You brought ridicule to your office, MPs scold Gachagua over KQ flight

DP Rigathi Gachagua. [DPCS]

The differences between President William Ruto and his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua played out on the floor of the House as legislators from across the political divide waded into the public disunity displayed by the duo.

It began after Nyando MP Jared Okelo sought a statement from the Leader of Majority Kimani Ichung’wah on whether all was well within the ruling Kenya Kwanza Alliance.  

“We have lately seen discordant voices especially emanating from the Presidency, the Cabinet Secretaries and others along that chain. Whereas I would be least concerned about what happens within Kenya Kwanza, when this matter has the potential to create disunity within our country, I am very much concerned,” said Okelo.  

He also referenced Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s choice to take a commercial flight to Mombasa on Wednesday where the DP was hauling his own bag to the Kenya Airways aircraft, much to the dismay of Kenyans.  

“This House appropriates and budgets for travels of the Deputy President and at no given time do we envisage that he takes a commercial flight. But if he does so it is incumbent upon this House to reduce his budget,” stated Okelo.

Adding: “Whereas this government is barely two years in office, we have listened to quite disdainful statements from the office of the DP. I urge that the majority leader sheds more light over this issue as they touch on Kenyans as consumers of government services.”

Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang, however, sought to halt the debate on Gachagua and faulted the Speaker for allowing the debate of persons not before the Plenary without a substantive motion.

“Mr Speaker, I have heard names being named here. You are the biggest advocate for protection that persons must not be named here without a substantive motion…There is nothing that stops them (UDA) from dragging the DP here and impeaching him,” he said.

 “Why should we divert the business of this House and enter into some politics? We know the politics you are playing. We do not want to turn this place into a political arena. We know that this matter has been choreographed,” he added.

Minority Chief Whip Junet Mohammed, however, held the view that the House was justified in seeking an explanation for Gachagua’s  “antics” at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport (JKIA) on Tuesday, arguing that it brought disdain to the office.

“What puzzled me was the kind of bag he was carrying; the bag was not for the caliber of a Deputy President. The other thing that struck me in the episode was what was the content of the bag given that his security detail was not allowed to hold it,” said Junet.

The ODM-allied legislator emphasised that the DP should be held accountable for his actions and dared him to resign instead of bringing the institution into disrepute.

 “You cannot demean the office you are holding and hope to attract respect and dignity. If you want to politic that’s fine but not to the extent of demeaning the office of the Deputy President,” he added.

Junet further urged Gachagua to address his grievances “through the right government channels” instead of playing out episodes which have degraded the office of the Deputy President.

Security detail

Mombasa Woman Rep Zamzam Mohammed struck a reconciliatory tone and called on President Ruto and his Deputy to sort out their differences. She also protested what she termed as a lack of security detail by Gachagua during the Tuesday flight.

 “We have a problem in our nation and the President and Deputy President should have a sit-down for these issues to come to an end…What we saw from the Deputy President yesterday where he had no security was unfortunate,” Zamzam said.

Manyatta MP John Mukunji joined Okelo in asking that the Leader of Majority Kimani Ichung’wah share the details on the contentious move.

 “I was worried when I saw the DP carrying his own bag, if I was there, I would have towed it for him. I feel like this is an issue that the Majority Leader should tell this house why that was the case,” he stated.

Speaker Moses Wetangula consequently directed that Ichung’wah gets to the bottom of whether Gachagua’s office was furnished with an adequate budget and what had informed the situation at JKIA.

“The Majority Leader should assure this House that the office of the Deputy President is provided with resources to ensure that Gachagua discharges his duties and responsibilities in a manner that brings honour and responsibility to the office,” Wetangula said.

And in a quick rejoinder, Ichungwa confirmed that the DP’s office alongside other high-level state offices have been adequately facilitated  “Gachagua’s office has enough budget for air transportation both fixed airwing, the helicopters or even to travel by the sea or even to travel by SGR or Coast Bus,” said the MP.

Ichung’wah, Kikuyu MP, further noted that there was “nothing unusual” with Gachagua using a commercial airline observing that his boss, President Ruto, had often done the same.

He, however, castigated the Gachagua’s “need for show” and accused him of trying to gather sympathy votes from the public. Further, he dispelled the notion that Gachagua was without his security detail, stating that the DP was accompanied by 14 officers who include Recce security officers and his press service detail.

“Its not unusual for the DP to travel by our national carriage, Kenya Airways, I have witnessed our President when he was a Deputy use Kenya Airways, infact last week he used it when he travelled to South Korea, he just didn’t post it,” submitted Ichungwa.

At the same time, Ichung’wah moved to set the record straight on the incident where Gachagua was denied access to a military aircraft.

He brought to the fore that only the President and the First Lady Rachel Ruto are entitled to use military aircraft with the Deputy President entitled to a police aircraft.

“The police aircraft for the Deputy President is still under maintenance and soon the Defence CS will have finalised on the maintenance. It is operated by Kenya Airforce pilots so that we can assure the DP’s safety,” he explained.

The MP further called on Gachagua to embrace austerity measures and embrace a reduction in travel expenditure.

 “The Deputy President was very safe and the President said that state officials should embrace austerity measures as the presidency had cut their budget. I want to urge the President and Prime Cabinet Secretary to bear in mind we are in a tough situation,” he said.