Jubilee retreat to quell tension set for early September

Jubilee retreat to quell tension set for early September

- in News, Politics

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has planned a two-day retreat to review the performance of its disobedient parliamentary leadership and may purge some ‘rogues.’

The meeting has tentatively been set for the weekend of September 1-2 in Naivasha.

Yesterday Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe said the party was concerned about incessant disobedience and defiance of party positions and presidential directives among a section of ‘rogue’ senior leaders.

The appraisal session, described by Murathe as an induction, will be attended by Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto, the party leader and deputy leader.

It will discuss “emerging issues and evaluate the performance of the legislative arm,” Murathe, the President’s right-hand man, said. It is expected to recommend far-reaching changes.

The Star has established that the meeting — including  Jubilee MPs, Senators and MCAs — will make resolutions to kick-start the formal process of replacing ill-disciplined House leaders.

The purge targets Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen and National Assembly Majority whip Benjamin Washiali.

Murkomen is on the spot for opposing the Mau Forest evictions and the lifestyle audit directive by Uhuru. Washiali is accused whipping MPs from Western to support the controversial sugar report against the position of government-allied MPs, to reject it. The report blamed two Cabinet secretaries.

Vicious infighting in the President’s party has been going on for some time and went a notch higher when Uhuru shook hands with Opposition leader Raila Odinga on March 9.

Then DP Ruto’s allies challenged the President to reaffirm his support for Ruto. The Deputy President then intensified his country-wide campaign-style “development tours”.

But what has brought the party close to implosion was the Mau issue. Murkomen led a team of legislators in fighting President Kenyatta’s order to evict illegal occupiers. They have caused massive degradation of the water tower.

The rebellious move was opposed by Uhuru supporters who accused Murkomen of undermining the President and the government’s agenda.

Yesterday insiders told the Star that Murkomen and Washiali have been singled out for possible replacement over their “unbecoming conduct”. Their removal could set off a major set-to, given that the House leadership was shared between Uhuru and Ruto.

Once the meeting resolves that they be kicked out, their Houses will be informed to begin formalising their removal through Party Group meetings, as required by the parliamentary Standing Orders. A simple majority is required in both houses to replace them.

Yesterday, Murathe said the party was looking at the President’s diary to confirm his availability before the secretariat issues an official communication on date of the retreat.

“The President is the party leader. We have to synchronise our activities with his diary and programmes. We can’t wake up one day and set the date. This is a work in progress,” Murathe told the Star.

In reference to the defiant Jubilee party House leaders, Murathe said the die is cast for them for sabotaging the executive’s agenda.

“I have no business even bothering with them. We know what we are doing and soon watajua hawajui (they will know that they know not)’, he said.

The Jubilee official said it was unfortunate that some party leaders in the House have rallied the bicameral Parliament to oppose fundamental party resolutions and to ignore the President’s orders.

“There are instances where the President and the government have given some directives that have been disregarded by the parliamentary leadership. We have to make it very clear that they cannot declare their own positions at barazas,” Murathe said.

Citing objections to the President’s directive on lifestyle audit as well as the fight against corruption, Murathe said it will not be business as, usual as lawmakers will be taken through the party Constitution.

“They will be made aware of what is expected of them. We will make it very clear to members of the consequences of flouting party directives. Those who don’t like it will have themselves to blame,” Murathe said.

But Murkomen, a key ally and the fiercest defender of the DP, dismissed as futile attempts to replace him as Senate Majority leader, saying he was serving in the office courtesy of the President, Deputy President and Jubilee senators.

“All other busybodies should find something useful to do,” he told the Star yesterday, signaling his determination to stay put.

In July, a last-minute call from Uhuru saved Murkomen from imminent removal from the lucrative Senate post over his comments opposing the Mau Forest evictions, which the government supports.

The Elgeyo Marakwet senator had dared Uhuru to contradict him on the evictions, which he had said were not only being done inhumanely but also  unfairly targeting victims outside the forest boundaries.

Murkomen appeared to put his Senate leadership position on the line, as if aware of what his statements might portend and following a statement by Nairobi senator Johnson Sakaja that he had disrespected President Kenyatta on the evictions.

As the Jubilee infighting continued, Kericho senator Aaron Cheruiyot told off Murathe, saying, “The House leadership is a preserve of MPs to determine.”

“Murathe and his fellow busybodies have no locus standi on such a serious matter,” he told the Star in a phone interview.

Insisting that the removal plan was being mooted by people opposed to internal elections, Cheruiyot said interim officials’ time is up as they were  used “just to fill a registration requirement”.

“Murathe is an inconsequential irritant, only big on sponsored newspapers headlines. Otherwise, Jubilee party members cannot even pick him out in a crowd of hawkers. The time has come for Jubilee to replace those noisy clerks with properly elected party officials,” Cheruiyot said.

Yesterday Washiali said he was a party leader before he joined Jubilee and cannot be intimidated by Murathe.

“I am a former party leader, you can’t joke with me. Those plotting to chop me are isolating Western,” he told the Star.

According to the Standing Orders, removing a party leader from the House requires at least half of the signatures of the Jubilee composition in either House.

This means that more than 20 senators must sign up for Murkomen’s removal and more than 100 MPs for Washiali’s for the processes to be legally binding

Once the party resolves that the two be kicked out, Murkomen and Washiali, who is the Mumia East MP, would lose lucrative benefits that come with the powerful offices.

They include a superior pay package, vehicles, enhanced security and at least nine employees paid for by Parliament.

The two enjoy multiple perks and a budget for their offices, all of which are estimated at more than Sh1million monthly.

Besides that, they are entitled to a Sh765,188 monthly salary — Sh143,938 above that of fellow MPs, who earn Sh621,250.

With reduction in pay, their group life insurance and personal group accident cover will also be slashed, as will be gratuity and pension. -The Star

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