Tuju silent as Jubilee rift widens

Former Limuru MP George Nyanja. Mr Nyanja is in the eye of a storm over a recording of a conversation purportedly between him and Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju. [Lydiah Nyawira]

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s allies have defended Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju who has lately come under fire from Deputy President William Ruto’s camp.

Dr Ruto’s allies have capitalised on a leaked telephone recording, purportedly revealing Mr Tuju and former Limuru MP George Nyanja discussing a plot to demand Ruto’s ouster.

Former Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe interpreted this as an indirect attack on President Kenyatta, who he said appointed Tuju.

Tuju refused to comment on the calls to resign or clarify about the recording, but suggested the tape was manipulated.  

“I am out of the country. I will make myself available for a live TV interview as soon as possible to reduce the risk of being misquoted to add to the drama or to be recorded, then subjected to ‘deep-fake editing’ to convey a different meaning. I would welcome the opportunity to speak substance and truth and not just give a sound bite in response to party members who have talked in rallies,” he said.

Mr Murathe alleged a plot by Ruto’s camp for a hostile takeover of positions in the ruling party. He said the interim party constitution appointed the interim officials for three years which had not lapsed.

“That period ends next year and why can’t they wait for elections and take the seat?” Murathe said, adding that unlike him who resigned as he could not work with the Ruto team, Tuju should not be pushed out.

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“They should leave him alone because I don’t think he said anything wrong. They should be happy that Tuju reminded them that it’s time to heal the country by fundraising for that church. In any case, there are many options on the table and we can as well leave that party for them,” he said.

Murathe added: “It is true and everyone knows that a church was burnt with people inside at the height of 2007 post-election violence. Tuju just said that church should be rebuilt. He did nothing wrong.”

Igembe North MP Maoka Maore accused the Ruto camp of introducing a red herring to stoke fresh wars in Jubilee to overshadow the president’s recent harsh reprimand.

Water down

“The President pleaded three times at Kasarani ‘do you hear me?’ He asked for support to take the country where we elected him as per his vision/manifesto. Those who have put up the Tuju name are deliberately doing it now to water down the President’s message,” Mr Maore said.

He added: “It’s an excuse to persist with politicking at the expense of unity and development. The tapes are a red herring for rattling Jubilee. After Murathe’s exit, Tuju should be left to do his work.” 

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda, who is allied to team Kieleweke, dismissed those calling for Tuju’s exit saying the conversation in the alleged tape is not in any way offensive.

“What Tuju and Nyanja are discussing on that audio has nothing wrong. They are simply wondering why instead of wandering around the country splashing cash, someone can’t start by rebuilding the church that was razed down. Is that a crime?” Mr Kamanda remarked.

“If I were Tuju, that’s not something to bother me to resign. Some of those Ruto sycophants asking for (Tuju’s) resignation don’t care about (the DP’s) 2022 bid but about the money they are minting from him. So Tuju should ignore them.”  

Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny said the attacks portray the DP as a man of double-speak, coming just a day after assuring the President that he is going to unite the party but then goes public and attacks the secretary general.

“This could be intentional to eliminate people closer to the President from the party and we will not allow it. As the second senior-most figure in the party, he knows well that if there are any issues, there are internal mechanisms to address them and not in political rallies,” Mr Kutuny said.  

Ruto and his team over the weekend sustained calls to have Tuju resign for allegedly being used to wreck the party from within and sowing seeds of discord.

“I want to ask officials of Jubilee Party to concentrate on the Jubilee manifesto of uniting and developing the country and not to allow themselves be used to bring chaos, hatred and tribalism within our party,” Ruto said on Saturday.

Funds drive

In the said tape, two people alleged to be Tuju and Nyanja are heard saying they will soon organise a funds drive to help rebuild the Kiambaa Kenya Assemblies of God (KAG) Church in Uasin Gishu that was torched during post-election violence 11 years. Thirty-four people were killed in the blaze. 

Lawyer Donald Kipkorir defended Tuju saying; “Because of a deep fake audio, they (are now saying that) Hon. Raphael Tuju doesn’t belong to Jubilee but ODM ... The subliminal message was that as a Luo he doesn’t belong in Jubilee .... And the next day, they will tell us Jubilee is a National Party ... Go tell that to the birds!”

However, Ruto allies including MPs Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu), Nelson Koech (Belgut), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Robert Pukose (Endebess) and Fred Kapondi (Mt Elgon) insisted Tuju must quit or be sacked.

Mr Ichung’wah said: “Don’t tell us that the recording is a forgery. You can’t undermine and sabotage the road President Uhuru Kenyatta has set out.”

“We want you to come out and disown that video. Failure to do that we will confirm that the President, his deputy and members have no issues…the problem is with the party official,” said Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot.

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Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael TujuPresident KenyattaDavid Murathe