Irungu Kangata

Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata.

| File | Nation Media Group

Besieged Kang’ata holds his ground, skips party presser

What you need to know:

  • Mr Kang’ata has warned that the voters in the Mt Kenya region are set to reject the proposals of the BBI at a referendum.
  • Wednesday's meeting came just days after the Head of State dismissed the Kang’ata letter.

An attempt by President Kenyatta’s allies to coax Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata to drop his bare-knuckle criticism and warning of an imminent flop of the BBI initiative in Mt Kenya came a cropper Wednesday after he failed to show up at an organised presser at the party headquarters.  

On Tuesday, Mr Kenyatta, the Jubilee party leader, reportedly directed party and parliamentary officials to convene an urgent meeting with Mr Kang’ata to iron out the issues, which are said to have been aimed at antagonising him and his ‘Handshake’ partner, ODM’s Raila Odinga.

The meeting came just days after the head of State dismissed the Kang’ata letter and insisted that he was “in charge and in control of everything we are doing”.

To demonstrate how crucial the meeting was, the Nation was reliably informed that State House reportedly mandated Interior Permanent Secretary Karanja Kibicho to meet the Jubilee leadership and ensure the underlying issues are addressed without further delay.

Remained adamant

While Mr Kang’ata obliged and attended the meeting held at a high-end hotel in Westlands, Nairobi, sources within the meeting that lasted about four hours disclosed that he remained adamant, sticking to the position that he committed no crime.

It is understood that the meeting had resolved to have Mr Kang’ata resign from his House leadership post — or at the very least offer a public apology over his “misguided letter”— at Wednesday’s presser, only for the Murang’a senator to pull a no-show.

His absence left party officials, flanked by the parliamentary leadership, only addressing the media on the fate of the Machakos Senate as well as Kabuchai and Matungu MP by-elections.

“His goose could now be cooked because the boss is not happy at all with his actions. That will be the end of him,” a source privy to the meeting disclosed.

Apart from Mr Kang’ata and Dr Kibicho, other Jubilee leaders who attended the meeting were Raphael Tuju (secretary-general), National Assembly and Senate majority leaders Amos Kimunya and Samuel Poghisio, respectively, and Maoka Maore (National Assembly deputy majority whip).

Others were Fatuma Dullo (Senate deputy majority leader), Jimmy Angwenyi (National Assembly deputy majority leader) and secretary of the Jubilee Coalition National Assembly Parliamentary Group Adan Keynan.

Ms Dullo Wednesday confirmed that indeed, the party officials attended a meeting with Mr Kang’ata on Tuesday but refused to divulge their agenda.

“It’s true some of us (officials) attended a meeting with Mr Kang’ata and what I can say is that he is still part of us,” Ms Dullo told Journalists during the presser at Jubilee headquarters.

When reached later on whether Interior PS attended the party meeting and his contributions in the gathering, Ms Dullo said all that was not meant for the media.

Secret meeting

Mr Kang’ata Wednesday confirmed to the Nation that he attended the meeting, but did not divulge more information about it, only insisting that it was a secret.

“I am surprised my colleagues have publicly shared details of the meeting with you. My letter did not insult anyone neither did it contain falsehoods. I just reported the truth. What wrong did I commit?" he posed.

Another source at the Tuesday meeting disclosed how “emboldened” Mr Kang’ata seemed to be, telling the gathering that he does not regret penning the letter.

“Despite the president’s hard stance on the matter and the presence of the Interior PS, he appeared unmoved, even claiming at some point that he did not insult the head of State to warrant the party backlash.”

During the burial of ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi’s mother, Mama Hannah Atsianzale in Mululu, Vihiga County on Saturday, a visibly angry President Kenyatta dismissed Mr Kang’ata’s letter, insisting that he was in full control of the government.

“When you see a lion that has been rained on, do not mistake it for a cat. Everything has its timing. I am in charge of this government and I am in control of what goes on there,” the President said.

Mr Kang’ata had also been invited for a meeting with the Council of Eminent Persons of Murang’a on Thursday last week over his sentiments on the BBI drive in Mount Kenya.

The council said it wanted to understand the context in which the senator authored the letter that has elicited mixed reactions in the country.

“We had to find out from Senator Kang’ata the authenticity of that letter…whether it was even his letter and all that…we talked for about two hours or so,” said Council Chairman Joe Kibe.

Content weighty

Last week, Mr Odinga’s elder brother Oburu Oginga said the content of the senator’s letter was weighty and needed consultations and soul searching before they could issue a comprehensive statement.

“We are still consulting to have the best way to react to it. We can’t just react like that without tangible information as we may be attacking a messenger while leaving out the main culprit in the plot,” Dr Oginga told the Nation.

ODM National Treasurer Timothy Bosire had also expressed his fears over the Kang’ata letter, arguing there “is more than meets the eye”.

In his letter dated December 30, 2020 and addressed to President Kenyatta and Mr Tuju, the communication reveals the BBI challenges in Mt Kenya region.

“BBI is unpopular in Mt Kenya. For every 10 persons I surveyed, six oppose it, two support it and the other two are indifferent…if we do not take urgent measures, I will pin myself permanently in the pillar of the shame of the spectacular defeat,” reads the letter by Mr Kang’ata.

Nomination certificates

During the Wednesday presser, Jubilee handed nomination certificates to Virginia Wamaitha Gicanga, Francis Njoroge Njogu and Lucy Ng’endo Njoroge to fly its flag in the Hell’s Gate Ward, London Ward and Huruma Ward by-elections.

Mr Tuju announced that the party had decided not to field candidates for the Machakos senate seat as well as Kabuchai and Matungu parliamentary by-elections, citing its cooperation with the Odinga-led National Super Alliance (Nasa).

“It is the decision of the Jubilee Party that given the bigger picture of bringing this country together and the BBI avenue, ceding ground to the Nasa parties in this instance is essential to ensuring that we do not open unnecessary arenas for conflict with our very able partners in the BBI,” Mr Tuju said.

He pointed out that for the Nairobi governor’s seat, they are on stand-by mode as the matter plays out in the High Court and at the Nairobi County Assembly.

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