Tuju: We want Uhuru at helm of Jubilee after 2022

Top Jubilee officials plan to extend President Kenyatta’s tenure as party leader beyond his retirement after 2022, opening a new battlefront with Deputy President William Ruto’s camp.

Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju cited the President’s role in uniting the country for a decision he disclosed had been taken by senior party officials to have him stay on as party leader.

The posts of party leader and deputy party leader held by the DP were not up for grabs had Jubilee polls planned this year taken off — officials cited the Covid-19 pandemic for postponement of the grassroots elections —  but the revelation that one camp wants the President to continue leading Jubilee after the next polls adds a new twist to the power struggle in the ruling party.

It is a revelation that will further inflame the civil war in Jubilee, where the President’s allies have vowed to block the DP from succeeding him and have openly spoken out about frustrating his efforts to vie for the presidency on the party’s ticket.

“I don’t talk for him (President) but I don’t see why he should not continue leading the Jubilee Party after 2022. I want to state that there is consensus, especially from those of us holding senior positions in the party, that it still needs his (Uhuru’s) passion to bring this country together,” Mr Tuju said.

The CS without portfolio said the Head of State has worked hard to build the party and to create harmony in the country in fulfilment of the Jubilee constitution and manifesto, and they feel he should continue to offer the noble services.

Reaching out

“If you look at the first page of our constitution, it states that Jubilee should spearhead the endeavour to bring this country together, make transition from ethnic-based politics to politics of ideas and inclusivity, of reaching out. By him (Uhuru) reaching out,  he is actually implementing a requirement of the constitution of the Jubilee Party,” Mr Tuju said.

He cited the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and his truce with opposition leader Raila Odinga.

“With that kind of passion and vision, we’re very much convinced that he should continue to be party leader in the foreseeable future.”

Jubilee Vice-Chairman David Murathe and the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary-General Francis Atwoli have, in the past, declared that the President will have a role in the next government.

The two have stated that the Head of State is still “too young to retire” but have not indicated the role he would play retiring.

“If we do not amend the Constitution, where do you think Uhuru will go, and he is a young man? We must amend it and fix him somewhere, or he’ll start disturbing those who’ll take over,” Mr Atwoli said in 2018.

President Kenyatta has, however, stated that he is ready to hand over power and retire.

The President and Mr Odinga’s allies have openly spoken about the two running the next government as Prime Minister and Head of State, respectively, if BBI constitutional changes are to be implemented.

But the two leaders have insisted that BBI is not about their power deal, but to end violence following every election.

Jubilee’s constitution designated President Kenyatta and his deputy as party leader and deputy party leader respectively in their capacities as President and DP. But it’s silent on what would happen were Jubilee to win power in 2022 and a new President is elected under the party.

Article 9 of Jubilee constitution gives the party leader sweeping powers to offer leadership, political direction and guidance to the party at all times in the discharge of its mandate; promote political harmony and have overall authority over the other officials and members of the party as well as chair all meetings of the National Delegates Convention and National Governing Council.

He shall also preside over the Party Parliamentary Caucus and promote political consultation, engagement and co-operation with other political parties and coalitions.

Should President Kenyatta remain at the helm, therefore, he will be directly involved in the day-to-day running of the party’s affairs, with far-reaching powers and potential conflicts with the holder of office if a Jubilee member is elected President.

Party leadership

Should Jubilee join other parties and form a coalition, then automatically the Head of State will be part and parcel of the new administration if Jubilee retains him at the top.

While former President Daniel Moi retained control of Kanu after he left office in 2002, President Kenyatta’s predecessor, Mwai Kibaki, left politics and party leadership after the end of his second term in 2013, with his Party of National Unity now struggling for national attention.

But Mr Tuju’s hint that the party leadership had reached a consensus to retain the President at the helm of the party drew sharp reactions from DP Ruto’s allies.

They argued that only party members at the National Delegates Conference can decide to extend a term of any official based on how they have performed.

“That is a decision of the party membership at the NDC, which appoints party leadership. Members will assess how well he (President Kenyatta) has fared in leading the party and make the decision,” Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, an ally of DP Ruto, said.

His Nandi counterpart Samson Cherargei read mischief in the new push by Jubilee leadership to have President Kenyatta continue holding the position after his retirement. “Democracy should not be suppressed in any form. I can assure Jubilee party shall not exist beyond 2022 unless the empty shell.”

Petty dictators

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said they are “used to dictators overstaying beyond their mandate.”

“This is Africa, but I hope our President is not in that league of petty dictators…,” added Mr Nyoro.

His Belgut counterpart Nelson Koech said Jubilee belongs to its members and they are the ones to make that decision to have any official’s term extended.

“Many of us by then anyway might not even be in the party, so they can have it there if he has nothing more useful to do in retirement,” Mr Koech said.

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