Mithika Linturi's ouster exposes cracks in Kenya Kwanza

When Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi shook hands with President William Ruto after he was nominated as the CS. [PCS, X]

The voting pattern of MPs during the ouster motion of Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has exposed the intrigues behind a flopped bid by Kenya Kwanza Alliance’s top brass to save the CS from impeachment

Out of a total 188 legislators that cast their votes on Thursday, 149 voted in favour of the motion, 36 against, while three MPs abstained from voting.

A scrutiny of the voting list reveals a widening rift in the alliance. Whereas the party’s House leadership was keen on loosening the noose around Linturi’s neck, a majority of legislators were unhappy about his handling of the Agriculture docket and his role in the fertiliser saga.

“This motion is a decoy to make sure that we hide those that are ultimately culpable by derailing the investigation by the Agriculture committee,” said Leader of Majority Kimani Ichung’wah. 

Most of the MPs were, however, concerned that Linturi had dropped the ball on numerous occasions and this had not only led to the manufacture and distribution of fake fertiliser but had exposed the country to a food crisis.

This was reflected in their voting where all MPs from the Rift Valley region voted for Linturi’s impeachment, save for six MPs from Baringo South (Charles Kamuren), Nandi Hills (Benard Kitur), Molo (Kimani Kuria), Njoro (Kathambi Chepkwony), Sigor (Peter Lochakapong) and Tinderet (Julius Melly).

Interestingly, during the debate on the motion, no single MP from the Rift Valley – where farmers were most affected by the distribution of fake fertiliser- contributed, but they made their statement when it was time to vote.

They went against their party line to vote for the impeachment of the CS despite spirited attempts by Ichung’wah to save Linturi.

President William Ruto’s silence on the matter only exacerbated the situation, making it harder for the House leadership to whip Mt Kenya region MPs to save Linturi. Of the 36 MPs that voted to save him, only 14 were from the Mt Kenya region.

They were Eric Muchangi (Runyenjes), Simon Kingara (Ruiru), Wambugu Wainana (Othaya), Rahim Dawood (North Imenti), Kareke Mbiuki (Maara), John Kiragu (Limuru), Wachira Karani (Laikipia West) Njeri Maina (Kirinyaga Woman Rep), Ichung’wah (Kikuyu), Peter Kihungi (Kangema), Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), Julius Taitamu (Igembe North), Moses Kirima (Central Imenti) and Rindiriki Mugambi (Buuri).

Meanwhile, Linturi’s fate now lies with Marsabit Woman Rep Naomi Waqo who is the chairperson of the 11-member select committee that will investigate accusations leveled against him.

The committee consists of six members from parties affiliated to the Kenya Kwanza Alliance, four from the Azimio la Umoja and one member from the Jubilee party.  It includes Naomi Jillo Waqo (Marsabit Woman Rep), Robert Mbui (Kathiani), Rachael Nyamai (Kitui West), Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi) and George Murungara (Tharaka).

Others are T. J. Kajwang (Ruaraka), Moses Injendi (Malava) Jane Maina (Kirinyaga Woman Rep), Kassim Tandaza (Matuga), Catherine Omanyo (Busia Woman Rep) and Yusuf Farah (Wajir West).

“The select committee will have ten days to investigate the proposed dismissal of Mithika Linturi as the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock department and present a report to this House,” said National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula.

“The law provides that in the event the select committee finds any of the allegations against the CS unsubstantiated, no further proceedings shall be taken in respect of that allegation. If the allegations are substantiated, however, the CS will be allowed to present his case,” he added. 

Bumula MP Jack Wamboka introduced a motion to have the CS impeached over accusations of violating the constitution by approving the procurement and distribution of fake fertiliser by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB)

He was also accused of abuse of office and going against the law following revelations that the CS ordered the closure of KEL chemical companies following the company’s Chief Operating Officer Devesh Patel’s refusal to participate in a staged press conference where he (Patel) was to take the fall for the fake fertiliser.

Under the provision of gross misconduct, the CS is accused of getting into a spat with journalists who unearthed the scam and purporting to revoke licenses without conducting proper investigations or providing clear policy decisions from the ministry on the matter.