The war of words that threatens to bring down Jubilee Party continued unabated Tuesday as leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto intensified their attacks on President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The leaders said the war on corruption is aimed at derailing the construction of mega projects in the Rift Valley and stifling Dr Ruto’s presidential ambition.
Nandi Governor Stephen Sang and MPs Oscar Sudi (Kapseret) and Caleb Kositany (Soy) — without backing their claims with any evidence — said the anti-corruption fight was no longer objective but had been weaponised to deny some regions major development projects.
Speaking at Ziwa in Soy constituency, Uasin Gishu County, during the burial of Mzee Abraham Tirop Barsiari, Mr Sudi said the handshake between the President and ODM leader Raila Odinga was the source of wrangles in the ruling party, and was aimed at scuttling Dr Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid by sabotaging big projects in his backyard.
“We want to remind the President that Rift Valley voted for him overwhelmingly, more than any other region. Why has he sidelined us?” said Mr Sudi.
As they were speaking in Uasin Gishu, Mr Odinga told them off, saying: “The handshake was not meant to bring down the Jubilee Party. Raila will continue donning the ODM jersey, while President Kenyatta will wear his Jubilee colours,” he said at Toi Market in Nairobi.
He further warned Ruto’s allies that “the war on corruption will be intensified no doubt. But I also want to caution that we should also not bring in the issue of tribes in this war. If an individual is corrupt, he or she should carry his own cross and not claim their tribesmen are being targeted,” he said.
“If you are not guilty, then why should you be worried? Let the agencies whose mandate is to investigate and prosecute those implicated in corruption do their work,” he added.
Mr Sudi and Mr Sang spoke in the wake of a mega scam linked to the construction of Arror and Kimwarer dams in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti is leading investigations into how Sh21 billion allocated to the two projects was used.
The move came after it emerged that nothing had been done on the ground yet billions had been spent since 2017.
“We want to categorically tell the President that we don’t want anything for free; we want our rightful share. Our people cannot be poor yet we are in government,” added Mr Sudi.
The Kapseret MP recently had a run-in with the President over claims that the Head of State and Mr Odinga should also be investigated for corruption.
The President told him off last week, saying ranting at “funerals” would not help him. He asked the MP to present those claims at the DCI offices near Karura Forest in Nairobi.
Dr Ruto has already questioned the way investigations are being done, saying they should not target predetermined projects or individuals.
On Tuesday, Mr Sudi — while attending yet another funeral ceremony — was not relenting, asking the President to say if they had done him any wrong so they could apologise.
He said the ongoing war on corruption had been politicised and was aimed at kicking out people allied to the Deputy President from plum government jobs.
“Mr President, if you have an issue with your DP, why don’t you call us as Jubilee leaders and we talk,” said Mr Sudi.
Governor Sang, who has also criticised the war on graft, said the fight was meant to intimidate leaders allied to the DP.
“The DCI is no longer independent. He is being used as an errand boy to wage political wars,” said Mr Sang. The leaders also took issue with the handshake, saying it was the cause of all the troubles facing the ruling party.
The governor said Mr Odinga has a history of deceit, and cautioned the President against trusting the ODM leader too much.
“You are now working with somebody who performed a treasonous act. Mr President, why are you putting us in this awkward position?” posed Mr Sang, referring to the mock swearing-in of Mr Odinga as ‘the people’s president’ in January last year.
He said some forces that seemed to be afraid of Dr Ruto’s presidency are working day and night to ensure he does not rise to the country’s top seat.
“Ruto is the son of God and Kenyans. The son of a peasant should be President. If you don’t want to implement development projects in the region, we will do them in 2022 when our time comes,” said Mr Sang.
Mr Sudi told off those accusing the DP over the maize crisis, adding that many reforms being enjoyed by farmers were initiated by Dr Ruto when he served as the Agriculture minister during the Grand Coalition government.
“The DP is not the President so as to personally take charge and address the farmers’ plight. To be sincere, the fertiliser crisis has been created to paint the DP as having failed in his backyard,” Mr Sudi said.
Some of the rebels from the DP’s backyard — MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi), Sila Tiren (Moiben) and Joshua Kuttuny (Cherangany) — were on Tursday on the receiving end for “being used to undermine the DP politically”.
The trio have spoken strongly against claims that the graft war is targeting the DP’s allies, saying all those who have stolen public money must face the law.
On Monday, Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos dismissed those opposed to DCI investigations, saying all investigative institutions should be allowed to do their work unhindered.
Ruto’s allies also opposed calls for a referendum, claiming it is a ploy to create political positions for some leaders.
“The country’s economy cannot sustain a referendum. We are grappling with a lot of other pressing issues, including lack of fertiliser for farmers,” said Mr Sudi.
Mr Kositany said Mr Kenyatta had changed tremendously since he entered into a political truce with Mr Odinga.
“We had a very humble Uhuru, but today we have a very temperamental president. We don’t know what happened after the handshake. What spell has been cast on you?” Mr Kositany posed.
