NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CHANGES

Uhuru axes 16 Ruto allies from plum committee jobs

MPs have received communication of their impending removal from Majority Whip Emmanuel Wangwe

In Summary
  • Those axed were issued with seven days notice of the intended purge.
  • Ruto allies claim de-whipping a political scheme to intimidate them into submission.
President Uhuru Kenyatta with Deputy President William Ruto during the 57th Madaraka Day Celebrations at State House Gardens in Nairobi on June 1, 2020
WIDENING RIFT President Uhuru Kenyatta with Deputy President William Ruto during the 57th Madaraka Day Celebrations at State House Gardens in Nairobi on June 1, 2020
Image: PSCU:

Sixteen allies of Deputy President William Ruto have been axed from their plum positions in National Assembly committees in a continuation of the purge against perceived rebels.

The MPs who serve as chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of various committees have been served with seven-day notices of imminent removal.

 
 

Four chairpersons and 12 members – most of them holding vice-chair posts, will lose their lucrative positions.

The move means newly installed Majority Chief Whip Emmanuel Wangwe will next Thursday communicate to Speaker Justine Muturi about the changes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has orchestrated a  ruthless purge targeting Ruto's allies whom the President has accused of insulting him and undermining his leadership.

Influential Tangatanga member and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa will lose his position as chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Vocal Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria will be removed from the Transport committee where he serves as vice-chairman.

Baringo North MP William Cheptumo will also be removed from the chairmanship of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

Also chopped is Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Shollei who chairs the Delegated Legislation Committee.

 
 

Mandera South MP Adan Haji has been removed as chairman of the Agriculture committee while Machakos Town MP Victor Munyaka is set to lose the chairmanship of the Sports committee.

Endebess MP Robert Pukose has been ejected as vice-chair of the Energy committee while Alice Wahome will lose her position as vice-chair of the Justice and Legal Affairs committee.

Bomet Woman Representative Joyce Korir has been de-whipped as vice-chair of the Labour committee while Lunga Lunga MP Khatib Mwashetani will be removed as vice-chairman of the Lands committee

Also facing removal as vice-chairpersons of committees are Turkana South MP James Lomenen (Cohesion), Nakuru Woman Representative Liza Chelule (Broadcasting) and Laikipia Woman Representative Catherine Waruguru (Members' Services).

Sirisia MP John Waluke will lose the vice-chairmanship of the committee on Administration while Aldai’s Cornelius Serem has been removed from the Trade panel.

Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi has been removed as vice-chairperson of the  Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee.

However, three chairpersons have been spared because they are considered moderates.

They are David Pkosing of Transport and Moses Lessonet of the Budget Committee and Joseph Limo of Finance.

“They have been spared for the time being… we will be monitoring their conduct in executing their mandate,” a source familiar with the changes told the Star.

Cheptumo, set for ouster from JLAC, however, said he was yet to receive the letter from the Majority chief whip.

“I am yet to receive any communication in regards to my removal from the committee I chair,” The Baringo North lawmaker said.

Mwashetani however said he had received the communication.

"I will reply to the letter to confirm my loyalty to the President and the party. I won't just keep quiet yet I have received a letter. It is prudent for me to answer," he said.

Those de-whipped are fierce defenders of DP Ruto under the auspices of the Tangatanga movement.

The changes to the committees come hot on the heels of a stormy Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting at State House on Tuesday in which Ruto's other allies were ejected from leadership posts.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali was removed as Majority chief whip and Cecily Mbarire as deputy whip. They were replaced by Wangwe and Igembe North MP Maoka Maore respectively.

Leader of Majority Aden Duale – once touted as among those who were to be shown the door, survived the annihilation that fell upon his Senate counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen last month.

Murkomen was removed alongside Kithure Kindiki and Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika. Kindiki was the deputy speaker of the Senate with Kihika serving as the Majority whip.

One of the affected chairpersons told the Star in confidence that their removal has nothing to do with them failing but everything to do with 2022 succession politics.

The lawmaker said the changes are unfortunate especially in the face of the fact that “they have always treated committees as a means to help President Kenyatta achieve his agenda.”

He said Kenyans and critics have lost the point on the crucial role Parliament plays in a system where the President and ministers don’t sit in the House.

“As the leadership of the committees, we play the role of the Executive. I have been alive to the fact that once you chair one, you become a nexus of the President’s success.”

The Jubilee Party has been in the eye of a storm following the widening split between President Kenyatta and DP William Ruto’s allies.

The bone of contention, going by the President’s recent remarks, stemmed from a concern the DP’s side was into early campaigns.

With two years to end of his term, President Kenyatta has cut an image of a man keen on sealing his legacy of development and national unity.

Another bone of contention has been on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) whose momentum is geared towards a constitutional change with a referendum expected before 2022.

Ruto has declared interest in succeeding Uhuru, a cause that saw most of the lawmakers facing disciplinary action side with him.

Most of those in the lot chose not to comment openly on their predicament saying the most important thing for them now is “the support of the people who sent us to Parliament.”

The general concern by most of the purged members is that there is a misunderstanding on where the pro-DP politics ends, and what their watchdog role entails.

Another lawmaker argued that very soon, people – including those cheering the bloodbath, “will criticise Parliament for going to bed with the Executive.”

“This is because most people want antagonist oversight. It is time we fostered and vouched for partnership oversight. Presidential models only work with partnerships,” the MP said in anonymity citing fear of further reprisals.

 

Edited by P.O