National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale scrapped through Jubilee purge on the day President Uhuru Kenyatta dressed down Deputy President William Ruto and allies at a State House party meet.
Still, some political blood had to be spilled. One of Ruto’s ardent supporters in Western, Benjamin Washiali, was stripped off his Majority Whip position and replaced with Navakholo lawmaker Emmanual Wangwe. His Deputy Cecily Mbarire, also an avowed Tanga Tanga enthusiast, was replaced by Maoka Maore.
Duale, alongside his deputy Jimmy Angwenyi were retained as were Speaker Justin Muturi and his deputy Moses Cheboi. Amos Kimunya was appointed Secretary of the Jubilee Coalition Joint Parliamentary Group.
“If you don’t respect me, why don’t you at the very least just respect the office I occupy. You have called me all sorts of names, but at least give honour to my office,” the President is said to have told the MPs.
Unlike the Senate parliamentary group where 25 senators allied to Ruto boycotted, all MPs, including the DP, were seated and mute by 8am. None missed the SMS invitation. And none was allowed to react to the presidential admonitions.
The PG started with a prayer by Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko before party Secretary General Raphael Tuju spoke for three minutes and invited the Deputy President. For all his bravery in leading the boycott of the initial Senate meet, the DP spoke for only four minutes.
He said all the party’s troops were fully behind the command and leadership of President Kenyatta, contrary to the impressions out there.
“We thank your Excellency for inviting us to this meeting, we have been looking forward to. As the party leader, kindly give us guidance,” Ruto wound up his brief as he invited the President.
But when Kenyatta took to the lectern, he began by taking the MPs through a three dimensional journey of where they have come from, where they are and where they are headed, as a party.
An MP from South Rift who sought anonymity said after the meeting, MPs left without talking with each other.
“I have never seen Uhuru talking like that. That was a real dress down. I can’t even talk like that to my houseboy, we were really reprimanded,” said the MP allied to Tanga Tanga.
The lawmaker said the President told them he had full benefit of intelligence on all the scheming and name-calling they had visited on him.
“I still have two years, just respect me for the remaining period. You talk badly about me and you think I don’t hear? I have intelligence and get all that,” an angry President is said to have told them.
Uhuru, according to another MP, said he would keep his word of serving his 10 years, and supporting a Jubilee candidate for another 10 years. He, however, did not say if the pact for the 20 years would be with Ruto as the candidate.
“Jubilee agenda is not going to be completed in 10 years, and as I said, I will keep my word and ensure we have another 10 years to complete the railways, Lamu port and other key infrastructure projects that I will not have completed in the remaining two years,” the President told the MPs, according to insiders.
Attempts by MPs to raise their hands and address the meeting were blocked with the President dismissing them immediately he ended his address.
“He told us to leave immediately he finished, some MPs asked that we have a prayer before but he told them to just leave,” said another MP .
Duale’s post has been the subject of heated debate among insiders at State House, with the group deeply divided on whether he should be retained or shown the door.
Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe was among those who called for the Garissa Town MP’s retention, insisting that his seven-year term had been successful.
Murathe said Duale, though a Ruto ally, had helped the President push for the government agenda in a way that was impressive.
Before yesterday’s meeting, there had been intense lobbying by MPs to have either Kimunya or Kieni MP Kanini Kega as the Majority leader. The name of Eldas MP Adan Keynan had also been floated with those lobbying for him saying that it would placate the Somali community if Duale was removed.
Three weeks ago, Ruto confidants at the Senate including Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki, Elgeyo Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Nakuru counterpart Susan Kihika were kicked out top positions.
They have since been replaced with Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar (deputy speaker), West Pokot’s Samuel Poghisio (majority leader) and Murang’a’s Irungu Kang’ata as (majority whip).
Also removed from powerful committees were Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, Nandi’s Samson Cherargei and Laikipia’s John Kinyua.
Yesterday, Duale said he has since communicated the new changes to Muturi, thanking the party leadership for showing confidence in their leadership.
The Garissa Township MP played down earlier threats to his position, but said he was ready for any decision that came out of the parliamentary group meeting.
“I don’t freak. I have a long political journey ahead of me. But the truth is everyone among us is capable of holding any position. One thing I have learnt in life is that once you are given a responsibility, you must perform to your best, that is what I always do,” said Duale.
He played down the factional differences witnessed within the Jubilee Party, claiming they did not have room to play out at yesterday meeting.
“When you are called for a PG meeting convened and chaired by the Party Leader, who in our case is the President, discipline is paramount. There is no room for factions, I am sure everyone who attended would agree that today is a good day for Jubilee as a party,” he said.
Duale, who was flanked by his Deputy Jimmy Angwenyi and the incoming Majority Whip Wangwe, played down talk of further changes in the committee leadership, saying if the decision to change anyone would be deemed fit, then it will be duly communicated.
He defended the performance of Washiali and Mbarire who were ousted, maintaining that their removal was in line with traditions and practices of all jurisdictions, whenever a party feels it is necessary to shake up its leadership.
“It happens all over. No position is permanent. Those I was working with in 2013 are not the same that I had. In the same way we had changes after 2017 is the same way that the leadership has felt the need for others now. That is not to say that Washiali and Mbarire were not good enough, they added a lot of value in our party,” he said.
The Standard learned that another PG meeting slated for June 19 will purge the National Assembly committee’s of all Ruto’s allies.
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