“Your legacy is with the people who voted for you. We believed in you when other people were calling you names, why abandon us now?”
He urged the President to convene an urgent Jubilee parliamentary group meeting to iron out thorny issues in the party.
Political power play disrupted as teams formed to lead pandemic war
As the coronavirus crisis deepens, President Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have used the opportunity to solidify the workings of the administrative state — having liquefied the political state for the last one year.
A look at who is who in the newly-formed National Co-ordination Committee on the Coronavirus Pandemic is an indicator of the people that the President hopes to rely on as the country goes through one of the worst health crisis in recent history.
With most of the politicians cut from the war against coronavirus, it is the government administration structure that has taken over, with regional commissioners being in charge at the county levels.
Internal documents indicate that President Kenyatta has given Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i powers to appoint several ad-hoc committees, which are working behind the scenes to contain the crisis.
Before the coronavirus gust disrupted the political stage and threw the politicos off-balance, Dr Matiang’i had become the dominant face of the administrative state — thanks to his position as the Interior CS and as the chairperson of the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee, whose mandate is to supervise the execution of government programmes.
Dr Matiang’i now has the mandate to chair the co-ordination committee on coronavirus. Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Treasury’s Ukur Yatani, Monica Juma (Defence), Peter Munya (Agriculture) and Joseph Mucheru (ICT and Youth Affairs) sit on the committee.
Others in this committee include Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Samson Mwathethe and National Intelligence Service Director General Major-General Philip Kameru.
Also sitting in the committee is Council of Governor Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.
On Monday while making the decision by the National Security Council on strict movement into and within Nairobi, Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa, it was apparent that Deputy President William Ruto, who ought to be a member of the council, was missing in action. He has not been included in any of the committees.
Again, the media briefings have been left to Mr Mutahi Kagwe, who is less confrontational with reporters and displays better command and control of the meetings.
At times, Mr Kagwe has been delegating the duty to the Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi with technical support from Dr Patrick Amoth, the director-general of Health.
Previously, the President had appointed a National Emergency Response Committee chaired by Mr Kagwe. It has now been expanded and in the new arrangement, Education CS George Magoha, a medical doctor, will now be sitting in this committee together with principal secretaries Belio Kipsang and Simon Wabukwesi.
Also brought in is Lt Gen Robert Kibochi, the vice-chief of the Defence Forces and Kang’ethe Thuku, the Principal Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Interior.
The inclusion of the military in the arrangement means that the coronavirus pandemic is turning to be a national emergency.
Also established is the National Economic and Business Response working group, which is mobilising resources and conducting household impact assessment. Already, chiefs have been mobilised in various counties to list down the vulnerable members, with fear that the pandemic will take its toll on the poor and the elderly.
The economic team is chaired by National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani and has among its members Industrialisation CS Betty Maina, Adan Mohammed East African Community), Najib Balala (Tourism) and Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge.
The President seemed to indicate that the war on corruption would go hand in hand with the fight against the coronavirus by instructing Treasury to allocate the Sh2 billion recovered by the Asset Recovery to the vulnerable within the community.
“Our fight in this area continues,” said the President.
Besides disrupting the political power play, the pandemic will also leave a major gap in the coffers and might mean that President Kenyatta’s Big Four legacy will be in trouble.
Covid-19: Boris Johnson taken to intensive care
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been taken into intensive care in hospital with coronavirus after his condition worsened, according reports by the UK media.
Mr Johnson had been admitted to hospital for further tests Sunday evening, 10 days after testing positive for coronavirus.
Mr Johnson on March 27 said he was experiencing mild symptoms of the virus and had to self-isolate. “I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus,” he said via Twitter.
Queen Elizabeth on Monday thanked frontline workers in their efforts against the pandemic. “We will succeed. We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again,” she told the nation.
The UK’s death toll has increased to 4,934, as worldwide cases jump to 1,266,782 – 69,177 people have died and 261,132 have recovered.
Parliamentary sittings put off after Uhuru’s movement order
Sittings of the National Assembly and the Senate which had been scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday have been postponed indefinitely, Speakers Justin Muturi and Ken Lusaka have announced.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the Speakers said the move was as a result of a directive announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta banning movement in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Civid-19) pandemic.
Kenya has so far recorded a total of 158 coronavirus cases with 82 per cent of them being reported in Nairobi and another 14 per cent in the counties of Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa.
It is for this reason that the President announced the cessation of all movement by road, rail or air in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan area and the three Coast counties.
This has in turn affected the sitting of the Senate scheduled for Tuesday April 7 and that of the National Assembly scheduled for Wednesday.
“In the circumstances, it has therefore become necessary to inform you that it will not be possible to hold the Sittings of the Houses of Parliament as scheduled, until further notice.
“The leadership of the two Houses is consulting and shall advise on the means by which urgent business that is before the Houses of Parliament shall be transacted remotely and members shall shortly be advised on this,” the Speakers said in their statement.
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