Kang’ata letter elicits both praise and fury as Jubilee slips into turmoil

Senate Chief Whip Irungu Kang'ata during an Interview at his Office in Nairobi

Jubilee Party is on the verge of an implosion triggered by the formation of a new party and facilitated by the admission of Senate Majority Chief Whip that Building Bridges Initiative is a hard-sell in Central.

Just four days into the New Year, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party has to contend with his deputy and his errant allies who are threatening to join a new outfit, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), but also with his backyard’s claimed reservations with Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

Yesterday, there were strong and mixed reactions to Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata’s letter to Kenyatta, with Central Kenya leaders distancing themselves from his sentiments as Tangatanga enthusiasts embraced him.

Ten governors from Central Kenya, led by Francis Kimemia, the chair of the Central Region Economic Bloc (CEREB), reprimanded the senator for a breach of the protocol while directing sensitive issues to the Head of State.

They called on top Jubilee leadership to immediately call together all political actors including national, county and grassroots leadership to operate on a clear synergy where everybody pulls together in the national interest.

“It raises questions why a senior member of the government leadership in Parliament would choose this cheap populist method to address this issue to the president whose office is just a few steps away from Parliament,” Kimemia said in a statement to newsrooms.

Personal prejudice

He stressed that Kang’ata’s views should be deemed as his only and based on his personal prejudice. Central Kenya, he said, has a unique political behaviour driven by unique interests and not hysteria as the Majority Chief Whip alluded in his statement.

On Sunday, Kang’ata dropped the bombshell that BBI is unpopular and will flop in Central Kenya a day after party vice chair David Murathe announced a move to expel errant members from the party following stinging criticism of Kenyatta by Kandara MP Alice Wahome.

As if this is not enough, some disgruntled MPs are said to be plotting to send the National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya packing just months after he replaced Garissa Township MP Adan Duale.

The party has also to deal with the replacement of former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko who was impeached and removed from office.

Yesterday, other leaders were divided on the manner in which the Murang’a Senator delivered the message. 

Raphael Tuju, the party’s secretary-general said he needs more information on Senator Kang’ata’s assertions before he can engage appropriately on the matter.

“It’s appropriate that I know the methodology, sample size, research instruments and if it was focused on discussions or a questionnaire. This should include the data gathered and analysed,” Tuju said.

I need to know the statistical significance and validity of the study. Once I am furnished with all this information then I can comment objectively. Without this information, there is no way to engage.”

But Ruto ally and Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki despite agreeing with Kang’ata that BBI is not popular in the president’s backyard faulted Kang’ata on how he delivered the message.

“While the objective of the letter remains achievable, the leak is amateurish and may result in unforeseen consequences.  A bit of tact and sophistication was required,” the former deputy speaker said.

But Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot and Kipkelion West MP Hillary Kosgei, all Ruto allies, came to Kang’ata’s defence, saying the message is home.

“Don’t kill the messenger, get the message,” Kosgei said.

Bahati MP Onesmus Ngunjiri, another critic of the president and the BBI, also said Kag’ata reiterated what he has been saying.

Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma said they will not relent in the push for constitutional change.

“Let no one blackmail us. We’ve seen it all. We’re suicidal. We’ll be Solomon if you play wise with us; we can be Samson if you play games with us! Uganda Proverb. This is not your handwriting Kang'ata,” he posted on social media.

Junet Mohammed, the BBI secretariat co-chair, criticised Kang’ata over the letter, saying he had suddenly become a pollster to deduce whether BBI is unpopular in the region.

Speaking in the presence of Kang’ata at a burial in Kigumo, Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege dismissed Kang’ata’s letter as a biased personal opinion.

But Meru Senator Mithika Linturi praised Kang’ata for being bold in his leadership “for the first time”. 

“All that he has said in that letter is 100 per cent of the reality on the ground in Mt Kenya,” he said.

Apart from the BBI headache in Central Kenya, the president must now reach out to disgruntled MPs, especially the Tangatanga wing, which is leading an onslaught on Kimunya.

Over 189 MPs are plotting to kick Kimunya out after they left the 12th Parliamentary WhatsApp group where he is the admin and created a new one.

Nominated MP David Sankok signalled the plot in a social media post: “An impeachment motion against a dictator in National Assembly leadership is loading.”

A heated conversation on the group paints a picture of what awaits the president and his allies next month when Parliament resumes.

Jehema Jaldesa, the Isiolo Woman Representative, claimed Kimunya was dividing the National Assembly, had lost the confidence of many MPs and was involved in a skewed distribution of Christmas tokens.