SHIFTING POLITICAL DYNAMICS

Waititu impeachment divide shows 'Jubilee is functionally dead'

Since the juggernaut was cobbled up less than one year before the 2017 General Election, the party organs haven’t met for a long time

In Summary

• Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen presented a list from the Jubilee side on Tuesday during the Senate special sitting without any consultation with members. 

• The majority of the senators who opposed the committee came from Jubilee, such as Abshiro Halakhe, Farhiya Haji, John Kinyua, Sakaja Johnson, Samuel Phogisio and yours truly.

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu
Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu

This week witnessed some political drama in the Senate when a list by leader of Majority Kipchumba Murkomen was rejected on the floor of the House.

It was clear that Murkomen’s list was engineered to a pre-determined outcome. This is so because out of the 11 proposed members, six were from the Jubilee side. However, a keen look at the names revealed a pattern that reflected a certain political orientation.

It is now clear to all and sundry that all is not well within the party. In fact, for all practical purposes, Jubilee is functionally dead. Since the juggernaut was cobbled up less than one year before the 2017 General Election, the party organs haven’t met for a long time, with the last parliamentary meeting having been held in 2017.

 

The only officials who are publicly active on behalf of the party are David Murathe, the resigned vice chairman but whose name is still at the Registrar of Political Parties, and Raphael Tuju, the secretary general.

If you asked Kenyans who voted for the party who is the national chairman is, the majority have no idea. In fact, the latter had in 2017 vied to be East African Legislative Assembly member, but his own party couldn’t sponsor him through. The parliamentary meetings haven’t happened and it has been left to the Majority leaders to determine party positions on their own account with minimal consultation.

It is out of this background, coupled with the ever-shifting political dynamics, that Murkomen presented a list from the Jubilee side on Tuesday during the Senate special sitting without any consultation with members. 

The majority of the senators who opposed the committee came from Jubilee, such as Abshiro Halakhe, Farhiya Haji, John Kinyua, Sakaja Johnson, Samuel Phogisio and yours truly.

The initial debate led by the House leadership appeared choreographed until the dissenting voices became louder. This is despite the incessant points of order from the Majority leader that were more about points of arguments rather than provisions of the Standing Orders.

When Siaya Senator and Minority leader James Orengo asked for the House to adjourn for 10 minutes for consultations, members agreed with him. However, a meeting by Jubilee senators at the Senate lounge couldn’t agree as to whether the committee be allowed to proceed or the Senate plenary be given the mandate to carry out the impeachment.

When a vote was called to determine the matter, we staged a walkout when it was clear that the majority of the Jubilee senators preferred the plenary way.

 

Upon resuming the House proceedings, the mover was called to reply. When the matter was put to a vote, the Nays had it since the opposition voted with a section of Jubilee legislators.

What was outstanding though is the fact that in the select committee, no single senator from the traditional Central Kenya was considered suitable to be a member.

Curiously, the Minority whip and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula were absent during the voting, despite their strong defense on the committee.

Further, a question arises as to why the Speaker recalled the House after the lapse of the stipulated period of seven days as provided for in Section 33 of the County Government Act. This provision confers express powers to the speaker and is different from standing order number 30 that is member-led; where at least 15 senators can petition the Speaker to recall the House, due to a matter of national concern.

The Senate has a role to protect the interests of the counties and cannot be seen to side with accused governors. The people of Kiambu continue to suffer since Governor Ferdinand Waititu is barred from office, while the acting Governor, James Nyoro,  doesn’t have the full mandate.

Service delivery has been affected greatly in terms of roads, medicine in hospitals, water and sanitation, ward development priorities etc, yet the county is the second-most populous after Nairobi, with 2.42 million residents.

It acts as the dormitory of the capital city and together, they have a combined night population of 6.8 million, constituting nearly 15 per cent of the total Kenyan population, and controlling over 45 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Kiambu county, where the President comes from, cannot, therefore, be left to waste away. It’s too important for the country.

This is why many residents under the Okoa Kiambu initiative kept a peaceful vigil outside the Senate, pilling pressure on senators to stand with them in the fight against corruption.

Waititu faces charges from the EACC, which this week sought to recover Sh147 million through a tender awarded to Testimony Company Limited and through which he allegedly received a benefit of Sh25, 624,500.

The merits and demerits of his impeachment shall be canvassed during the plenary meant for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week. May the people of Kiambu get justice through the Senate, in an objective, impartial and justiciable manner.