How Kindiki got himself onto the chopping block

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020 00:00 |
Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki. PHOTO | FILE

Eric Wainaina and Emeka-Mayaka Gekara @EWainaina

Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, was among the rising political stars in the Mt Kenya region, and was even touted as a possible running-mate for Deputy President William Ruto in 2022 after successfully outfoxing veteran politicians in the larger Meru politics.

Prof Kindiki had used his former position as Senate Majority Leader and his closeness to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto to position himself as the Mt Kenya East kingpin. He was set to reap from growing demands from the Meru community that Central Kenya should support one of them for the top job.

However, today, Kindiki’s political future hangs on a thread following an impeachment motion which could see him kicked out as the Senate Deputy Speaker in an escalation of Uhuru’s purge of DP allies from key posts over divided loyalty.

 Newly-elected Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata indicated that he will today initiate the process of Kindiki’s removal for failing to attend a Jubilee Coalition Parliamentary Group meeting where Ruto’s surrogates were shown the door last week.

“I beg to move that this House Senate resolves that Senator Kithure Kindiki be removed from the office of the Deputy Speaker,” reads the notice by Kang’ata, the Murang’a senator who has emerged as the driver of the President’s agenda warhorse in the House.

Change of loyalty

With the removal of Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchuma Murkomen as Majority Leader and Nakuru’s Susan Kihika as Majority Whip last week, Kindiki remains Ruto’s sole key ally in Senate leadership. 

The move follows the careful change of loyalty to the President’s side by Speaker Ken Lusaka, who was accused of throwing Murkomen and Kihika under the bus.

Observers and leaders who spoke to  People Daily yesterday said Kindiki thrust himself in the eye of the political storm by continuing to associate himself with Ruto’s allies who have been accused defying Uhuru’s directives.

Igembe North MP Maoka Maore, an ardent Uhuru ally, said the senator’s continued stance in favour of the DP as shown by his actions and the people he is associated with had placed him on a collision path with the President.

 “Kindiki holds a very sensitive position and from how he has been behaving, including his decisions while presiding the House sessions, shows that he is 100 per cent Tanga Tanga. If Uhuru was looking for allies to work with, I doubt Kindiki would be one of them,” Maoka said. 

The MP cited Kindiki’s recent ruling against Uhuru’s move to take over key operations of Nairobi County through the Nairobi Metropolitan Service as a move that could have angered the President.

Kindiki, following a motion by Murkomen, ordered an investigation into the President’s conduct in the take over process, and gave the matter to the Devolution and Justice and Legal Affairs committees which, are chaired by Senators  Joseph Kinyua (Laikipia) and Samson Cherargei (Nandi), both Ruto surrogates.

 But Lusaka later suspended the probe whose outcome, it was feared, may have compromised the President’s decision.  

Dr. Obuya Bagaka, a political scientist, yesterday said with Kindiki being a well-known ally of the DP, Uhuru is justified in his fears that the Deputy Speaker could use his position to sabotage his agenda, especially on legislation.

“It would be risky for the President to have him as the Deputy Speaker, who is a member of the powerful House Business committee since he can make decisions that can override his wishes,” he said.

Efforts to reach the senator yesterday were unsuccessful but people close to him said he had surrendered to the party’s wishes, which, however, would require support from two thirds of senators.

Kindiki came to the limelight in 2011 when he appeared among the lead lawyers representing Uhuru and Ruto as they battled charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, linked to the 2007 post-election violence. It’s this effort which earned him admiration from Uhuru and Ruto’s backers, and he exploited it to win the Tharaka Nithi Senate seat on the The National Alliance (TNA) ticket.

Reward for efforts

In the run up to the 2013 elections, Kindiki led a team of lawyers who drafted the Jubilee coalition constitution which brought together Uhuru’s TNA and Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP).

 In what was seen as a reward for his efforts, the lawyer was elected the Leader of Majority at the Senate against veterans such as the current Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi (then Meru Senator) and Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe (former Nyeri Senator) who were forced to step down.

The position placed Kindiki at a top post in the rank and file of the ruling coalition, side-stepping the seniors and boosted his political influence in Mount Kenya region that during the last term, he was touted among the choice of Ruto’s running mate under the 2013 pact between TNA and URP.

He was a member of the flamboyant “Sky Team” which comprised Murkomen, who was then his deputy, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa and Moses Kuria, which crisscrossed the country in choppers to campaign for Jubilee and market Ruto as Uhuru’s successor.

East Africa Legislative Assembly MP Mpuru Apuri, an ally of the President, yesterday said while Uhuru was right in the cleanup, Kindiki should be given a second chance but maintained the President must be respected as the Head of State and the Mount Kenya kingpin.

“Uhuru must be respected... like it happens with other communities. Raila is the Luo leader, Ruto for Kalenjin and we will not allow ours to be disrespected,”  Apuri said.

Maore, however, said they would require a “post-Kindiki ouster arrangement” between the party and the populous Meru region to appease them. 

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