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Is Alfred Keter's fast-rising political career finally on the rocks?

By Alphonce Shiundu | January 27th 2015

Alfred Keter, the first-time MP for Nandi Hills constituency, and a vocal critic of his Jubilee coalition leaders, is no stranger to controversy and never shies away from speaking his mind.

He has on many occasions torn into Jubilee leaders, accusing them of not ‘returning a hand’ to the people of Rift Valley for voting them into power.

For the time he has been in Parliament, the young MP has never found himself, at least publicly, on the wrong side of the law, but he has rubbed State House the wrong way on many occasions, with the most memorable being the allegations about the awarding of the Standard Gauge Railway contract. 

But the MP’s downfall may have come on Saturday night when he engaged in a heated exchange of words with officers manning the Gilgil weighbridge.

Within four minutes of his altercation with the officers, the lawmaker had used one derogatory word at least eight times.

A furious Mr Keter told the officials to “tell your boss he is stupid” and vowed to “break the law when (he) wants” because as an MP he makes the law and can “reverse it”.

In the acrimonious night-time confrontation over a detained truck ferrying drilling equipment, the MP and his colleague Sonia Birdi (nominated), dropped the name of the President, the comptroller of State House, and even the Chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee on National Security, Asman Kamama.

Everyone who follows politics in the country remembers Keter telling President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto that the people of Rift Valley had no business working with Government officers who served in the Kibaki administration, because they “fixed Ruto” in the on-going trial for crimes against humanity at The Hague-based International Criminal Court.

Aggravated threats

“These people were in the Kibaki government. These are the people who gave Ruto’s name to be taken to The Hague and made sure he was put on death row. If you plotted to have one of us hanged abroad, when did you guys get saved? I ask you to leave this Government, or we’ll leave!” said Keter as the matter raged.

The spark had been ignited by his older and more politically experienced namesake Charles Keter, the Kericho senator.

The younger Keter was fighting too many wars on too many fronts: He had a problem with the vacant slots at the helm of many plum parastatals; he had a problem with the procurement malfeasance on the railway tender; he had issues with the removal of his tribes-mate from the National Youth Service; and he did not take it kindly that Jubilee leaders such as Majority Leader Aden Duale were telling him off about his performance on the floor of the House.

He came out guns blazing. “Nilisema mambo ya reli, na hiyo lazima tukae chini kama wabunge tuchunguze vizuri, sababu hatutaki wezi waingie katika serikali yako,” (I spoke about the railway. On that, we must sit as MPs and investigate properly, because we don’t want thieves in your Government),” he told Uhuru and Ruto at a public rally in Eldoret.

The President was opposed to the ‘meddling’ by the MPs in the project, and Keter was not toeing the line like the rest of the Jubilee MPs.

MPs, via the Public Investments Committee and the Transport and Public Works Committee, investigated the project and gave it a 'clean bill of health’.

Keter was alone in the fight. Some even dared him to quit the ruling Jubilee coalition and seek votes afresh.

“Hatutoki! Tutakaa ndani, kama kuna makosa tutakarangana ndani mpaka tupate suluhisho (We are not leaving! We’ll stay in here, and if there are problems, we’ll fight from within until we find a solution)” he retorted, his hand punching the air, in yet another rally.

Lost battles

He nevertheless lost the battle, and accused “the cartels and fat cats in the Uhuru-Ruto administration” of looting the public coffers.

“I miss the two former Presidents (Moi and Kibaki) because they could make decisions. But my two younger brothers Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, they don’t belong to this generation. Given an opportunity now, most Kenyans will not support them,” he said.

Then he got more fodder when Kiplimo Rugut was kicked out of the National Youth Service and replaced with Nelson Githinji.

“What Kenyans might not know is that the Chinese gave money to the NYS and the scavengers are now positioning themselves for a cut, and a person of no knowledge of disciplined forces’ operations had to be brought on board so that opportunity is found to divert the money,” he claimed. That fight too, fizzled out.

So when the Nandi Hills MP was caught red-handed in the weighbridge altercation, he tried to spin the whole thing just the way politicians are fond of doing.

“You cannot smile with people who are corrupt because this is a cartel... a group of people who want to finish Kenyans. I had to become emotional because I don’t like this matter,” he told the media after recording a statement with the police.

“Kenyans must understand (that) when you are fighting corruption, it is not easy... You have to really face the officers because they will complain, they will try to manipulate or blackmail,” he added. “What I meant is that any law that we make, we can amend it in Parliament," he said.

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