Tough balancing as Kang’ata turns against Senate friends
Eric Wainaina @EWainaina
Before his elevation to the position of Chief Whip Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata and former Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki, were close political allies.
They joined parliament at the same time in 2013 on the defunct The National Alliance (TNA) party ticket and hail from the president’s Mt Kenya backyard.
The close political association meant that they would regularly fight from the same corner in defence of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s agenda in the House having been elected on the ruling Jubilee Party ticket in the last General Election.
But with his appointment as the Whip, Kang’ata has turned into a zealous prosecutor in cases and matters against his former political friends as he carries the burden of pushing Uhuru’s agenda in and out of Parliament. This occasionally puts him on a collision path with his colleagues and their supporters.
Notably, Kang’ata was instrumental in removing the Tharaka Nithi senator from his powerful position, having tabled an impeachment motion against him on May 22, in a move that angered his colleagues who still think he is being used by Uhuru to fight them politically.
Kang’ata also prosecuted the removal of Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen as Majority Leader and just like his National Assembly counterpart Emmanuel Wangwe, he led the de-whipping of members allied to Deputy President William Ruto from key House leadership positions.
He also prosecuted a case where Jubilee accused senators Millicent Omanga, Victor Prengei and Falhada Iman of disobeying its leadership after they boycotted a State House Parliamentary Group Meeting where Murkomen and Susan Kihika (Nakuru) were de-whipped.
Together with his recent task to mobilise the House to save beleaguered Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru from impeachment, which annoyed the county leadership led by Senator Charles Kibiru, this illustrates the burden shouldered by the new House leadership team given to them by the party boss.
Dr Michael Mugo, the director of Foundation for Dialogue and a political analyst told People Daily that given circumstances under whip Kang’ata, Wangwe, National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya and his Senate counterpart Samuel Poghisio came in and the task ahead, they have a difficult time.
“Their ability is at test. They have to be seen to succeed in advancing the President’s agenda in parliament.
They also have to succeed in balancing between the saboteurs and Uhuru’s support to ensure the country moves forward, Kimunya or Poghisio. It is a difficult task,” Mugo said yesterday.
According to Mugo, given the fact that Ruto’s allies, who technically are supposed to be working in favour of the president are working at cross purposes, prefecting them would not be easy for the new team that has been accused of forcing things.
There is near consensus, even from the DP allies who are victims of the new team’s onslaught, that they have a huge burden on them and have to be executed regardless of the consequences it may have on them personally or politically.
‘They were put there to do dictatorship. Before getting the jobs, they are explained what the assignment is and it must be achieved.
They have a huge burden on them and that is when Kang’ata after being pushed, he always says that it not about but about the party position which must be achieved,” Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri said, adding that it is not easy to execute some of the operations they have been undertaking.
Kang’ata, who is listed among the toughest Uhuru’s supporters acknowledged that his work has put him on a collision path with some colleagues, but says they ought to understand since he has a mandate to deliver; ensuring the government’s agenda carries the day.
“Work has to be done and ensure government business passes. Government is a corporate entity with perpetual succession.
Government business has been conducted in some impersonal manner with a realisation others will come and assume these positions later on once we leave office.
Our duty is to do the best and make it easier for those that will replace us,” the Murang’a Senator said.
He added: “I am aware colleagues see things that way also and don’t take anything personal. Those colleagues remain my friends.
It is only what is to be done. And for a good reason; ensure the agenda of his Excellency is achieved without bickering. Politics is always on a flux hence one should not personalise political contests”.
Contacted, Wangwe did not respond to the question despite receiving our phone calls.
Senator Poghisio also finds himself in an awkward position having to argue a case that could antagonise him with colleagues from marginalised counties including in his West Pokot backyard, which are set to lose cash under the proposed formula he has been instructed by Uhuru to push through.
Senators drawn from less-populated counties have protested the new proposed formula for revenue allocation among counties saying the proposed mechanism will disenfranchise and further marginalise their areas leading to the delay of its passage.
Kimunya and Wangwe who replaced his neighbour, Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali, at the whip, and have been effecting changes in the House committee leadership where their colleagues allied to DP have been replaced.
But former Kajiado County Senator Peter Mositet also agrees that the new House leadership team was shouldering a huge burden because they have to push through the agenda of the party amidst a group of indiscipline members who are fighting the president.
“It’s a huge burden they are carrying. For instance, if you look at the war over the revenue sharing formula, the whip has to push people to use their common sense in order to pass it because population is key in revenue sharing.
Uhuru has told senators to go this way but some are still being stubborn. They need to listen to the pasty position. Your thinking comes second,” Mositet.
The former lawmaker added: “Kang’ata is trying to restore sanity in the party so that leaders can know that they were sponsored by a party and therefore should respect it and its leadership.
We have Whips so that the party of government can use them to dictate what it wants but when there is indiscipline, it’s a task”.