President Uhuru reads Riot Act to MPs as Ruto allies fired
Eric Wainaina @EWainaina
Candid and authoritative, is how Jubilee Party MPs described President Uhuru Kenyatta’s address that landed yet another blow on his deputy William Ruto after two of his close allies were kicked out of key House leadership positions.
However, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, who was expected be shown the door during a Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting at State House yesterday, was surprisingly spared.
But Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, the party Chief Whip, was not as lucky as he was kicked out and replaced by Navakholo member Emanuel Wangwe, while Igembe North’s Maoka Maore replaced Cecily Mbarire (Nominated) as Deputy Whip.
Kitutu Chache North MP Jimmy Angwenyi was retained as the Deputy Leader of Majority.
Washiali and Mbarire are perceived to be Ruto’s surrogates, and according to Duale, more changes will be effected in the committees as the President moves to stamp his authority in both Houses of Parliament.
“The Parliamentary Group meeting replaced Hon. Benjamin Washiali as the Majority Whip with Hon. Emmanuel Wangwe. Hon. Cecily Mbarire was replaced by Hon. Richard Maoka Maore as the Deputy Whip.
Further, the Party Leader appointed Hon. Amos Kimunya to serve as the Secretary of the Jubilee Coalition Joint Parliamentary Group,” read a communication by State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena.
Yesterday’s changes followed a similar purge in the Senate that saw Kipchumba Murkomen, Susan Kihika and Kithure Kindiki removed as Majority Leader, Majority Whip and Deputy Speaker, respectively.
But at yesterday’s meeting which was reported to have lasted less than an hour and attended by Ruto, Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju and 212 lawmakers, Uhuru was said to have been assertive and warned that he will not tolerate anyone opposed to his agenda.
Only the President, Ruto and Tuju addressed the tense meeting.
The tough talking President is said to have warned his critics, especially the Tanga Tanga group, that is associated with the Deputy President, not to take his silence for weakness, saying he was privy to all the insults directed at him from the camp.
“You will know me, I will be so hard on you. I know what you have been doing and how you have been referring to me.
Those names that you have branded me. I know them, I am always given intelligence on each of you when you are still asleep,” the President is reported to have told the MPs who checked into State House as early as 8am.
The DP, who was invited to speak by Tuju, a man he has bitterly accused of frustrating him in the party, was reported to have been brief and diplomatic in his speech in support of the President, who said he was ready to work with anyone who would support his agenda.
“The DP did not say much, all he said is that he was behind the President and that the PG meeting was his (Uhuru’s) day,” an MP present told People Daily.
There was consensus from both the President’s allies and those supporting the DP that Uhuru was tough and appeared unwilling to take any more criticism from leaders who have been fighting him and his agenda, mostly over the fight against corruption and the national cohesion project under the Building the Bridges Initiative (BBI).
The BBI is a product of the March 9, 2018 Handshake between the Head of State and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Soy MP Caleb Kositany, a close ally of the DP, described the President’s tone as “terrible and authoritative”, saying Uhuru was “too harsh” on the legislators, even as he protested that Washiali and Mbarire’s removal was due to their association with Ruto, not incompetence.
“The President’s tone was terrible and thank God he even swallowed some words. He didn’t let them out. It was ‘either my way or the highway’.
These people (Washiali and Mbarire) have been removed solely because they seem to be on the same agenda with the Deputy President,” the MP who is the Jubilee Party deputy secretary general said.
“We have waited for a PG for three years and any serious political party that has not had a meeting for three years should sit the whole day to deliberate on issues that have accumulated over that time.
No body spoke, only the master of ceremonies who welcomed someone to prayer, then called Tuju who called the DP, who then called the President,” he said.
Another MP from Central Kenya who wished not to be named, said other than effecting the changes in the House leadership, the President used the meeting to assert his authority as the Head of State and also as the leader of a party whose members he expected to support his agenda.
“The meeting was tense. The boss was very annoyed and I think he did what he wanted to do.
He was authoritative; there was no doubt about that. He reiterated the words he said during the first PG about serving Kenyans, and that he has two years pending to deliver and for those who do not want to work with him, they must respect him,” said the MP.
“Even Duale knows he was going, because I think the boss had made a decision not to remove him because he actually was to read something but went silent.
He said that he was once told by an elder that whenever his father (founding President Jomo Kenyatta) drew a sword, he always chopped some meat but in his case he sometimes returns the sword to the sheath without cutting.”
According to the legislators, the President did not say anything about Duale. He only read the names of the other leaders and asked the MPs to endorse them.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, who has been campaigning for Duale’s sacking, however, welcomed Uhuru’s move, saying it was the President’s the prerogative to decide on one’s loyalty.
“I have been categorical that I was not sure that Duale was the right person for the position but that decision belongs to the President who is the boss. If the boss has decided to keep him, we will support the decision because ours is to support the President,” said the MP, a fierce critic of the DP.
Gatanga MP Ngugi Ndiati, an ally of the President, said the changes were necessary because they will help Uhuru work with people who support his agenda.
“The team that has been picked is a great one and it’s loyal to the President and we are sure that they are going to help him in implementing his agenda,” the MP said.