Jubilee party woes top on Uhuru’s agenda as he jets back from France

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the France-Kenya Business Forum hosted by MEDEF, the largest French business consortium in the world on October 2.

Photo credit: PSCU

What you need to know:

  • The party’s vice-chairman David Murathe said Jubilee headquarters in Ngara, Nairobi, is now a restricted area.
  • The National Management Committee  which recommended to the National Executive Committee, to strip the DP of his deputy party leader position will be asking Mr Kenyatta to urgently convene the NEC to restore order.

As President Uhuru Kenyatta jets back today from France, he will be confronted by a Jubilee House that is in disarray following spirited efforts by his deputy William Ruto to assert his authority in the party in what secretary-general Raphael Tuju has termed as an “attempted power-grab when the boss was away”.

The Sunday Nation established that tomorrow, the Head of State is set to get a comprehensive political brief from his lieutenants after chairing the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC).

But even before President Kenyatta settles, his lieutenants have come up with ways to deal with what they term as Dr Ruto’s “sabotage.” Their plan involves kicking him out of the party, locking him out of Jubilee House in Pangani, slashing his budget and finally tabling an impeachment motion against the deputy president that will kick him out of government.

Convene NEC

The National Management Committee (NMC), which recommended to the National Executive Committee (NEC), to strip the DP of his deputy party leader position will be asking Mr Kenyatta to urgently convene the NEC to restore order.

“The NEC can be convened anytime, it remains the prerogative of the President who chairs it to summon us. Usually, the boss can give a 24-hour notice to allow those out of town to travel over,” Mr Tuju said yesterday.

Those with knowledge of a series of consultations that informed the reading of the riot act to the DP on Friday have told the Sunday Nation that the secretariat had to get clearance from Paris before addressing the press on the drastic measures announced, which could be a precursor to impeachment proceedings.

The party’s vice-chairman David Murathe said Jubilee headquarters in Ngara, Nairobi, is now a restricted area and beginning tomorrow, anybody who wants to visit must have a prior appointment from the secretariat and adhere to Covid-19 protocols that include wearing of face masks.

“It is now war. The headquarters will be closed for a while now.”

Speaking in Bahati yesterday, Dr Ruto dared the opponents to proceed with their plans, adding they must be prepared to face the wrath of the people.

“I have heard some people saying that they do not want hustlers at the Jubilee headquarters. It is okay but the conversation on empowerment of poor Kenyans is unstoppable. All the noises you are hearing is because the country is experiencing labour pains, we are in the process of delivering a new conversation in Kenya,” said Dr Ruto.

Allies of the DP dismissed the new measures saying by the virtue of faithfully making monthly contributions to enable the day-to-day running of the party, they had every right to visit the centre as they wished. In fact, a team of lawmakers led by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika are planning to ‘storm Jubilee headquarters tomorrow in what could end up in ugly scenes.

There were reports of massive deployment of the police in the party premises last evening to pre-empt any scuffles even as Mr Murathe warned that whoever tries to breach the new measures will have themselves to blame.

“The party does not belong to any individual. We will be there tomorrow to insist that our constitution must be followed. On the talks of impeachment, we are excited about it. They should bring it on like yesterday,” Belgut MP Nelson Koech said.

Undue advantage

Former Senate majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen, an eminent ally of the DP tersely said, “Lets meet in Bunge (Parliament) and the Jubilee headquarters.”

Equally, Mr Murathe said that when elections are called, the position of deputy party leader, like the rest save for the party leader, will be open for any member who wants to take it up.

“All the seats are held on interim basis and like the ones we have courtesy of the party leader, even the one by Ruto will be up for competition and that’s the reason we do not want him to have undue advantage over the rest by operating from the headquarters,” he said.

He reiterated that Dr Ruto must also brace himself for competition for the party’s ticket in the quest of his State House ambition.

The DP’s fate as the Jubilee deputy party leader now lies with NEC.

But the idea of sacking the DP in parliament even if the President’s side had the numbers may not be in his best interests given that he’s only left with two years to finish his second and final term in office. It would be too disruptive an affair that may also assume a life of its own.

Political analyst Hezron Mogambi observes, “The process to remove him as deputy party leader may work and may have little consequence considering the time left before 2022 and that parties are reorganising for the polls.”

Mr Murathe told the Sunday Nation that they have no immediate plans to institute an impeachment motion against the DP over defiance, but he pointed out that the party’s constitution was clear on the penalties against those who involve themselves in “gross misconduct.”

“There are crimes that constitute disciplinary action and they are fully aware of them. If somebody commits crimes that call for disciplinary action as per our party constitution, then the relevant organs of the party will act,” Mr Murathe said. Senate majority chief whip Irungu Kang’ata said he had not yet received instructions to institute the DP’s impeachment but was quick to add that “any agenda of the President will pass in Senate overwhelmingly."

"As the chief whip of Senate, I act on instructions of either the party or His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta. I will defend his Excellency’s position to the hilt. I have not received such instructions so far. But I can assure everyone his Excellency has the numbers in Senate to carry out any agenda,” said Mr Kang’ata.

He went on: "As government we thank all parties which have been rallying behind his Excellency’s agenda in Parliament. Through that, we have been able to pass key parliamentary agenda including revenue-sharing bill."

But Nyeri Town MP Wambugu Ngunjiri said should the DP continue with his charade against the President and it becomes clear “that he will be an obstacle and a hindrance to where the President wants to get to by 2022, then we will have no option but to impeach him.”

Attend church services

“If Parliament ever wanted to impeach the DP it would be done in a minute. We have the numbers both in NA (National Assembly) and Senate. Whether this is the way to go or not will be determined by how disruptive what the DP is doing continues to be, for the President,” said Mr Ngunjiri. Right now, he added, the DP’s theatrics are just a nuisance and nothing more.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny said the DP has no “locus standi” to continue serving in government. “Already the party has declared that he is persona non grata in Jubilee house, so he is now a stranger to the Jubilee administration and the party,” Mr Kuttuny said.

Nominated MP Maina Kamanda said time was nigh to not only force the DP out of Jubilee but also as the deputy president.

“Once he loses the party position, he should therefore vacate DPs office too. Lawyers should advise on the process, but this should not take long. His tactics have come to an end and he can’t hold Kenya at a ransom,” he said.

The DP is today expected to attend church services in Murang’a County, the first visit to Mt Kenya region since Covid–19 restrictions were placed more than four months ago.

Minority whip in the National Assembly Junet Mohamed, a close ally of ODM leader Raila Odinga, yesterday said that the DP, who blames the former prime minister of destabilising the ruling party, had isolated himself in government.

“Ruto is the DP, how can he in that capacity be the one dishing out wheelbarrows to people in the name of empowerment and accusing the same government he serves for failure to uplift those people from poverty?

“He may have become too used to the President when they were campaigning but he must have forgotten that this ended when Uhuru took oath of office. In other jurisdictions, even if the President were disabled, one would still pledge his or her allegiance to the Head of State,” he said.

Additional reporting by Wanjohi Githae, [email protected], [email protected]