Allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have clashed over the alleged plot to impeach Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, threatening a major political face-off in Parliament.
MPs allied to Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday dared Ruto’s camp to bring on the censure motion against Dr Matiang’i so as to prove who has the numerical strength in the House.
Some of the MPs claimed Matiang’i was being targeted by allies of the deputy president since he could be a surprise presidential candidate in 2022 General Election.
Ruto’s camp confirmed having issues with the conduct of the CS, citing his alleged involvement in the gold scandal and the Ruaraka land saga which took place when he was in charge of Education ministry.
A report by the National Assembly on the Ruaraka land saga did not find fault on Matiangi’s action. Another by the Senate that had adversely mentioned him was rejected.?
Belgut MP Nelson Koech – who was cited by Minority Leader John Mbadi as the one tasked to collect signatures to initiate the impeachment process – yesterday said there was an “ongoing discussion over the matter”, stating that the public will know much when National Assembly resumes next month.
He said they are not “petty” to initiate a process when there was no solid grounds for removal of a State official.
“Some of us believe that CS Matiang’i has overstepped his mandate and I can tell you that there is a lot of consultation going on,” said Mr Koech.
“There are a lot of issues, not necessarily about the fake gold. It should also come out clear that we are not petty to target an individual if we don’t have any grounds,” he added.
Matiang’i has in the meantime maintained a studious silence over the ongoing fake gold saga. “You don’t expect me to respond to whether fraudsters mentioned my name in what is an active investigations,” he told a section of the Media when the story was first reported last week.
The Standard has learnt that Ruto allies are furious with Matiang’i and his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho over claims that their offices were being used to undermine DP’s presidential bid.
The MPs are also itching to revenge against the CS after they were targeted in the recent withdrawals of their security officers. Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa said the Interior CS has made so many enemies in Parliament due to his “abrasive” nature thus many MPs may support the censure motion, including ODM members.
He said they will cite as many issues as possible to get the backing of MPs from across the political divide.
But Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and Nandi Senator Samsom Cherargei denied there was a plot targeting Matiang’i, terming the claims by Mbadi as political sideshows aimed at diverting attention from the gold scandal.
Mr Cherargei, however, said there were reservations about how the CS discharges his duties, stating that MPs have a right to invoke their powers, including impeachment.
“There is no any such plan and I can say it is fake as the gold,” said Cherargei.
Murkomen dismissed Mbadi, saying he is playing to the public gallery to please his masters as well as to win the confidence of some officers in Government for business opportunity.
“Mbadi is fighting fictitious war in an act of blind sycophancy to please his master and deflect serious questions from the real prime suspect as they outdo each other with Wanga in viscous fight for Homa Bay governorship,” said the Elgeyo Marakwet senator in reference to MP’s perceived supremacy war with Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga.
Nominated MP David Sankok said any government official involved in the gold scam will have no choice but to resign.
“I am not aware of any impeachment motion at the moment but what I know is that anybody implicated in the gold scandal will have to leave office. As Parliament, we will ensure they leave office even if it means moving impeachment motion,” said Sankok.
Mbadi on Monday claimed the MPs were seeking to use the presence of security officers at a gold den in Kileleshwa as a basis of pursuing a charge of gross misconduct against the CS.
But he said they would scuttle any such attempt when Parliament resumes next month.
Mbadi said Opposition MPs and their Jubilee counterparts allied to the President would not accept blackmail of State officials.
“If they want Matiang’i out, their grounds must be solid because we will not support his removal on flimsy grounds. I can tell you we are going to resist any attempts to remove the CS,” he said during a Press conference at his Parliament Buildings office.
Yesterday, MPs drawn from Gusii and Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu told the Tangatanga brigade that they will outwit them should they bring the matter.
Wambugu said Uhuru and Raila enjoy huge numbers in Parliament and that it would be an embarrassment for Ruto allies to bring such a motion.
“I know they don’t like Matiang’i because he does not conform to their kind of politics of using government projects to buy political support, and he has made it clear that he only takes instructions from the President. This has annoyed Ruto’s camp,” said Mr Wambugu.
Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka said those behind the impeachment plot fear that Matiang’i might be the surprise candidate for President in 2022 who will be supported by Uhuru.
Onyonka said Gusii leaders have been aware for some time that such machinations are in place since Matiang’i was elevated by Uhuru to supervise the work of all ministries.
“Some people are very afraid that given that Dr Matiang’i is a performer, he might be picked by Uhuru as his preferred successor in 2022. That is why they want to fix him with the fake gold scandal,” said Onyonka.
Bomachoge Borabu Zadock Ogutu said those linking the CS to gold syndicate were playing cheap politics since they were not happy with the good work that he has been doing.
Mr Ogutu asked those who want to link Matiang’i with the scandal to wait for investigations to be complete to establish the real culprits.
“All elected leaders in Kisii and Nyamira counties are fully behind our son Dr Matiang’i who is doing a good job as Interior CS. Those fighting him are fighting the community,” said Ogutu.
Nyamira Woman Representative Jerusha Momanyi cautioned her fellow MPs not to play politics with gold scam, but instead give investigative agencies a chance to unravel those behind it.
Bonchari MP John Oyioka said Interior CS had not done anything wrong to warrant being impeached.