How Ruto allies lost plot to save Waititu in Senate

Friday, January 31st, 2020 00:00 |
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen during a past session at Senate. Photo/PD/File

Emeka-Mayaka Gekara and Eric Wainaina

Senate Leader of Majority  Kipchumba Murkomen on Wednesday thrust himself in an awkward position.  

The Senator from Elgeyo Marakwet, who is one of Deputy President William Ruto’s acerbic surrogates, was forced to vote against a motion for the removal of Kiambu governor Ferdinard Waititu, which he had himself moved before the Senate.

It is unusual for a lawmaker to vote against his own motion, an issue that was quickly pointed out by his Senate colleagues James Orengo (Minority Leader), George Khaniri (Vihiga) and Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni).

“You cannot move a motion and then contradict it,” said Orengo.

Murkomen was the face of Ruto’s Tanga Tanga brigade which had designed a quiet plot to rescue the governor, who is a supporter of the Deputy President’s political ambitions.

Clearly outnumbered

And, Waititu, who was on Wednesday impeached, became the first governor casualty of the alliance between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga, whose senators teamed up to kick out the Kiambu county chief over abuse of office and violation of the Constitution. 

During the vote, the Murkomen group was clearly outnumbered, perhaps a pointer that the Senate might not be a comfortable battle ground in future for the DP’s allies after the Uhuru-Raila pact of March 2018.

“The process at the County Assembly was wrong. There was no quorum when the motion of impeachment was passed.

The County Assembly did not meet the threshold of impeaching the governor,” said Murkomen while imploring the Senate to reject the request to remove Waititu. 

In the battle to rescue Waititu, Murkomen had a ready army comprising Ruto’s allies such as Nakuru’s Susan Kihika (Majority Whip), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), Samson Cherargei (Nandi), John Kinyua (Laikipia), Anwar Loitiptip (Lamu) Mithika Linturi (Meru), Christopher Langat (Bomet) and Millicent Omanga (Nominated). 

The group waged a spirited fight to save the governor indicted of depriving a widow of a Sh100 million piece of land in Thika and awarding his family members multi-million shillings worth of tenders.

“The widow’s evidence had not been substantiated. We are not here to rubber-stump decisions of the County Assembly. 

The process is important. We did not have evidence that the issue of the quorum was addressed. The governor’s right to be heard was taken away. That was a miscarriage of justice,” said Kihika.

 Cleary, the Murkomen’s team seemed aware that they were fighting a losing battle, their scheme to save the governor having been thwarted last week when senators rejected a proposed committee by the Senate Majority Leader which they saw as tailored to clear Waititu. 

Murkomen had proposed Kihika as vice-chairperson of the special committee, Linturi, Cheruiyot, Hargura Godana (Marsabit), Loitiptip and Iman Falhada (Nominated), who are all members of Tanga Tanga team.

The Opposition side had Kakamega’s Cleophas Malala (chairperson), Mohammed Faki (Mombasa), Okong’o Omogeni (Nyamira) and Fred Outa (Kisumu) while Wiper Party had proposed Sylvia Kasanga (Nominated).

The senators’ fears were confirmed on Wednesday when all the Jubilee members picked by Murkomen for the special committee voted in support of Waititu.

This means that the Tanga Tanga group would have outnumbered their opposition colleagues to save Waititu at the committee level.

While rejecting the team last week, the senators read a plot to scuttle the impeachment.

Senator Malala, who was set to chair the special committee, told People Daily that the Jubilee’s Tanga Tanga wing, which holds key House leadership positions, had been positioned to save Waititu at the committee level.

“The idea was to have a committee whose majority would have ruled that all the allegations raised against the governor were not substantiated and, therefore, the matter would have died instantly.

The Tanga Tanga team had six members strategically placed in the team. There were no pro-Uhuru members in it,” Malala who voted against the lineup, said.

Special committee

According to Malala, had the special committee been okayed, the House would not have had opportunity to interrogate the issues raised on merit. 

According to Standing Order 75, a special committee is supposed to report to the Senate on whether it finds the particulars of the allegations against a governor to have been substantiated.

“If the special committee reports that the particulars of any allegation against the governor have not been substantiated, no further actions shall be taken under this section in respect of that allegation,” reads the Standing Orders. This is the card that the DP’s allies intended to deploy.

Senator Omogeni said the membership was designed to reach a predetermined decision, noting that some Jubilee senators had instructions to reach a particular outcome.

“They were six while we from the Opposition were five. We would have been outnumbered at the committee stage. We would have been used to rubber-stamp a decision that had been decided elsewhere.

My conscience, standing and reputation would have not allowed me to participate in a process that was meant to deny the people of Kiambu justice,” Omogeni said.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kan’gata, an ally of the President, and who was among those opposed to the committee, said that despite holding a leadership position in the House where he is the deputy majority whip, he had been kept in the dark on how the committee was constituted.

The senator questioned why Murkomen brought a lineup with the chair and the vice already decided instead of letting members choose.

“The Waititu motion came with designations of chair and vice chair yet the Standing Orders require select committees to elect their chair within 24 hours. Some of these waters are unchartered, but there is need for consistency,” Kang’ata said.

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