REALITY CHECK

Jubilee Party chiefs blame Uhuru men for Kiambaa fiasco

Some Uhuru allies have piled pressure on Dzuya, Murathe and Tuju to resign blaming them for mismanaging ruling party

In Summary
  • It emerged that Kenyatta's civil service advisers waged supremacy battles, took over the campaigns behind the scenes
  • Tuju downplays claims of  external interference, saying the JP secretariat did its job as expected.
UDA supported during the last day of the campaigns in Kiambaa
UDA supported during the last day of the campaigns in Kiambaa
Image: UDA

The narrow but humbling loss in the Kiambaa by-election has sparked off a fierce blame game in Jubilee, with high-ranking party bosses claiming bureaucrats from the Office of the President hijacked the campaign strategy and cash.

It emerged yesterday that Kenyatta's civil service advisers waged supremacy battles, took over the campaigns behind the scenes and bullied party campaign managers.

Interviews pieced together from top party officials paint a picture of a shambolic and rudderless team unable to effectively hit the ground for popular but doomed candidate Kariri Njama.

A senior official who asked not to be named painted the picture of the office being left as a bystander in the management of the ruling party's election affairs.

"It is easy to have the blame on party officials but we are relegated to the periphery as some people ran what should be our mandate," the official said.

"People at the OP (Office of the President) should restrict themselves to the issuance of IDs, provision of relief food and such like functions," the official said, adding they are infuriated by the unfolding events. 

Yesterday, Joseph Mathai, the Jubilee regional coordinator for Kiambu and Murang’a counties, recounted how senior civil servants, whom he decided not to name, at the Office of the President kicked out party officials from the Kiambaa campaign.

Mathai, a former TNA executive director, said the mandarins literally took over leaving party officials as mere spectators.

“You can imagine that being the guy in charge of that region, I was never involved in that campaign so when somebody points a finger at me I think they should be checked,” he told Star on phone.

Mathai claimed the same bureaucrats bungled the Juja parliamentary by-election in which little known People Empowerment Party beat Jubilee in mid-May. PEP is linked to Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.

“We blame it (the twin loses) on the people who went there and excluded the Secretary-General and his experienced directors who had come from the merged 12 political parties. Our track record is simple, if anybody wants to know how capable we are, we delivered 2013 and the much-contested election of 2017,” he said.

“They should look at the electoral calendar, if you want to get involved in politics and you are a civil servant, there is a date for you to resign then you come and join us. We are not going to have pseudo civil servants, pseudo politicians interfering with electoral processes. Our role was reduced to prayers,” Mathai said.

Jubilee, it emerged, picked Njama after party intelligence reports identified him as the most popular and who would deliver the much needed by-election victory.

In hindsight, party bosses claim Njama had all along been a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto and in February hosted Ruto in Kiambaa against the wishes of powerful opinion leaders in the party.

Senior and influential bureaucrats, on account of the reports, approached Njama who was already eyeing the UDA ticket to switch to Jubilee.

On Friday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission announced United Democratic Alliance candidate Njuguna Wanjiku the winner.

Wanjiku garnered 21,773 to beat Jubilee’s Kariri Njama who got 21,263 votes in Kenyatta's turf.

George Koimburi of PEP who was being supported by Deputy President William Ruto beat Jubilee's Susan Njeri in Juja after he garnered 12 ,159 votes against her 5,746 votes.

Jubilee has also lost county assembly by-elections in Nakuru and Nyandarua.

MPs have put piled pressure on chairman Nelson Dzuya, vice chairman David Murathe and secretary general Raphael Tuju to resign for the losses that have “humiliated” Kenyatta in Mt Kenya.

They want them to resign to pave way for new leaders or they be forcefully kicked out .

Kieni MP Kanini Kega, one of the leading lights in the Jubilee campaigns in Kiambaa, kicked off the storm saying the top officials should resign.

“We have to make some painful and hard decisions as we move forward. If you are a Jubilee national official and your name is not in the list, kindly submit your letter of resignation immediately before we physically eject you from the headquarters,” Kanini, a close confidant of the President, wrote on social media on Saturday.

He listed the President, deputy secretary general Joshua Kutuny, acting executive director Wambui Gichuru and director of communication Albert Memusi as those who should not resign.

Kanini’s call on the top officials to quit was supported by Laikipia Woman Representative Catherine Waruguru who said the party is faced with huge problems and mistrust.

Waruguru, who has announced that she is on her way out of Jubilee, said the outfit has been held captive by forces who are hell bent on bringing it down.

“What is ailing Jubilee and why it is continually doing badly is poor leadership. In the process you do not walk with the people, you walk alone. One day you will look back only to realise that you have been left alone. The Jubilee Party has been grabbed and has been reduced to a paper party,” she said on Saturday in during a function in Laikipia county.

There are speculations that the firebrand Woman Representative who has announced that she will be running for Laikipia East MP in the August 9 2022 election could be on her way rejoin Ruto’s UDA.

The fresh pressure mounted on Dzuiya, Murathe and Tuju to resign comes weeks after Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui and his Kirinyaga counterpart Ann Waiguru also called on the team to quit following the poor show of Jubilee in Juja and Rurii ward by-elections.

But reached for comment, Tuju downplayed the external interference saying the JP secretariat conducted the interviews and alongside the political wing did what they could during the campaigns.

“Nominations were conducted at JP headquarters, can they tell me the civil servant they saw at the headquarters? We did what we could as secretariat, the rest were done by politicians on the ground,” Tuju said.

He also dismissed calls for his resignation, saying as the party’s spokesperson he expected to be on the receiving end in situations where the party is deemed to be in a crisis.

“I don’t like to have a back and forth with my members especially the elected ones because the members are my employers and bosses so I would expect the right channel to be followed because it is inappropriate for an employee to be answering back to his employers,” he said.

He added: “What I find amusing is that ODM - for example - lost in Ugenya and nobody went for Sifuna’s blood or if there is a loss of ODM in Homa Bay would it be appropriate to bay for Sifuna’s blood? When people are baying for my blood there is nothing I can do about it.”

He also dismissed reports of a crisis meeting at Jubilee headquarters over the Kiambaa defeat, explaining it is a routine meeting of the party’s NMC.

“Nothing unusual, we meet as NMC every week. We meet weekly virtually. When we meet an agenda is developed and if Kiambaa comes on the agenda what is unusual about it? I expect Kiambaa to get into the agenda,” he said.

Edited by Henry Makori