Heads to roll in House as President Uhuru purges DP allies
Eric Wainaina and Hillary Mageka
The political future of three nominated senators who skipped a Senate Parliamentary Group meeting called by President Uhuru Kenyatta hangs in the balance after it emerged that the Jubilee Party had resolved to expel them for defying the party leader.
Though the newly-constituted National Management Committee has not officially communicated the decision to kick out Millicent Omanga, Falhada Iman and Victor Prengei to the National Executive Committee for ratification, it is understood that their fate has already been sealed.
The three, who are allied to Deputy President William Ruto, failed to attend the meeting held at State House and chaired by President Kenyatta last week.
The meeting ratified the removal of Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Nakuru counterpart Susan Kihika, as Leader of Majority and Majority Whip, respectively.
News of the tough party action came even as guns were trained on the National Assembly where the ruling Jubilee is set to effect radical changes that would see Leader of Majority Aden Duale and Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali as well as chairs of key committees kicked out in a ruthless purge targeting Ruto’s allies.
Washiali is set to be replaced Navakholo MP Emanuel Wangwe while Duale’s and Deputy Whip Cecilly Mbarire’s successors are being sought.
The decision, which will see Ruto’s critics in his Rift Valley backyard rewarded with positions, is reported to have been arrived at after a high-level meeting of Jubilee House leaders, which was hosted by Uhuru at State House, yesterday.
Senator Omanga, who at the height of the escalation of the war between the President’s allies and those of the DP stopped short of daring Uhuru to a duel, has been accused of giving a “rude response” to the party through a letter in which she said she had not been invited to the meeting.
Last evening, Omanga said she was not aware of the party decision, saying it was yet to respond to her letter “in which I indicated to them that I did not get any invitation”.
Senators Iman and Prengei are being punished for refusing to respond to the “show cause” letters which were distributed to them by newly-elected Majority Chief Whip, Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata.
While Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju did not confirm or deny whether the trio will be removed, sources privy to the happenings said the move to kick them out is to serve as a lesson to others with the same mindset.
“Unlike the other three senators (Mary Seneta Yiane, Naomi Jillo and Christine Zawadi) who have been spared after they gave convincing reasons why they skipped the meeting and have been remorseful for their past actions, Omanga and company have failed to respect the party and its leadership (Uhuru) even further contravening the party positions on key national issues. They have not been remorseful and that is the action that has been taken,” the source said.
Tuju said that whereas the three could either be fined or removed from committees, the party is prosecuting them for removal because it considers their actions an act of disrespect to the President.
“Our ultimate desire is to have them expelled and we cannot overturn the design of the disciplinary committee.
We consider their decision not to attend a meeting as the ultimate disrespect to the party leader,” said Tuju, a key player in the purge.
Zawadi, in her response that has saved her, told Kan’gata that the reason for her non-attendance was the transport and logistical barriers that have been erected by the government to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I confirm that I did not physically attend the Jubilee coalition Senate Parliamentary Group meeting held on May 11 at State House, Nairobi,” the Senator wrote.
Seneta, a former Kajiado Woman Representative, on Sunday in a letter to Kan’gata also pledged loyalty to the President, saying she skipped the meeting due to illness.
In the National Assembly, other notable casualties include Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, who is to be replaced by Limuru MP Peter Mwathi at the chair of the Budget Committee, Baringo North’s William Cheptumo (Justice and Legal Affairs) will lose his seat to Tiaty counterpart William Kamket of Kanu, while Bura MP Ali Wario will be stripped of the Labour committee chairmanship which will be given to Nandi Hills representative Alfred Keter.
Agriculture’s Adan Haji (Mandera South) is set to be replaced by Moiben’s Silas Teren, Education’s Julius Melly (Tinderet) will see his position taken over by Gladwel Cheruiyot (Baringo Woman Rep), Moses Kuria will be removed from the Budget and Transport committees, David Pkosing and Uasin Gishu Woman Rep Gladys Shollei will lose their leadership of the Transport and Delegated Legislation committees, respectively.
At the Senate, Nandi’s Samson Cherargei, who was accused of betraying the DP will be spared in the Justice committee while Mandera’s Mohammed Maalim who chairs the Finance committee will be replaced by his deputy Isaac Mwaura (Nominated), while Meru’s Mithika Linturi and Omanga will be kicked out from all the committees they sit in.