said the MP.
Bowen claimed: “I am in Jubilee to stay because I was elected to present the views of my people. What I know is that the Jubilee Party leadership in the House is working for our downfall because they have been dealing with cartels to enrich themselves.”
Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny called for amicable solution to the matter saying the Thursday directive was null and void given that the matter was in the High Court.
“It was wrong to use MPs meeting at State House to fight their four colleagues, that was a storm in the cup, but as it is now, it can easily create a fall out in the party, top party leaders must refrain from highhandedness and the four legislators should also refrain from threatening the party,” said Kutuny.
Genesis of the problem
He said the genesis of the problem was the National Assembly leadership who talked down on the MPs creating a spirit of resistance.
During the State House meeting, President Kenyatta said Jubilee MPs who were elected against the party’s wish were ‘selfish’.
“The President was very clear that he wants to have the Jubilee House leaders reflect the face of the country.”
According to the legislator, Kenyatta singled out Keter accusing him of being ‘selfish’ for not only vying for the chairperson post of the Labour committee, but also ensuring a NASA MP becomes his deputy.
Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma) was elected the committee vice chair during the polls after she joined forces with the Nandi Hills MP, beating Jubilee’s Joyce Korir (Bomet).
[Reports by Jacob Ng’etich, Peter Ochieng and Silah Koskei]