President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have been dragged into the debate on Mau evictions by rival factions in Jubilee. The camps are accusing each other of exploiting the suffering of families for political gain.
Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny yesterday clashed on whether the evictions to conserve the water tower had been sanctioned by the Cabinet, even though neither of them sits in the meeting of ministers.
The contested evictions turned into political fodder after Mr Kutuny accused Dr Ruto of using the evictions as a political tool for the 2022 General Election.
He asked Jubilee leaders to avoid politising the evictions as this risks further destabilising the already troubled ruling party.
But in a quick rejoinder, Mr Murkomen claimed that the eviction of about 60,000 people from the Mau Forest Complex was illegal since it had not been approved by the Cabinet.
Murkomen claimed Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko and some politicians from the region were trying to drive a wedge between the President and his deputy through the evictions.
“Uhuru’s government has not made any decision on eviction of people in the area; the Government has not made a decision to burn people’s houses. I can confirm that there was no Cabinet meeting over the matter.”
Murkomen claimed that some individuals were working to create the impression that Uhuru and Ruto are divided over the issue of restoring the forest.
“These people who pretend to be closer to Uhuru are doing him a disservice. Kutuny and Tobiko should be investigated for trying to create an impression that there is a government by Uhuru and another by Ruto,” he added.
Murkomen further sensationally claimed that Tobiko did not support Uhuru in the last elections and could be working with some people to wreck the Jubilee party, as well as create a rift among communities in the area.
The senator, who is a key Ruto ally, made the remarks in response to claims by Kutuny that the DP was using the Mau evictions to whip up the emotions of the affected families for political gain.
Kutuny claimed the DP was not genuine over the contested eviction, saying he should have raised the matter in a Cabinet meeting instead of using political proxies to fight the Government initiative.
The legislator added that Ruto had succeeded before in using the issue for political support, citing the 2013 General Election when the community revolted against the then Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, for pushing for the evictions.
“We cannot subject our people to misery for political gain. We cannot allow you to use your proxies to fight one side of the Government.”
Kutuny, who is one of the fiercest Ruto critics, challenged the DP to spend the money he donates every weekend to support those affected in the exercise if he was concerned about their suffering.
He also asked the DP to come out and make his position on the matter public.
The two leaders spoke at Parliament buildings separately, following the Government’s decision to reopen schools in the water catchment area.
Kutuny also challenged Murkomen to table the matter in the Senate for debate instead of inciting families to defy eviction orders.
The vocal legislator said since the first batch of settlers were relocated to Uasin Gishu, Kericho and Nakuru, there had been no effort to resolve the matter once and for all.
He also insisted that the Mau Complex be reserved, which can only be achieved through local leaders addressing the plight of their people.