DISMISSES KIMUNYA CRITICISM

I'm not in fight with Uhuru over my BBI letter — Kang'ata

Senate Majority whip says he remains loyal to Jubilee Party but is ready to relinquish post if pushed out.

In Summary

• Late last month, Kang'ata penned a letter to Uhuru in which he said only two in every 10 people in the President’s backyard support the BBI.

• He urged the President to personally take charge of popularising proposed constitutional amendments in the region, lest he be left with an egg on the face.

Senate Majority whip Irungu Kangata on January 11, 2020.
Senate Majority whip Irungu Kangata on January 11, 2020.
Image: EZEKIEL AMINGA

Embattled Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang'ata has stuck to his guns that the BBI is unpopular in Mt Kenya and insinuated that he is ready to pay the price for his views.

Addressing journalists at Parliament Buildings on Monday, Kang'ata said the BBI is facing "systematic political problems" that need to be addressed to save the government from "embarrassment".

“I respect the presidency. I will continue being loyal to the party but notwithstanding that, I think I still have an obligation to talk the truth… the truth is there is a systemic political problem that needs some intervention in our county of Murang’a and in the larger Mt Kenya,” Kang'ata said.

And in what could worsen his woes in Jubilee and widen rift with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kang'ata has sided with Deputy President William Ruto’s call for a multiple-choice referendum to save the BBI from total rejection.

Late last month, he penned a radical letter to Uhuru saying that only two in every 10 people in the President’s backyard support the BBI. He urged the President to personally take charge of popularising the document in the region, lest he be left with egg on the face.

The senator said he was ready to leave his current position of Majority Whip if the party decides to de-whip him on the basis of the letter.

“If for any reason that [removal] was to occur, there is nothing I can do. I just thank the party for that period I have served them as their leader and I will remain respectful to my superiors and authorities,” he said.

"I cannot enter an arena of fighting with my boss but I only strongly believe it is important as political leaders to say the truth, to report the truth and to be honest and candid in our endeavour when it comes to matters like this one, which has the potentiality to embarrass the government.”

He evaded question on whether he was planning to ditch the President's faction for Ruto's, saying he is a whip for Jubilee Party and does not believe in 'factional' leadership.

“As to whether I am shifting my political allegiance, let me tell Kenyans, myself as a whip, I believe in a one united Jubilee. I work for the Jubilee Party. I work without considering those factions. I don’t believe in hatred. I believe in peace and harmony.”

The Murang’a senator, however, said he wrote the letter in good faith and reiterated his loyalty to the President despite Uhuru’s outburst last week about the letter. He said he will continue supporting the Jubilee administration.

Kang'ata said the perception that the BBI was being pushed by a faction of Jubilee Party and use of provincial administration to advance it has made the drive unmarketable in the region.

“I got the perception that the BBI is a project of a faction of Jubilee. The impression I got is that the people want the agenda to be pushed by a one, united Jubilee and not weaponised for politics. They want a BBI that is non-politicised,” he said.

He insisted that he made the observation after meeting residents, opinion leaders and professionals from Murang'a who expressed their reservations about the BBI.

He said he has the obligation to tell the government the truth and hit out at National Assembly Majority leader Amos Kimunya for attacking him and not telling the President the truth.

“My survey was limited to Murang’a but I did what we call triangulation and I realised that what happens in Murang’a appears to echo in the other counties in the region,” he said.