What started as a political adventure on February 10 has degenerated into a vicious battle in Jubilee party leadership pitting the former President Uhuru Kenyatta against his political mentees.
It was a meeting by a faction party’s National Executive Committee held at Nakuru, two days after the Jubilee elected MPs visited President William Ruto at State House.
The meeting resolved to suspend the party’s Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni, Vice chairperson David Murathe and National Treasurer Kagwe Gichohi.
They were replaced by MPs Kanini Kega (EALA), Adan Keynan (Eldas) and Racheal Nyamai (Kitui South).
The party’s top organ also resolved to initiate efforts to leave the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition headed by Raila Odinga and Uhuru.
Kega and Nominated MP Sabina Chege who initiated the move were dismissed as political toddlers but they have surprised many by forcing Uhuru out of retirement to defend his party.
It was the start of a political chess game pitting the government, Azimio and the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties ORPP.
It was a letter by the Registrar of Political Parties Ann Nderitu dated February 13, which endorsed the decision to suspend Kioni, Murathe and Gichohi, which forced them to rush to the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal on February 14.
On April 19, the PPDT through its chairperson Desma Nungo quashed the registrar’s decision giving them a reprieve. The tribunal referred them to the party’s internal dispute mechanism.
Nine days later, Uhuru moved to save Jubilee’s soul and convened a National Executive Committee (NEC) which resolved to replace the rebel members and also agreed to hold their National Delegates Conference (NDC) on May 22.
In the minutes seen by The Sunday Standard, the NEC also removed Ms Wambui Gichuru and Nelson Dzuya in their capacities as Executive Director and National Chairman respectively “due to their unavailability hence challenges in paying of staff salaries and other recurrent and fixed costs for the last three months.”
Bank account signatories
Uhuru alongside Murathe, Kioni, Gichohi and Polycarp Hinga were enlisted as the party’s bank account signatories.
When Kioni sent the NEC resolutions to the registrar, she in a letter dated May 19, objected the resolutions citing lack of quorum.
“The composition of NEC is provided under article 8.2 of the constitution as 28 officials and the list of attendees Hon Maishon Leshomo and Polycarp Hinga who were yet to assume office,” read the letter in part.
“Owing to the above, the resolutions emanating from the April 28 meeting can’t stand for lack of quorum,” it added.
Other than the two, Uhuru had only managed to convince seven out of 18 officials but he required at least nine without counting the two new officials.
On May 2, the Kega-led faction held a NEC meeting and resolved to remove Uhuru as the party leader and replaced him with Chege and on May 19, the same faction met and reiterated their move to expel the ‘errant’ Jubilee members.
Although the Kega’s faction had obtained orders from Jubilee’s Internal Disputes Resolution Committee (IDRC) stopping Uhuru from conducting the NDC, he went ahead and conducted the meeting and declared an all-out fight to retain his party.
In what is now the bone of contention, the registrar okayed the decision to remove the three from the party membership list at a time when Kioni claimed to have served her with PPDT stay orders.
Kioni, in an interview with The Sunday Standard, accused Nderitu of backdating letters to appease her alleged masters.
“She has been co-opted in partisan and illegal schemes by Kenya Kwanza administration to kill democracy. I served her the conservatory orders on May 22 at 17:10pm while she sent her approval letter of my ouster at 19:04 pm,” he said hinting at pressing contempt of court charges against Nderitu.
“The office which should be an arbiter in the political industry is in bed with the ruling party, we shall summon our supporters to go to streets since it seems that is the only language this regime understands,” said Kioni.
However, Nderitu defended herself saying she was only following the law and that her decision to approve the decision by the Kega faction was backed by the law.
On the issue of service, Nderitu said based on Civil Procedure Rules, Kioni’s service on stay orders to her through email had been overtaken by events.
“I was served with the PPDT orders at 5pm but the law states that any service past that time is considered to have been made the day that follows. I had approved the Jubilee’s NEC decision on May 19,” insisted Nderitu.
She maintained that although the matter is at the tribunal, her office expunged their names from the Jubilee Party register.
On his part, Kega laughed off claims by Kioni’s faction claiming while they studied the law to understand the judicial procedures, Kioni and Uhuru opted to play politics over the matter.
“While Kioni and our former party leader joined Raila in the streets, we have been articulate in adhering to the law and that is why independent bodies agree with our decision, we shall have the last laugh,” Kega told The Sunday Standard.
Kega maintained that Kioni, Murathe and Gichohi’s fight is to be reinstated as members and not as party leaders.
Dzuya, who supports the Kega faction, has also waded into the matter, saying no political party leader is usually a bank signatory.
“The resolutions of the April 28 purported NEC meeting were illegal having been blocked by an order from the party organ and the registrar, some of the resolutions like having a party leader to be included in the bank signatories would require amendment of the party constitution,” Dzuya said.
However, lawyer Ndegwa Njiru, who was co-opted in the party’s disciplinary committee by Uhuru’s faction, defended the former President maintaining that no party constitution clause prohibits the party leader from summoning the NDC.
“The party constitution does not envisage the position of the acting party leader since only the delegates can remove and strip the party leader from his or her position. The registrar is to blame for fueling the Jubilee wars,” he said.
In the meantime, Kioni and his team are battling for their stay at Jubilee at the tribunal.