Jubilee Party SG Tuju caught up in Jubilee w*rs over March poll

Monday, January 6th, 2020 00:00 | By
Deputy President William Ruto’s allies are fronting National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali for Jubilee Party chair. Photo/PD/FILE

Jubilee Party, the political juggernaut that was a special purpose election vehicle for President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in the 2017 poll, is headed for tough times — and even existential reckoning ahead of its March elections.

Secretary-General Raphael Tuju has been caught up in the cross hairs in the battle for the soul of the party largely revolving around the 2022 succession politics, with Ruto allies vowing to oust him for being used to “ belittle and fight” their man. 

Daggers are already drawn with two factions—Kieleweke which backs the President’s agenda and Handshake with Opposition supremo Raila Odinga and the Tanga Tanga, which is rooting for Ruto’s 2022 State House bid as per the “Jubilee manifesto”.

The quest by Ruto and his allies to wrest control of the governing party, by among other things replacing Tuju with individuals supportive of the DP’s ambitions, is said to be the main reason behind the push for the party elections.

Tuju has in the past made statements which have been interpreted as belittling the DP, who is his boss.

The People Daily has established that Ruto allies, who have been uncomfortable with the party secretary general, are fronting National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali, a staunch supporter of the DP for the position of the party chairman.

Yesterday, the Mumias East MP confirmed that he had offered himself for the position of Chairman currently held by little-known Nelson Dzuya “because he wants to take control of the party”.

“I am running for the position of the chairman so that I can take full control of the running of the party.

I want to be running things in the party, including making all decisions to be taken by the party. We have been very unhappy with how our party is being led,” he said. 

On the other hand, Kieleweke has vowed to thwart a scheme by their Tanga Tanga rivals to populate the party with the DP’s men and women during the polls slated for March.

Tuju, a Cabinet Secretary without a portfolio, is seen to be allied to President Uhuru’s side.  He has already indicated that he will defend his seat during the elections.

Kimilili lawmaker Didmus Barasa, a member of the Tanga Tanga faction, said they were not only keen to ensure that Tuju is removed from the party, but also locked from participating in the elections.

He accused Tuju of being an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) mole in the party, adding that they are shopping for an independent body to preside over the elections at the county and national levels.

Fight graft

“We will kick him (Tuju) out of the party and also block anyone who is opposed to Ruto succeeding the President from holding any influential position in the party.

The Jubilee party manifesto is that Uhuru will lead for 10 years and Ruto 10 and anyone who is against that has no business being in the party,” said the MP.

He added: “He has been working with (Opposition leader) Raila Odinga  and ODM and what we are gathering is that he is planning to vie for the governorship of Siaya and therefore the best thing is to release him early so that he can join his party of choice,” claimed Barasa.

But Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange, a key supporter of the President, yesterday said the Jubilee Party will not accept to lose Tuju, who he described as a professional loyal to the party and its manifesto.

 “Those people who are talking about removing Tuju from the party are championing tumbocracy (politics of the stomach) by opposing implementation of the manifesto, which includes unity and the fight against graft,” he said.

The MP, who is the chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Security, said those uncomfortable with Tuju should quit the party and form their own outfit “so that Jubilee can proceed in implementing its manifesto.”

Tuju, a former Raila critic, enjoys a warm relationship with the ODM leader following their March 9, 2018 Handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta that could give him a political lifeline in his Siaya backyard.

The Jubilee spokesperson has vowed to face his challengers, saying: “Anybody seeking to challenge me in the post is welcome,” he said.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, another supporter of the DP said it was high time Tuju was shown the door, accusing him of disrespecting Ruto.

“Tuju has been meeting with Raila (Odinga) in funerals and the statements which he has been making are of very bad taste against the DP. Come elections, we shall ensure that we fix things in the party,” he said.

Ngunjiri accused Tuju of failure to ensure discipline by punishing MPs who go against party ideologies such as nominated MP Maina Kamanda who campaigned for ODM candidate Imran Okoth in the Kibra by-election last year though Jubilee had fielded a candidate.

Ruto hopes to use the party as his vehicle in the 2022 presidential election and therefore wants to have it under his grip.

The DP’s determination to take control of the 2017 UhuRuto election vehicle was summed up by Soy MP Caleb Kositany, who said some of the DP’s allies are kin to execute a coup within the party.

Washiali buttressed the DP camp’s thinking saying: “If there is anyone who has a formula (to come up with a line-up) to ensure that we get people (party officials) who we can work well with in the party, I don’t mind it,” he said.

Former Jubilee Party vice chairman David Murathe, who resigned last year after saying Ruto is an unsuitable candidate, is on recorded alleging a hostile takeover by DP of positions in the party by ousting people who they feel are not allied to them.

Former Kitutu Masaba MP and ODM national treasurer Timothy Bosire said it was just about time the wrangles within the Jubilee Party spilled out in public, saying the DP is now trying all means to create a smooth path for 2022.

Push narrative

“The wrangles are normal especially when there is a game of personal interests on the table like it’s the case within Jubilee. The DP and his people see Tuju as an obstruction to his 2022 bid and it is, therefore, obvious he would want to replace him with him people who will dance to his tune,” he said.

DP allies led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, Senators Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) and Samson Cherargei (Nandi), have been pushing for Tuju’s ouster, accusing him of among other things, disrespecting Ruto.

The former Rarieda MP has caused a storm over his declaration that corrupt people will not be allowed to contest for the party leadership positions, a sentiment which some felt was targeting the Deputy President’s people.

“Recently he (Tuju) said that corrupt people should not be allowed to get party posts, that is not his work,” the MP said.

The Kieleweke team which is led by Kamanda has been pushing a narrative that the DP and some of his allies are corrupt people, who should not be allowed in any leadership positions.  

Months after, while speaking in Ngewa, Kiambu county, Murathe, a close ally of the President, and who seemed to have forged a political union with Tuju, said the Head of State will not leave the country in the hands of tainted people.

Before the storm in the party settled, an audio was leaked of a phone conversation between Tuju and former Limuru MP George Nyanja talking negatively of the DP over the Kiambaa Church which was an ugly spot during the 2007/08 poll chaos.

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