What you need to know:
- Political observers believe the picking of Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya, an MP from Central Kenya, is a masterstroke in consolidating the Central bloc.
- Senator Kang’ata Tuesday told the Nation that the President did not break any law in kicking out lawmakers from House committees.
Realising support in his backyard is slackening and his legacy limp, President Kenyatta has moved to consolidate his Mt Kenya bloc.
Whereas the recent purge in his Jubilee Party has been ruthless, it has also been calculated.
Political observers believe the picking of Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya, an MP from Central Kenya, is a masterstroke in consolidating the Central bloc.
With Deputy President (DP) William Ruto having bagged the region’s support and the President seen as a lame-duck, the recent assertion of authority that has reverberated across the country, has sent the message closer home — to Mt Kenya region politicians.
While it’s a standard practice for lawmakers to collectively protect party positions in Parliament, the changes he fronted in the National Assembly and the Senate mean he’s still firmly in charge of his acolytes.
Coming weeks after Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata was picked as the new majority chief whip, Mr Kenyatta’s move is seen as a counter to the growing reach of his deputy and his allies, who have been actively campaigning for 2022 in Mt Kenya and in the process, roped in a majority of Mt Kenya MPs.
It’s instructive that the motion to drop Aden Duale from the Majority Leader position was moved by Laikipia Woman Rep Catherine Waruguru and seconded by her Murang’a counterpart Sabina Chege.
The Head of State had been slowly losing the political support of Mt Kenya leaders and their constituents to Mr Ruto, who had focused on building loyalty and followers in the region.
The renewed interest by Mr Kenyatta came after the Sagana meeting last November, where he met the Mt Kenya political and business leadership to address their discontent, but which seemingly led to further cracks after the DP’s allies dismissed the meeting.
Apart from Tangatanga MPs from Mt Kenya counties abandoning the President, he has also had to contend with the fact that the ground in central Kenya had turned hostile as frustrations increased over the economic situation.
The leaders had argued that over the years, politicians in the region have been referred to as one of the leading economic blocs and contributors to the national Gross Domestic Product through businesses and natural resources, especially in agriculture, yet the region is marginalised in resource distribution.
These realisations have made the President to crack the whip by stemming rebellion, realigning Parliament’s leadership and in the process locked out detractors and his allies given prominent roles.
Senator Kang’ata Tuesday told the Nation that the President did not break any law in kicking out lawmakers from House committees.
“The President must work with loyal people who will help him push his agenda. He is the one with the mandate and authority and the principle of discretion applies,” Mr Kang’ata said.
Gatanga MP Nduati Ngugi maintained that the President enjoys unrivalled support in Mt Kenya region and is right to politically neutralise rivals and fire those who refuse to toe his line in Mt Kenya.
“Our support for the President has never been questioned at any time. We dare all those in Mt Kenya region, who think the President is a pushover, to think twice and conform when there is time,” he said.
By picking Mr Kimunya who launched his political career decades ago, pundits say President Kenyatta is extending his close ties with the old guard in the region. It is not the first time the President has openly shown preference for the older generation in matters politics.
By being the second most senior politician from the region after Speaker Justin Muturi, Mr Kimunya has the daunting task of ensuring the President’s political support not only at the national level, but also in Mt Kenya region, is more intact than before.
“This is humbling. It shows the confidence the party leadership has on me. I’ll do my best to serve not only the party, but the country at large.
‘‘ I know what it means to be in that position, he has done really well and provided good leadership, he is still a big asset to us and the country,” Mr Kimunya said.
Meru’s Igembe North Maoka Maore was picked Deputy Chief Whip in recent changes made in the National Assembly that saw him replace Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire, a Ruto ally in Mt Kenya.
Mr Maore, who served the people of Ntonyiri for 15 years until 2002 when he lost the seat, is expected to help recapture Meru and Tharaka-Nithi counties where the DP has considerable support.
In the National Assembly changes approved by Speaker Muturi yesterday, Kieni’s Kanini Kega will chair the Budget Committee, replacing Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah, a staunch Ruto supporter from central Kenya.
Mr Kega, who was the only MP to win the Jubilee nomination and recapture his seat in the 2017 election is mandated to help the President gain back Laikipia and Nyeri counties.
FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
But Mr Ichung’wah said he’s comfortable in his posturing as DP’s supporter “as a matter of political faith and principle.” He said he can politically adjust his support or opposition on a number of issues “but on this issue”, he said in reference to the DP.
Jubilee Vice-Chairman David Murathe said, “we’re soon descending into that Mt Kenya region to launch a charm offensive and the President will have his way. You must be a joker in Mt Kenya to believe that Mr Kenyatta is not liked and has no influence.”
Kandara MP Alice Wahome said she is in the DP’s camp to stay, adding, democracy is all about freedom to choose the ropes to hang with or not to, hence a maxim “my DP my choice.”
“Let it be clear that Kenya is not a fiefdom, a dynasty or a monarch. Let them continue de-whipping leaders not because of incompetency but to humiliate DP Ruto… Let them know that in Mt Kenya region, we are the majority in this cause and we have calculated the risks and we will afford to pay,” Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said.