Political parties dispute tribunal annuls expulsion of six Jubilee senators

Millicent Omanga is one of the six nominated senators who was expelled from the Jubilee Party in February 2021 over alleged indiscipline. [Courtesy]

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday suffered yet another blow after his quest to expel errant party members allied to Deputy President William Ruto was declared illegal by the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal.

The ruling Jubilee Party in February expelled nominated senators Isaac Mwaura, Mary Seneta, Falhada Dekow Iman, Naomi Jillo Waqo, Victor Prengei and Millicent Omanga.

Mwaura last month obtained an order from the High Court stopping his expulsion after PPDT ruled against him.

The latest development comes just a day after Jubilee climbed down on its onslaught against Ruto allies, who have since switched camp to United Democratic Alliance (UDA) in preparations for the 2022 General Elections.

Jubilee Vice Chairperson David Murathe on Tuesday told The Standard that Uhuru’s wing had decided to go slow on the outfit and to allow them popularise their new outfit.

It also comes against the backdrop of a reported split in Uhuru’s push to end pre-election pact with the Party of Development and Reforms (PDR), which rebranded to UDA. Some of the party officials have termed the process of ending the pact as tedious and unnecessary.

Murathe said that they had decided not to have any further conversation about the Jubilee-UDA pre-election pact as they want to focus on building Jubilee ahead of Uhuru's succession.

“In our heads, UDA is no longer a partner in Jubilee. So there is no need for further conversation on this matter,” said Mr Murathe.

He further said that the ruling party had decided to let UDA allied MPs go on with their political activities in preparations for the next poll.

“Some people felt they should be allowed to grow their party and we also grow ours. We don’t expect them to be involved in our party activities. We also don’t expect them to be involved in our activities. We will let them, but they will have to continue making subscriptions to the party,” said Murathe.

He said it was unnecessary to expel them at the moment when the country only has one year to the next General Elections.

“It is now up to them to decide if they want to continue with UDA that may occasion by-elections, which we think is not necessary now that we only have one year to the next General Election,” said Murathe.

Yesterday the tribunal ruled that Jubilee Party never followed its constitution while expelling six senators allied to  Ruto.

While quashing the ruling party’s verdict, the PPDT found that the Senators were not summoned, instead, they appeared before the disciplinary committee in the belief that the complaints against them had been dropped.

According to the tribunal, it was unfair for Jubilee not to give nominated Senators a chance to effectively rebut the claims as the former majority whip had informed them through a text message that the party had opted to let go.

“ A declaration is hereby issued that the decision to expel the applicants was unlawful and against the Jubilee Constitution,” the tribunal headed by chaired by Desma Nungo.

Other tribunal members are Hassan Abdi, James Atemi, Adelide Mbithi, Milly Lwanga Odongo and Paul Ngotho.
Meanwhile, the six are not yet out of the woods as PPDT ruled Jubilee can still initiate a fresh disciplinary process but follow the law.

Jubilee Party through Secretary-General Raphael Tuju on expelled the senators for contravening the party’s constitution by announcing allegiance to UDA.

Tuju had announced that the expulsion would take effect immediately and informed the registrar of political parties to strike out the names of the six senators from the list of Jubilee Party members.

But the senators through two separate petitions filed through lawyer Hillary Sigei argued that the decision was illegal since they were not accorded a fair hearing by the Jubilee Party disciplinary committee.

Mwaura filed his own petition while Senators Omanga, Waqo, Yiane,Prengei and Dekow filed a joint application.
Mwaura in his application claimed that the decision to expel him contravened the party’s constitution since the disciplinary process against him was initiated without any written and signed complaint.

“My expulsion was malicious with no justifiable reason. The committee relied on unauthenticated information to arrive at the preconceived outcome without giving me sufficient time to defend myself,” said Mwaura.

Sigei argued that the other five senators were also ambushed with unsubstantiated allegations and that their disciplinary proceedings were initiated through vague show cause letters which did not disclose any violation of the party’s constitution.

According to Sigei, the party’s decision to take action against the five senators for failing to attend a parliamentary group meeting in May last year was discriminatory since many other senators allied to Deputy President William Ruto also boycotted the event.

He added that at the time the disciplinary proceedings were conducted, the party’s central management committee was not properly constituted and could not transact any business.

“There was no disciplinary process conducted against the senators. On the contrary, they were told to attend a consultative meeting at the party headquarters which turned out to be a disciplinary hearing where they were not given an opportunity to defend themselves,” said Sigei.

Omanga in her affidavit swore that they were not given enough time to seek legal advice against the allegations of misconduct and that they were targeted for being nominated senators while their elected colleagues who also defied the party’s position were spared.

She added that they have never disrespected the party or its leadership and that the decision to expel them was out of malice to settle political scores.

“The malicious, illegal and unprocedural disciplinary action that led to our expulsion has caused us untold agony and psychological torture and suffering. The process was a clear abuse of power and against rules of natural justice,” said Omanga.

The tribunal gave the party seven days to respond to the applications and scheduled February 16 for a hearing.
Tuju last evening said he had not been briefed of the ruling but indicated that the ruling party may consider appealing the decision.

He said they will respect the ruling by the tribunal but will consult on whether to appeal it.

“I am hearing it from you. But I have to make it clear that we will respect the ruling. As a party we will consult on whether we should exploit our right to appeal the decision,” said Tuju.

senators Seneta, Iman, Waqo, Prengei and  Omanga were expelled for skipping a State House Senate Parliamentary Group meeting that kicked out Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika from Senate Majority Leader and Majority Whip respectively. It also led to the removal of Deputy Speaker Prof Kithure Kindiki over the same issue.

Mwaura on the other hand was expelled for supporting the ideology of another party while being disloyal to the party leader.

The party, in making the decision to expel Mwaura, said that it had sufficient evidence showing Mwaura praising the ideology of a different political party, being welcomed into a fray by the chairman of the said party and subsequently being donned with the outfit’s branded cap.