Inside Jubilee coup... Uhuru Kenyatta versus Sabina Chege: Loyalty or survival?

Uhuru Kenyatta

Narc-K leader Martha Karua, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, Wiper Party boss Kalonzo Musyoka, and former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio leader Raila Odinga during the inaugural Azimio Council meeting in Nairobi on April 21, 2022.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

The battle for the soul of the Jubilee Party escalated yesterday after a rival faction kicked out retired President Uhuru Kenyatta as party leader and threatened to expel him altogether on allegations of gross misconduct.

The camp that has declared its support for President William Ruto named nominated MP Sabina Chege as acting party leader pending a national delegates convention on a date that is yet to be announced.

Last evening, the camp that is led by East Africa Legislative Assembly MP Kanini Kega was working on summons with plans to drag Mr Kenyatta before the Jubilee disciplinary committee for contravening the party’s constitution amid a fallout over resignation letters purportedly signed by members of the Pro-Ruto group and that have been forwarded to the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties.

In a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held last Friday, Mr Kenyatta reportedly fired Jubilee Chairman Nelson Dzuya and Executive Director Wambui Gichuru using undated letters of resignation they had allegedly signed when they were appointed.

Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu yesterday confirmed rejecting the resignation letters over missing documents, including copies of the IDs of the two officials. The letter, she said, did not bear the names of the officials but were only signed “National Chairman” and “Executive Director”.

Kenyatta's expulsion

Mr Kega said Mr Kenyatta’s expulsion was one of the options the disciplinary team would consider.

“The summons will be going out today and we expect him to appear before the disciplinary committee,” he said.

Yesterday’s NEC comes barely two days after Mr Kenyatta also convened another NEC and scheduled a special National Delegates Convention for May 22 as he sought to regain control of the former ruling party that he formed by collapsing 14 others. The NEC picked Mr Murathe to act as chairperson until when the party holds its NDC.

The NEC ratified the changes that essentially seek to pull away the former ruling party from Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party, where Mr Kenyatta is still the chairperson.

“The former party leader misconducted himself by purporting to make official communication on behalf of the party in breach of the party constitution…. by purporting to conduct an NEC meeting and proceeding to invite suspended officials ... in contempt of the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal (PPDT) judgment delivered on April 19,” the NEC declared.

The Kega faction cited Section 6(1) of the Presidential Benefits Act, 2003, which bars a retired President from holding any office in a political party for more than six months after leaving office. Mr Kenyatta handed over power to President William Ruto on September 13, 2022.

In Section 6(2), the Act states that “a retired President shall be expected to play a consultative and advisory role to the government and the people of Kenya”.

“The office of the party leader ... is hereby declared vacant. [Pending] a Special National Delegates Convention, Ms Sabina Chege will be the acting party leader,” said Mr Kega.

Last evening, Mr Kenyatta’s camp dismissed his purported ouster as party leader by declaring yesterday’s rival NEC meeting as null and void. In a statement, Mr Murathe said the minutes and resolutions by the Kega-led team are not binding since the NEC meeting was neither done at the party headquarters nor communicated by the secretary-general. Both Mr Kega and Mr Jeremiah Kioni are claiming to be secretary-general.

Mr Murathe said Mr Kenyatta – as the party leader – has the overall authority over all party organs, adding that the “party constitution does not envisage a situation where a rebel group can evict a party leader from his position.”

He linked State House to the purported ouster while accusing President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance of blatant disregard to multi-party democracy.

“William Ruto’s coup in Jubilee proves that he is an individual obsessed with absolute power and settling political scores. Instead of attempting to capture, he should capture the cost of living, the cost of electricity and basic commodities, the weakening shilling among other core issues he promised to address if elected,” he said.

He accused Dr Ruto of lacking commitment to the bi-partisan talks between Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party and Kenya Kwanza since part of the demands by the Opposition is for the ruling alliance to cease assault on rival parties..