Wa Muchomba faces 'traitor' tag in renewed push for law changes

Githunguri MP Gathoni wa Muchomba during UDA National Delegates Conference (NDC) at Kasarani Sports Complex, Nairobi, March 15, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Githunguri MP Gathoni wa Muchomba’s letter to the National Assembly Speaker on the need for amendments to the Constitution has caused a storm in Kenya Kwanza.

While her clamour has earned praise, many UDA insiders have labelled her a traitor.

The letter dated April 4 and addressed to Speaker Moses Wetang’ula mirrors proposals in former President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner Raila Odinga’s flopped Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill.

The letter notifies the Speaker of the MP’s intention to propose a Bill seeking to amend the relevant laws to provide a baseline population quotient which will then be used as the basis for distribution of funds through the National Government Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF).

“This will ensure constituencies have a fairly equal or similar population, and where if the population of a constituency exceeds the baseline figure more wards ought to be added to it. This will ensure equal representation and fair distribution of resources,” reads the letter.

The MP also wants the office of the Speaker to authorize the Legal Services Directorate to assist in the formulation of the Bill.

Assembly’s legal officer Peninnah Simiren acknowledged receipt of the MP’s letter saying “they are working on instructions.”

“We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated April 2023. We are working on the instructions and we will get back to you in due course,” the letter read. When the letter was first posted on a Mt Kenya region WhatsApp group, MPs confided to The Sunday Standard that it elicited mixed reactions, with the Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa reportedly cautioning that the letter may go against President William Ruto’s agenda.

“He asked us to go slow on matters that could cause confusion in the Ruto-led administration but a few of the MPs warned him against blindly defending the President as was the case in Uhuru regime,” an MP who did not want to be named told The Sunday Standard.

Wa Muchomba, who spoke to The Sunday Standard on tephone, remains unbowed and maintained that despite the opposition, she will team up with like-minded leaders to push for ‘what is rightfully ours ‘.

“I have been accused of working in cahoots with Uhuru but I ask them a simple question, should the bill sail through, will it help Uhuru or Mt Kenya region electorate?” wondered wa Muchomba.

While denying that she is secretly advancing Uhuru’s BBI push, the MP called out a section of Mt Kenya leaders for what she describes as sycophancy and being ‘Mr Yes man’ in the Ruto administration. “I know there are plans to sabotage and frustrate my intention but I will stay put. My Bill, if it sails through, will provide a baseline in next year’s boundary review exercise by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Review (IEBC) and it will protect and address representation issues,” she said.

Among leaders supporting wa Muchomba are Kieni MP Njoroge Wainaina, Mathioya MP  Edwin Mugo, Mwangi Kiunjuri (Laikipia East) Betty Maina (Muranga Woman Rep) Simon King’ara (Ruiru) and Moses Kirima of Central Imenti.

Wainaina said: “Despite the opposition some of us have maintained that we must soldier on and bring the amendments. Kieni needs to be split into two or get an increment in revenue allocation. My boss is he who elected me and can vote me out if I don’t defend him.”

According to Mathioya MP, Edwin Mugo, every time the issue of fair distribution of resources and representation is introduced, it is turned into a Mt Kenya region bashing campaign. He said time was ripe to act.

“Enemies use cooked up economic figures, projected with unflinching propaganda tactics. They are hoodwinking Kenyans to justify the unjustifiable with an aim of denying us our rights,” the MP said.

According to Mugo there has been a false narrative that if the region is in government, all its problems can be sorted. He says this is the time to demystify that narrative.

“While Eldas can afford to give a bursary of up to Sh100,000 per learner, Mathioya cannot. This form of inequality is unacceptable since it is a convoluted form of retributive justice predicated upon the mantra of slowing down the horse for the donkey to catch up.”

Murang’a Women Rep Betty Maina said they will not back down to listen to those keen on silencing their push. ‘‘If talking more is defending our community I’m ready to be counted as those talking too much,” she said. “Let us not assume that our problem in the region starts and ends with Raila. We are used to giving Caesar what belongs to Caesar but what we get in return is not commensurate with our votes,” she added.

However, others led by Senate Deputy Speaker and Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi, Senator Joe Nyutu (Muranga) and Mukurweini MP John Kaguchia, say the move is ill-informed and depicts Wa Muchomba as a leader trying to create a war from within in bid to advance ‘our political foes’ interests’.

According to Murungi, the discussion to amend the Constitution was important but it was not ripe for the region and the country. “The timing of the debate to amend the constitution and include one man one vote one shilling is raising eyebrows. Other than causing confusion in Parliament, the move will also antagonize the bipartisan talks,” Murungi said.

Kaguchia claimed he had been approached by some of the Opposition’s team to introduce the debate but refused and feared that the Githunguri MP could be a mole who is assisting the Azimio coalition to legitimise their demands.