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Kang’ata kicked out in fresh wave of Jubilee purge

POLITICS
By Roselyne Obala and Moses Nyamori | February 10th 2021
Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju addresses journalists at KICC in Nairobi after Jubilee parliamentary group meeting yesterday. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata is the latest casualty in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party purge against MPs perceived to be disloyal, as he was fired from his Majority Whip seat.

And now the guns have been trained on nominated MP David Sankok, another key ally of the Deputy President William Ruto, following Monday’s purge of the nominated senators of similar political leaning. The senators yesterday got a reprieve after the Political Parties’ Tribunal suspended their expulsion.

Uhuru skipped the meeting yesterday, designating JP Secretary General (SG) Raphael Tuju to chair it. Nine senators allied to Ruto staged a walkout in solidarity with Mr Kang’ata, faulting the purge as unprocedural and illegal.

Walkout

They included Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Kang’ata as well as former committee chairs John Kinyua (Devolution), Samson Cherargei (Justice and Legal Affairs (JLAC)), Christopher Lagat (Education) and Mithika Linturi (vice chair JLAC). They were kicked out in a similar manner.

Tuju declined to be drawn into the debate on procedural issues, rolling it over to Kang’ata and asking why he (Kang’ata) had in the past endorsed similar purges, including the removal of his predecessor Senator Susan Kihika, if the process had been illegal.

And just like that, Uhuru’s “blue-eyed boy” lost his charm and value following a letter addressed to the President that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) was unpopular in Mt Kenya region, and that it could flop.

Senator Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) will now replace Kang’ata as per the resolutions announced by Tuju.

“I cannot engage in a back and forth debate with members who advance ideologies of another party, United Democratic Alliance (UDA). It’s a big joke. We deal with numbers and have the requisite threshold to remove Kang’ata,” said Tuju.

Tuju attributed Kang’ata’s biggest leadership failure to sharing of confidential party information with media, which resulted in the loss of trust among colleagues.

“This is what made his position untenable. You don’t kiss and tell. Kang’ata’s removal has nothing to do with the BBI, but his opinion as a JP parliamentary leader and the way he conducted himself,” said Tuju.

Earlier, Senators Linturi, Mr Murkomen and Kang’ata faulted the JP leadership for cracking the whip on leaders speaking about the BBI push and questioned why they were victims when the process was supposed to unite Kenyans.

Backed by Senators Steven Lelengwe (Samburu), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) and Anwar Loitiptip (Lamu), they demanded that due diligence be following in Kang’ata’s case and that they be served with a show-cause letter and the charges.

“We have stormed out of the meeting after we learnt the agenda was to remove Kang’ata as majority whip, which was not earlier communicated. We should follow the law and the Standing Orders. This is not right,” protested Linturi.

Murkomen was categorical that out of 38 JP senators, only 24 turned up and 19 of them, including Ali Abdullahi (Wajir), who did not appear at the presser, opposed to the move.

“The events that have happened at KICC are regrettable. They expected us to skip the meeting, but we were here at 10am, and got them by surprise. The conveners advised the President not to turn up,” alleged Murkomen.

Make ruling

He added: “We are standing in solidarity with Kang’ata. Without fear of contradiction, the Speaker, Ken Lusaka, should not allow such fraud. He should make a ruling on our removal last year, where the list was not shared before dealing with this matter.”

Tuju rubbished the demands for due diligence, challenging Kang’ata to state if he did the same for his colleagues, who he whipped the House to eject.

He declined to confirm the number of attendees, saying the Deputy Majority Whip, Senator Farhiya Ali (nominated), was still working on the same as two members were unwell.

Senate Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio argued that Kang’ata’s situation was not new to Kenyan politics.

“Party loyalty is paramount. When the party makes a decision, I have no choice but to work with whoever is assigned,” said Mr Poghisio. Tuju said the PG deliberated on party issues, including that of Kang’ata. It was attended by the PG Secretary Aden Keynan (Eldas MP).

He disclosed that a number of senators were given opportunity to express their disapproval of the decision, which was done in a very civil way.

“They had a right to be heard, but the majority had their way. Kang’ata has been relieved of his duties but claiming he is targeted because of the BBI letter he wrote to the party leader is not the case,” Tuju sought to clarify, after Kang’ata and the nine senators attribute his persecution to the same.

He gave the chronology of events, saying they had a meeting with Kang’ata and eight parliamentary leaders on the way he aired issues to avoid being vilified and punished.

“There should be decorum and ways of addressing issues when you talk to the leadership involving the President,” said Tuju.

He added: “In another meeting we convened at JP headquarters, Kang’ata didn’t come but decided to discuss confidential issues with the media. We must, as leaders, keep confidential information and not immediately make them public.

The Tangatanga senators, however, exuded confidence, noting that those kicked out of House leadership and committees outnumbered those supporting the establishment.

“We now have a caucus,” said Murkomen, in reference to the six senators expelled by the party, but who have initiated appeal.

Speak the truth

Kang’ata maintained his ground that he would continue to speak the truth “in a gracious way” without insulting anyone.

Making reference to the Bible, but without specifying the verses, he said: “The truth shall set you free”. Kang’ata also narrated the story of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego in the Bible and likened his current tribulations to the same.

“Notwithstanding the tribulations, I remain steadfast and will speak the truth. I didn’t insult anyone in the BBI letter, in which I raised pertinent issues and offered solutions to the leadership. BBI is supposed to unite and build bridges,” said Kang’ata.

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