Uhuru, Ruto in battle for MCAs over referendum

Raphael Tuju

Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju addresses the media in Nairobi on January 13, 2021.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Jubilee has rolled out a carrot-and-stick strategy to woo the ward representatives.
  • The Deputy President's camp is advising the wards to take the contrary road.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are embroiled in a silent battle for the control of Jubilee Party-allied county assemblies as lobbying for the adoption of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) draft constitutional amendment Bill intensifies.

Whereas Jubilee has threatened to punish MCAs who vote against the BBI as it rolls out a carrot-and-stick strategy to woo the ward representatives, the DP’s camp is advising the wards to take the contrary road.

Jubilee Deputy Secretary-General Caleb Kositany on Thursday launched a full attack on his boss, Mr Raphael Tuju, asking him to desist from forcing Jubilee Party MCAs to adopt the BBI Bill.

This is the latest episode in the now-public cold war between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, in which Mr Kositany and Mr Tuju are all too happy to play the pawns in the battle for the heart and soul of the country’s largest political party.

The Soy MP accused Mr Tuju of lying to the ward representatives that the ruling party had an official position on the BBI, arguing that such a decision has never been reached.

Mr Kositany, in a letter dated February 11 and addressed to Jubilee Party MCAs, said there is no party position on the ongoing debate surrounding constitutional amendments.

No party position

“I wish to reiterate, as I have on previous occasions, that there has never been any meeting of the National Executive Council as required by Article 7 of the party constitution to deliberate and agree on anything, let alone the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2020,” reads the letter in parts.

He says that the party has never constituted the County Assembly Caucuses, which is an organ mandated to articulate the ruling Jubilee Party’s policies at the devolved unit level.

Mr Kositany, who is also the DP’s de-facto spokesperson, advises the ward representatives to ignore Mr Tuju’s communication that all Jubilee MCAs across the party should adopt the Bill. He further asks them to be independent in making decisions to either accept or reject the Bill.

“This is therefore to advise that in absence of official party position, any position as communicated by Tuju or anyone else is a person’s opinion. I urge you to deliberate and utilise your conscience and independence in the Bill when it comes to your assembly,” he says.

Being used by State

Ward representatives are a crucial cog in the BBI push as they must pass its recommendations in plenary before a referendum is called.

A Jubilee Party meeting raised jitters among ward representatives in Baringo County after the nominated members were allegedly sanctioned to vote in the document or risk losing their seats.

Keiyo South MP Daniel Rono and his Kapseret counterpart Oscar Sudi yesterday asked the MCAs to be cautious against being used by the State, arguing that they will face the wrath of people during next year’s election.

“MCAs should know that in case they go against the will of those who elected them, their time is coming,” said Mr Rono.

Bill shot down

MCAs from DP Ruto’s Rift Valley political bastion are at a crossroads on whether to oppose or support the BBI Bill, amid enticement from the State to back the document.

In Uasin Gishu, the County Assembly is set to commence public participation before it debates the Bill, said Mr Patrick Kiptoo Bundotich, chairman of the Delegated Legislation Committee.

In Nandi, the public participation process will start next week, according to Speaker Joshua Kiptoo.

Elgeyo-Marakwet majority leader Nathan Kilimo said they will not allow outside forces to influence the adoption of the BBI Bill, arguing that they will follow the procedure anchored in law and what residents want.

In Turkana, Assembly majority leader Bethwel Kobong’in said even though ODM leader Raila Odinga met a section of MCAs on Friday, there are still dissenting voices concerning the benefits of the BBI.