Inside Ruto-Murathe fight to control Jubilee Party
The political monolith created ahead of the 2017 poll for the re-election of President Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto is a restless house.
And behind-the-scenes vicious fight for its soul between two factions aligned either to Uhuru or Ruto as the 2022 succession war crystallises, is now in the open.
The fallout between the two leaders is threatening to have far-reaching political implications and stability in government.
The latest sour point has been proposed composition of the party’s management team and the return of former vice chairman David Murathe, a diehard Uhuru ally and sworn Ruto rival.
Ruto’s allies in the party, who have coalesced under the Tanga Tanga group, have not only protested the changes, but asked the President to intervene and end the wrangles.
They have dismissed claims Uhuru, who is the party leader, is involved in planning an internal coup in his own political vehicle.
“The President cannot be part of a group planning a coup in his own party. Jubilee is a national party and not a private business. If indeed the party leader has the powers to change party officials without the consent of National Executive Council (NEC), then he would have signed the document himself and they would have been no need for the chairman and Secretary General to sign and forward minutes of a meeting that did not take place,” said Soy MP Caleb Kositany.
Ruto has himself protested the changes in the party and has written to the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu asking her not to act on the letter written by party secretary general Raphael Tuju.
“As Kenyans are focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, some shadowy characters are attempting to fraudulently institute illegal changes in officials of Jubilee party. As deputy party leader, I have alerted the registrar of the fraud. Party members should know that the matter is being handled,” Ruto tweeted last Friday.
But Murathe in his response said: “My concern is how the deputy party leader can go and prosecute matters of the party, interim party affairs on social media. This is the same person who told us he talks with the President daily, so, what informed his decision to go and prosecute party matters on social media?”
Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi also came to the defence of the party leader saying: “President Uhuru is our party leader whose counsel we follow. As leaders of constituent parties that came together to form JP we support the changes. Nevertheless, let us avoid diversionary politics and focus on fighting Covid-19.”
Nderitu in a Kenya Gazette notice dated April 6, gave the party’s intention to change its officials following the presentation of the list by the ruling party.
The party forwarded five new names appointed by President Uhuru in his capacity as the party leader to the powerful National Management Committee following the exit of three others.
Nderitu lists the new officials as Lucy Nyawira Macharia, Prof Marete Marangu, former Kitutu Masaba MP Walter Nyambati, Jane Nampaso and James Waweru.
According to Tuju, former secretary Veronica Maina, Fatuma Shukri and Pamela Mutua resigned after securing jobs in government.Ruto has also written to Nderitu to officially object to the proposed changes from the party leader asking her to stand down the list.
Jubilee national advisory council threw its weight behind Uhuru saying he has veto powers on all decisions of the leadership structures of the party.
But another Ruto ally Kimani Ichung’wa dismissed the council as amorphous, which cannot act on party internal matters.
“I cannot respond to ghosts that do not exist. The council is an amorphous body. I have no time,” said Ichung’wa.
But as the once cohesive party that rotated around the UhuRuto brotherhood, which was rocked by the March 9, 2018 Handshake between President Uhuru and opposition leader Raila Odinga, then jury is still out there on the fate of the party that is mired in vicious infighting.