President Uhuru Kenyatta flies back into the country today, straight into a political storm threatening to bring down his Jubilee house whose mantra of ‘Tuko Pamoja’ has been turned upside down.
Uhuru returns from a five-day visit to Paris, France, to a politically charged city where his deputy William Ruto (pictured) has been declared persona non grata at the ruling party headquarters.
While delivering the verdict on the steps of Jubilee Party’s headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi, on Friday, party Secretary General Raphael Tuju, said the National Management Committee (NMC) had also resolved to have Ruto stripped off his position as deputy party leader.
The matter now awaits a verdict of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which is chaired by the president, to ratify or reject the decision by NMC.
But speaking in Bahati, Nakuru County, yesterday, Ruto criticised the Jubilee Party leadership opposed to his plan to succeed Uhuru, adding that he would not be cowed by anyone.
He said plans to block his access to the party headquarters and removal as deputy party leader would flop.
“They have declared they will deny us access to the party headquarters. They will not succeed or distract my focus. We have initiated a conversation that will be difficult and uncomfortable but they will have no choice. They will watch as we form a hustler’s government,” said Ruto.
Sources indicate a NEC meeting has already been scheduled for this week to deliberate on the conduct of the deputy president.
This even as Ruto allies said any attempts to fire him as a party official would first have to see him impeached as a deputy president, citing sections of the party’s constitution.
Tuju made the announcement on Ruto a day after the DP met about 30 MPs at the party headquarters in what was described by his critics as an attempted power grab in the absence of the party leader.
All eyes are now on Uhuru for the next course of action, even as sources say invites for the NEC meeting were already being drafted and it could take place before the end of the week.
“We will send out the invites. The DP will be invited for the meeting, including Deputy Secretary General Caleb Kositany,” said an official aware of the plans. Jubilee Party Vice Chairman David Murathe was however non-committal on whether the meeting will take place this week.
“We are waiting for directions from the party leader. If he invites us for a NEC meeting, we will be there early,” said Murathe.
Ruto’s allies are now baying for Tuju’s blood, calling for his resignation for disrespecting his party boss, and allegedly jumping the gun through his pronouncements on Friday.
“Since when does a visit to party headquarters by the deputy party leader become disrespectful to the party leader? Bootlicking is real. Those misusing Tuju, God in heaven is watching,” said Kositany.
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said everything was okay from 2013 but things changed in 2017.
“Raphael Tuju is innocent, he is just a puppet being used to read a speech prepared by his boss. Stop blaming him,” he said.
The Ruto brigade is not taking lightly the decision to banish the DP from the party’s headquarters and have vowed to be there today.
Tuju directed that Ruto and his allies will only visit the headquarters by notice and with reasons.
The leaders cite various articles of the party constitution on the roles of the deputy party leader, NEC, NMC, the National Disciplinary Committee and the National Delegates Convention (NDC).
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen yesterday triggered the debate about the process of removing Ruto from his position in the party hierarchy, arguing that as long as he is still the deputy president, he will remain the deputy party leader.
“No person or organ can change that unless the Constitution is amended or we conduct national elections,” said Murkomen.
Parallel political outfit
According to the Constitution, a party member shall cease to be a member if he or she accepts an office or promotes the activities of any other political party, contravenes the party’s constitution or the code of conduct or has had his or her membership terminated upon a disciplinary procedure.
The NMC on Friday cited Ruto’s decision to run a parallel political outfit, Jubilee Asili, as the basis for recommending he be stripped off his party position.
“The headquarters is a public office paid for with public money. If it is not open to the deputy party leader or members of the Party’s Parliamentary Group to visit, how much more for Kenyans? Let Tuju do the honourable thing and resign if he can’t work with his boss or MPs,” said Murkomen.
The legislator said there is nothing in the 14 functions of NEC as outlined in Article 7(2) of the party’s constitution that includes a mandate to remove or elect party officials and it has never been constituted or convened since March 2017.
Article 7(2) of Jubilee constitution states, “The NDC is the supreme organ of the Party, which has powers to elect from among the eligible members of the Party, the national officials of the party in accordance with this Constitution.”
Murkomen said NMC is merely the handmaid of NEC and cannot recommend to it what is beyond its mandate.
“Since NEC has no mandate to appoint or remove officials, NMC has no mandate to entertain or recommend the same. The constitution provides for a very elaborate party disciplinary mechanism,” he said.
He said neither the NMC nor NEC has any disciplinary role or can purport to remove or recommend removal of any official of the party, let alone its deputy party leader.
No elected officials
Articles 33(2) of the party constitution states, “The president of the republic of Kenya shall be the Party leader and the DP shall be the Deputy Party leader.”
Therefore, Murkomen argues that the party leader and deputy under the Jubilee constitution hold their positions by virtue of their respective offices as president and DP.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu, however said the ruling party has no elected officials, saying those serving currently are holding the positions at the pleasure of the president.
Wambugu, a fierce critic of Ruto, said they will not hesitate to initiate an impeachment motion against the DP if he continues with his “political arrogance and bravado”.
“This arrogance and hubris that nothing can happen to him must come to an end because we can also impeach him as the deputy party leader,” said Wambugu.
“There are no elected party officials. All of them were appointed. He cannot claim he is an elected party official. The appointing authority is the party leader. The DP can be suspended the same way some members of the National Management Committee were kicked out.”
He said even Murkomen had argued he could not be removed from Senate leadership.
“There is nothing that is written that cannot be changed. The same Murkomen told us that we could not remove him as the Senate majority leader, where is he now?” said Wambugu.
Albert Nyaundi, the chairman of the Jubilee Advisory Council, a body bringing together officials of the 12 political parties that folded to form Jubilee, yesterday said the DP can be replaced by any member from the council.
“The DP is suffering from acute superiority complex. He needs to be reminded that he came into the Jubilee conglomerate with his URP, which was one of 12 parties,” said Nyaundi.
“URP cannot ride roughshod on the other 11 member parties. If he feels that the conglomerate is not being run to his satisfaction, he can walk out and leave the other parties in peace.”
Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika also took a swipe at Tuju. “When I come to Jubilee headquarters, you (Tuju) have no moral authority to stop me. We shall be working from there against your wish. If you don’t want us there tell us to stop making membership contributions,” she said.
[Additional Reporting by Kennedy Gachuhi]
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