Ruto's allies moot plan to tilt power table in their favour
- Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei intimated at plans to initiate disciplinary action against Mr Tuju and his team.
- Analysts say Uhuru concentrated on his dalliance with Mr Odinga and BBI at the expense of restoring order in his party.
Deputy President William Ruto’s allies are now pushing for party elections post-Covid-19 in a two-pronged strategy aimed at gaining control of the party and rescinding changes made to its top officials.
Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu last week threw the ball back in the ruling party’s court, asking it to use its internal mechanisms to resolve a stalemate over the newly-appointed officials to the National Management Committee (NMC).
Ruto allies now want to use the chance to demand the thing they’ve been wanting all along — elections of party officials.
It is a strategy that seems to target Secretary-General Raphael Tuju and outspoken Vice-Chairman David Murathe.
“The current National Executive Committee (NEC) can be activated to do its duties and plan for elections to happen as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic is addressed. For us, it is just the party leader to convene the NEC and we are good to go, so that we are once and for all compliant with the constitution,” Deputy Secretary-General Caleb Kositany told the Nation.
Led by Dr Ruto, who termed the changes fraudulent and illegal, at least 350 people — among them 146 MPs and senators — wrote protest letters to Ms Nderitu asking her not to accept the change of names.
Mr Kositany, the Soy MP allied to the DP, said that the petitioners do not foresee a situation where they might need to go to the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal, saying: “I see no reason the party structures won’t work. We see no need to change the NMC now, go for elections, then have to sit to change it again. We would rather just go for elections now.”
The party elections, which were to be held in March, were postponed following the Covid-19 outbreak.
For the Ruto camp, the holding of these elections is not only an important pointer to their level of grassroots influence but also an overdue process in 'taming' officials.
"The president should crack the whip on those he has trusted to run the party but are now working hard with the opposition and political con men to sink the party," said Belgut MP Nelson Koech.
He added: “We must fully take the party back to its members. We must chase all the saboteurs and fraudsters. Tuju and his cohorts should know we are going for them. We will give them an ultimatum to leave; if they won't we will physically evict them.”
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei intimated at plans to initiate disciplinary action against Mr Tuju and his team.
"Mr Tuju should leave as soon as possible because arrogance and impunity cannot thrive in Jubilee," added Kipkelion West MP Hillary Kosgei.
The plan from January, it appears, was to hold the elections by March, but a letter by Ms Nderitu on the guidelines the party needed to adhere to seemed to have changed the course, with Mr Tuju asking for a postponement.
In the letter, Ms Nderitu asked the party to verify its membership list, including publishing it for verification by members, put in place an election board as well as a dispute resolution mechanism, and map out polling centres.
Upon receiving the letter, Mr Tuju on January 28 met his staff and regional directors to assess their preparedness.
A few days later, on February 3, Mr Tuju wrote another letter to Ms Nderitu, this time asking for a postponement and citing the need to mobilise resources.
Ms Ndeitu wrote back agreeing to the request on the same day former President Daniel Moi’s death was announced, Mr Tuju told members in a five-page brief.
Another meeting was called on February 10, this time to “reschedule planning for the elections”.
Two days later, on February 12, Mr Tuju was involved in an accident near Kijabe on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway on his way to Moi's funeral in Kabarak.
In his brief, Mr Tuju defended the changes to the NMC. “The NMC changes were necessary to prepare for the party elections and ensure the party was compliant with the provisions of Section 26(1) (a) of the Political Parties Act including the requirements for regional balancing and gender affirmative action,” Mr Tuju said in the brief seen by the Nation.
In the changes, Mr Tuju brought on board Ms Lucy Nyawira Macharia, Prof Marete Marangu, Mr Walter Nyambati, Ms Jane Nampaso and Mr James Waweru. Ms Veronica Maina, Ms Fatuma Shukri and Ms Pamela Mutua were kicked out.
“Nothing in this constitution, its rules, regulations or procedures shall preclude the NEC acting on its own or through the National Coordinating Committee from taking or making decisions that it deems proper and fit in the interest of the party,” Mr Tuju told members, defending the move.
Cherang'any MP Joshua Kutuny, one of the MPs allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta, vowed to challenge Ms Nderitu’s decision arguing that the changes were in line with the party's constitution.
"Due process was followed by the party and we are going to get back to the registrar by this week," said Mr Kutuny, adding that anyone with complaints should protest through the party structures and not on social media.
Political analysts are of the view that President Kenyatta concentrated on his dalliance with opposition chief Raila Odinga and Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) at the expense of restoring order in his party.
"The President has been concentrating on the BBI and forgotten his party. Ever since the handshake and now the BBI, there has been a state of uneasiness in Jubilee Party while Raila’s party has remained unshaken, and that is why the Head of State should attend BBI rallies to build his party,” said Prof Edward Kisiang’ani.
“The handshake and the BBI have led to creation of Kieleweke and Tangatanga factions in the party, but their rivals ODM speak with one voice,” he added.
This comes as National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale called for sobriety in tackling the issues.
The changes and the bickering, Mr Duale said, “almost made the party look like a private entity, where persons can follow their own whims depending on the mood of the day to change officials as and when their desire. Tuju is out of order and must be told so”.
“Raphael Tuju and his cabal must be told to their face. Jubilee is not their personal property and all decisions going forward must be made by the party organs in accordance with its constitution and relevant laws,” Mr Duale said.
Already, Ruto-allied MPs have said they will take the fight for the party to Jubilee House in Pangani.
“Pursuant to the directive from the Registrar of Political Parties, Jubilee MPs have resolved to start working from Jubilee House from April 20, 2020 to facilitate the resolution of the misunderstandings and interpretation of the party constitution. Jubilee will solve the misunderstandings and forge together as a united, cohesive and democratic nationalist ruling party,” Gatundu South Moses Kuria said.