DP WON'T FIGHT IT

Uhuru, Raila to test Ruto power in BBI vote

The numbers on display would signal to the DP they have the power to sponsor an impeachment motion against him

In Summary
  • The showdown is coming at a time talk is rife of a possible impeachment motion against the DP Ruto, with ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula leading the onslaught.
  • The Savula’s impeachment threat was last week buttressed by Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe’s remarks that Ruto’s eviction party is looming.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of the BBI report on November 27, 2019.
POWER DUO: President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the launch of the BBI report on November 27, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM boss Raila Odinga are plotting an overwhelming approval of the BBI Bill by MPs to demonstrate their might to critics.

And to Deputy President William Ruto who says his troops will not put up a fight as his adversaries hope, denying them a contest.

The Star has established the handshake duo has directed the parliamentary leadership to pull out all the stops to ensure the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is endorsed by more than two-thirds in both Houses.

The numerical strength of passage would send a message to DP Ruto and his  Tangatanga troops who have been claiming the BBI push has no grassroots support.

The looming numbers war in the National Assembly and the Senate is also meant to test Ruto's strength in both Houses of Parliament.

The planned showdown over a BBI vote comes when talk is rife of a possible impeachment motion against Ruto following his acrimonious falling-out with the President, his defiance and his hustler-wheelbarrow narrative.

ANC deputy party leader Ayub Savula has been the face of the clamour to kick out Ruto in what is believed to have the backing of the President's men.

Savula’s impeachment threat was last week buttressed by Jubilee vice chairman David Murathe’s remarks that Ruto’s eviction party is looming.

“The eviction party of the hustler mansion is loading—that one you can take to the bank. Very soon there will be an eviction party from the hustler mansion in Karen and I can assure you it is loading,” Murathe said during an interview with KTN last Thursday.

Speaking to the Star on Monday, Savula reiterated the BBI voting pattern in Parliament will send an alarming message to DP camp. He did not confirm the status of an impeachment push.

“The numbers will be resounding so they send a chilling message to the Tangatanga leader that if you play around we can demolish you,” Savula said on the phone.

All the political bigwigs, including Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Moses Wetang'ula (Ford Kenya) and Charity Ngilu (Narc), are supporting BBI.

In what is billed as a grand parade of the pro-BBI forces in Parliament, Uhuru and Raila are keen to use the occasion to demonstrate that they have majority of Kenyans behind them and the inevitable referendum would be won by landslide.

As part of the House leadership strategy, MPs would debate the Bill in Parliament for about a week before the final vote is taken. All the talk is supposed to influence their constituents.

National Assembly Majority leader Amos Kimunya said just like MCAs, MPs will vote overwhelmingly for constitutional amendments.

“We want to give maximum time, probably a week, and by the time the question is put we hope our members will take their cue from our younger brothers and sisters in the county assemblies who debated and voted based on what was good for their counties,” he said.

In the assemblies, 42 counties endorsed the Bill. Nandi and Baringo rejected it.

Senate Minority leader and Siaya Senator James Orengo said the deliberations on the Bill will start within two weeks.

"In the second week of March, both the houses will decide whether they will carry the debate at the same time or they begin from one house to the other," Orengo said.

However, Ruto allies on Monday appeared to be backing down from a contest saying they are not interested in competition being pushed by their pro-handshake colleagues.

Kilifi North MP Owen Baya – a Ruto ally from Coast – said it is a waste of time for anyone to think of a contest in the coming vote in Parliament.

The ODM lawmaker turned-hustler-movement-crusader said DP Ruto has made his position clear on BBI and his lieutenants in Parliament will not put up a fight on the floor.

On Friday, Ruto made a tactical retreat in Nandi where he declared he is ready to govern the country under any constitution should his 2022 presidential bid succeed.

The DP also ruled out the possibility of him leading a 'No' side, saying he will respect the choice of Kenyans.

“BBI coming to Parliament is just a formality. Whether it fails or passes, it goes to a referendum and we have not taken a position on the referendum. They will score an own goal,” Baya said on the phone.

He added, “I will abstain, I will not vote for something that is not in my agenda.”

Former Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali – another Ruto’s confidant – told the Star that a contest is the last thing anyone should expect when the BBI is formally tabled in Parliament.

The Mumias East MP said their opposition to BBI was mostly on the timing and some grey areas that were ironed out in the final draft.

“We were against the issue of BBI because the timing was wrong and Kenyans had many challenges. The resources being used for BBI would be of help elsewhere. It was a good thing at the wrong time,” Washiali said.

Governance expert and political analyst Javas Bigambo said as in the county assemblies, Ruto is staring at another defeat.

“The truth is that the side of William Ruto has numbers but those numbers are so limited to the extent that they cannot cause any significant effect to forestall any agenda these two leaders want to push,” he told the Star.

Previously, Ruto had given tough conditions to support the BBI, including having the vote alongside the 2022 polls.

He also insisted on a multiple-choice referendum, bringing back 47 women representatives to the National Assembly and scrapping the appointment of Judiciary Ombudsman by the Executive.

The DPs side has gone mute on these conditions.

By Thursday last week, 30 county assemblies had submitted certificates of approvals and copies of the draft Bill.

Kimunya disclosed National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka had set up a joint technical team to receive the communications from the assemblies’ speakers.

The team led by the clerks of the two Houses and consisting of Parliamentary staff will amongst others ascertain that the draft Bill submitted by the Assemblies is the same document issued by the IEBC.

“The two speakers are consulting widely on how to take it forward. In the course of next week (this week) we will have some communication on how we introduce it in Parliament,” Kimunya said on Thursday.

(Edited by V. Graham)