WEAK BRIDGE

Uhuru, Ruto Jubilee camps can't agree on BBI presentation

The cracks in the ruling party have hampered the harmonisation of a final draft that should be presented to the building brudges initiatve

In Summary

• Jubilee Party secretary general Raphael Tuju says party will not present views to the BBI.

• BBI team set to close public hearings by end of Jul.y 

The Jubilee Party launch in 2017 at Kasarani. /PSCU
The Jubilee Party launch in 2017 at Kasarani. /PSCU

Sharp differences between President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto's camps in Jubilee have derailed presentation of the party's views to the Building Bridges Initiative.

It has emerged that competing political interests within the ruling party pitting the Kieleweke brigade against the Tangatanga squad have scuttled efforts to craft a consensus and harmonised Jubilee document.

on Thursday, Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju lifted the lid on the irreconcilable differences when he said Jubilee members were all free to individually present their views. There would be no common position, he said. 

 

Party officials have been pulling in different directions for months as two camps fight for control ahead of 2022 polls.

The differences escalated on January 6 when party vice chairman David Murathe quit, saying he would no longer work with the DP.

He launched a Stop Ruto movement and said Ruto as unfit to succeed the President.

Five months down the line, politicians and commentators agree the party is facing serious turbulence, especially because groups supporting the two leaders have persisted with their antagonistic activities within and outside the party.

Jubilee has failed to hold key meetings and elections as a result of the push-and-pull succession politics. Ruto has blamed the confusion in Jubilee on ODM leader Raila Odinga who shook hands with the President on March 9 last year.

Kieleweke is an amorphous political group bringing together anti-Ruto forces from Mount Kenya, while the Tangatanga team comprises politicians rooting for the DP in 2022.

As the rival camps have created a chasm within the ruling alliance, the party is unable to present a common position to the BBI-handshake team that concludes its work in October. It has been collecting views from parties, other organisations and people countrywide.

 
 

The bitter differences have destroyed the possibility of a common Jubilee position on contentious issues, including the referendum.

Tuju told the Star on Thursday, "As a party, we are not presenting any views to the BBI. We are a democratic party and our members are free to present their opinions to the BBI. We can't take a position on behalf of Kenyans but we will let Kenyans go for what they want. We want Kenyans to continue having and enjoying freedom on how they should be governed," Tuju told the Star.

Tuju's remarks will further divide the party whose members have been pushing the President to convene a Parliamentary Group Meeting to quell tension and forge unity.

Jubilee has been unable to call the PG meeting to chart the way forward not only on BI proposals but also on the party elections scheduled for March next year.

Already the battle lines are drawn. Team Kieleweke is pushing for a referendum, while their Tangatanga opponents have set conditions for a plebiscite. They say it should not tinker with the governance system or create leadership positions for the opposition and others.

The 14-member BBI taskforce co-chaired by Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji and Adams Oloo intends to conclude public participation by next month.

They will then write the report and are to submit it to President Kenyatta and Raila in October when the BBI's extended term expires.

"We are working under tight deadlines and we will have to present our report before October when our term expires," Raila's lawyer Paul Mwangi told the Star on phone.

"We will only have two sessions with stakeholders in Nairobi before we start compiling the report at the end of the month. We are expecting Jubilee, ODM and ANC to bring their proposals before we wind up the process of collecting views," Mwangi said.

He told the Star the team was concluding hearings in Nyanza before heading to 10 other counties.

Ford Kenya and Wiper have already submitted their proposals.

Ford Kenya has proposed a parliamentary system of government, overhauling the electoral management system and 45 per cent of the national revenue devolved to the counties.

There are voices in Jubilee that are said to be flexing their muscles to challenge the constitutionality of the report the team will compile.

They argue there was no public participation or Parliamentary input into the appointment of the team, hence, any report will be null and void.

"So when the report is finished and given to them (Uhuru and Raila), where will it go? Will it be actionable? We have seen several reports including the JRC that are pending" a Jubilee MP said.

Uhuru has not publicly stated his position, only endorsing constitutional changes to do away with the divisive winner-take-all system, the current system.

DP Ruto has proposed limited changes that create the office of the Official Opposition Leader in Parliament. He does not want an expanded Executive that would dilute his own powers should he become president.

The opposition also wants a three-tier government with 14 regional blocs to reconfigure the country governance.

Ruto wants a presidential candidate and his or her running mate who come second to automatically become MPs and assume leadership of the official Opposition.

In February when giving a talk at Chatham House he said that this formula should apply at the county level as well.

"I further propose that with the Leader of the Opposition taking leadership of the opposition in Parliament, the Deputy President should then take over the Leadership of Government Business in Parliament. This should be replicated with the Deputy Governor at the counties," Ruto said.

The DP said it will be up to Kenyans to decide if they want a change in the Constitution, want the Senate to be elevated into an Upper House with Cabinet Secretaries becoming ex-officio MPs where they can attend weekly sessions to answer questions.

He rejects the proposal by some MPs allied to the opposition that Cabinet Secretaries should be picked from among the MPs.

The DP controls the Parliament, where both Majority Leaders leaders— Aden Duale and Kipchumba Murkomen — in the National Assembly and the Senate, respectively, are allied to him.

The chairmen of the legal committees in both houses are also allied to Ruto in a major hurdle to referendum efforts should he reject the push and rally his troops.

"The problem in Jubilee is succession where people fear that Uhuru might contest for a position of prime minister if the referendum goes through," a top Jubilee senator told the Star.

In January, ODM's Central Management Committee, in a leaked report that was to be presented to the BBI task force, proposed re-introduction the post of Prime Minister. He or she would lead the government and have two deputies.

The president would only be ceremonial and serve a non-renewable seven-year term.

In the leaked report, Jubilee also proposed the introduction of 14 regional governments on top of the national and county governments. It called for the elevation of the Senate to be an Upper House with veto powers.