Jubilee legislators meet to seal Leader of Majority fate
President Uhuru Kenyatta meets Jubilee Coalition members of the National Assembly today in what has been billed as a caucus to firm up his grip in the House.
The meeting comes amid widespread reports the fate of Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale has been sealed in expected changes aimed at giving the President firm control of Parliament.
After effecting changes to the Senate leadership, the President is this morning training his guns on Duale and other allies of Deputy President William Ruto holding key positions in the National Assembly.
“Mheshimiwa, I wish to invite you for a Jubilee Coalition, National Assembly Parliamentary Group Meeting, at State House Nairobi, tomorrow, Tuesday June 2, 2020 at 9am. Please be punctual,” read a text sent to all 174 Jubilee MPs and their affiliates.
However, it was not immediately established whether Ruto will attend the meeting.
The People Daily has established that Duale, Majority Chief Whip Ben Washiali and his deputy nominated MP Cecilly Mbarire, alongside a host of House committee chairs, face a purge from prestigious offices after being accused of betrayal.
Possible successors and their acquaintances have been busy trying to win the influence and favour of President Kenyatta, who is keen on stamping his authority in Parliament as he nears the end of his second term.
According to insiders, Washiali is likely to be replaced by Navakholo MP Emanuel Wangwe while Igembe North MP Maoka Maore is being pushed to replace Mbarire as the Deputy Majority Whip.
The President’s close associates including Jubilee Party vice-chairman David Murathe, have decided that Duale, who is in the Deputy President’s camp, must exit alongside Washiali and Mbarire.
Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya and his Kieni counterpart Kanini Kega, both key allies of the President, are being touted as possible replacements.
By last evening it emerged that Kega was being pushed to replace Kimani Ichung’wa as the Budget and Appropriations Committee chairperson in order to have Kimunya as the sole contender to replace Duale.
Earlier, Eldas MP Aden Keynan and Maoka Maore (Igembe North) were also being fronted as possible replacements for Duale, but they are said to have fallen out of favour with Uhuru’s men.
Contacted, Kega declined to confirm or deny that he had been approached to replace Duale but acknowledged that his name was been fronted.
“I have also heard those claims. If given the opportunity, I will be more than willing to serve because I have the capacity,” said Kega.
He, however, clarified that it was the President’s prerogative to decide who occupies what position and at what time in the Jubilee Party.
“I have served before in various capacities and given the opportunity, I am more than willing to serve as National Assembly Majority leader,” he added, insisting that he got what it takes to serve in the position.
Kega, 47, a second-term legislator belongs to the Kieleweke faction of the party that fashions itself as fierce defenders of the President and are said to have his trust.
On the other hand, Kimunya, a former finance and transport minister, who served with Uhuru in the Mwai Kibaki cabinet, stands a good chance to take over the crucial position due to his political stand and charisma.
“Among our Jubilee MPs, Kimunya is the most senior politician whose charisma comes close to Duale’s. You can trace it to Kibaki’s government,” a source who spoke in confidence said.
Asked if he was aware his name was being fronted, Kimunya said it will be premature to discuss the outcome of today’s meeting.
“I have heard very many versions over the same. I don’t want to comment on speculation. Let’s wait for tomorrow please,” he pleaded.
Duale’s critics have taken to various social media platforms to accuse him and Ruto-leaning Tangatanga MPs of exercising bad manners and rebelling against the party, forcing Uhuru to crack the whip.
“You cannot be a Jubilee elected leader and benefit from the association, then be the one undermining the party policies and leadership publicly. This is not democracy. This is rebellion,” Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu wrote on Facebook in support of Duale’s ouster.
Wambugu claims that a few weeks ago Duale publicly stated that President Kenyatta was being dishonest with Raila in the BBI process, and that at an opportune moment Uhuru will throw opposition chief under the bus.
“He has never refuted this very serious and baseless allegation,” the Nyeri Town MP alleged.
Wambugu said Jubilee Party cannot have a leader who casts aspersions on the integrity of the President in Parliament and therefore leading the BBI process in the House.
“……as we head into an intensely critical period of delivering BBI to Kenyans, that will call for mutual trust, honesty and humility between ourselves, Raila’s troops, and all our other (new) coalition partners,” he said.
“For this primary reason, I strongly support the push to have him changed as Majority Leader of the Jubilee Party in the National Assembly.”
However, Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi has cautioned President Kenyatta, saying Jubilee will not get a more loyal, eloquent and hardworking individual like Duale.
“The names being tossed or peddled around as his replacement are rabbits, cats and foxes compared to the lion the party has,” Abdullahi wrote on Twitter.
His sentiments were shared by former Wajir West MP Abdikadir Ore who said: “Petty politics aside, the Hon Aden Duale, I know cannot be matched by the current crop. Jubilee needs him.”
In a thinly veiled attack at Abdullahi, Nairobi lawyer Donald Kipkorir says that for the President to achieve his legacy he must put his loyalists in all parliamentary leadership positions.
“With Samuel Poghisio as Senate Majority Leader, Kanini Kega ought to be National Assembly Majority Leader. Loyalty is premium,” Kipkorir Tweeted last Tuesday.