Fresh plot to sack Ruto allies from top posts in Parliament

Kikuyu MP, Kimani Ichungwa arriving at Parliament for the National Assembly Special Sitting yesterday. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The civil war in the ruling Jubilee party intensified yesterday with one of the President Uhuru Kenyatta’s closest allies promising a shake-up of leadership in Parliament to kick out “saboteurs”.

Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe said National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and his Senate counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen will be replaced with those supporting the President’s agenda.

Also targeted are whips and committee chairs allied to the deputy president.

“The President wants to have people who will back his agenda and push through government policy in Parliament. This is not what Ruto allies are doing. Murkomen and others are sabotaging the President’s agenda,” Murathe said.

The former Gatanga MP has publicly opposed Ruto’s bid for presidency in 2022 and says President Kenyatta wants to secure his legacy with leaders who believe in him.

“Loyalty in Parliament is key to achieving the President’s legacy. So all those with questionable loyalty will be removed. We can’t tolerate a leader like Murkomen who goes to State House to witness Nairobi Governor Gideon Mbuvi Sonko hand over instruments of running the city, then goes back to the floor of the House to oppose it,” Murathe said.

Murkomen easy target

He said it’ll be easy to remove Murkomen because his position is not supported by law. “Section 107 and 108 of the Constitution have no provision for the position of Leader of Majority in the Senate. It says there shall be a majority leader of Parliament. So it suffices to have one in the National Assembly. So we will abolish the Senate position and replace the current leader in the National Assembly,” Murathe said.

He said this will ensure that only people who are ready to support the President hold these positions.

“We are going to do what we did in the party. We replaced Fatuma Shukri who has gone to the Independent Police Oversight Authority and Pamela Mutua who is now advisor of Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter. They are on government payroll and can’t have two salaries,” Murathe said.

He said the changes will allow the Ruto team time to do politics and not scuttle government business.

“Ruto is not with the President. You have not seen him during this fight against the coronavirus pandemic. He is only focused on his ambition for presidency in 2022. So we want to give him time to campaign as we focus on delivering our mandate to Kenyans,” Murathe said.

Murathe’s bombshell is expected to further complicate the relationship between Uhuru and his deputy.

He accused Ruto of mobilising MPs to write to the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu to protest the reconstitution of the party’s National Management Committee (NMC).

“Ruto is calling MPs at night urging them to write to the Registrar of Political Parties. The party changes are a done deal. A hundred MPs have no muscle than the six million party members who are with the President,” Murathe said.

Yesterday, Ms Nderitu in a statement said the procedure for notification of changes or amendment of party particulars, including officials, is outlined under section 20 (1-3A) of the Political Parties Act as read together with Political Parties (Registration) Regulations.

“The office will collate and analyse the submissions received as soon as it is practically possible and deal with the submissions as per the laid down procedure and the law,” said Nderitu.

Murathe said the party changes have been backed by other leaders of smaller political parties that folded and joined Jubilee. Indeed, one of them, Kalembe Ndile has said he supports President Kenyatta for initiating the changes.

“We were 12 Parties that folded to form Jubilee Party. All leaders of 11 Parties that folded are okay with the move, only ex-URP leader is not happy,” said Ndile.

Asked what he thinks about the proposed changes National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale (Garissa Town) said he is not perturbed by Murathe’s sentiments.

“I don’t play the same political league with Murathe and doesn’t deserve my reply. Am not his guest in the Jubilee Party, but a founder member and a shareholder,” said Duale.

Murkomen too did not have kind words for Murathe saying that he (Murathe) has no legal mechanism of enforcing threats.

No kind words for Murathe

“Murathe is a strange dog that thinks he is bigger than his master. He is too small for my radar to detect. He has no legal mechanism of enforcing his hollow threats. I lead my fellows senators whom I have the greatest respect and wonderful working relationships. Murathe should go engage his equals,” said Murkomen.

Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri a close ally of Uhuru has also indicated that there are looming parliamentary leadership changes.

“DP and his allies are trying to stop parliamentary leadership changes. Those who benefited from the DP’s manipulation of committees and top positions in Parliament in 2017 are afraid of eminent changes. But this is where the President is going next,” Ngunjiri said.

Ayub Savula (Lugari) who supports Uhuru said the changes were overdue, adding that the President must be allowed to govern the country without in-fights within the Government.

“We have only one President and he has to take charge. The President must be respected and be allowed to govern the country in a smooth manner. Those who do not respect the Government should quit,” said Savula.

National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman William Cheptumo (Baringo North), said any changes to the committees’ leadership is anchored in the Standing Orders.

Cheptumo, a close ally of the DP, was categorical that the President knows the law and any changes should not be speculated.

“I am not aware of the looming changes in Parliament. We don’t want to speculate. The President knows the procedure. The process of electing the chair and vice chairs are in the Standing Orders and if there is such intention, we’ll will do so in accordance with the Standing Orders,” said Cheptumo.