The changes in the Jubilee parliamentary leadership will be confirmed today when National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi finally communicates the decision to the House.
With President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy almost wholly dependent on Parliament, his grip on the institution continues to be felt.
Barely hours after reading the riot act to Jubilee lawmakers, the purge continues.
It now targets House committee members who have refused to toe the line and are instead sympathetic to Deputy President William Ruto.
A Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting at State House on Tuesday had National Assembly Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali and his deputy Cecily Mbarire removed.
Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe replaced Mr Washiali while his Igembe North counterpart, Mr Maoka Maore, became his deputy.
Together with Majority Leader Aden Duale, they are expected to ensure the President retires on a high note.
And Mr Wangwe has begun executing the mandate with gusto.
The new majority whip issued letters to 16 MPs allied to Dr Ruto, notifying them of the party’s intention to discharge them from House committees.
The 16 are mainly chairpersons and vice chairpersons of the committees.
The most notable is Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, whose position as chairman of the Budget and Appropriations team now hangs in the balance.
Others are Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who is the vice chairperson of the Transport Committee, Aldai MP Cornelly Serem (vice chairperson, Trade), Bomet Woman Representative Joyce Korir (vice chairperson, Labour) Endebess’s Robert Pukose (vice chairperson, Health) and several others.
Mr Wangwe refused to speak about the changes when contacted, arguing that he is yet to be confirmed by the Speaker as majority whip.
“Talking about these things will be in violation of House rules. Let me get confirmation first then we can speak,” the Navakholo MP said.
With an emasculated Jubilee and a paper opposition, the President is expected to have an easy ride on matters to do with legislation touching on his pet projects.
But the ride will not be that easy, going by the push and pull between lawmakers and the Treasury yesterday on the decision to return Sh10 billion vote taken from the National Government Constituency Development Fund.
Even as a compromise was reached, the heavy hand of the Executive loomed large.
The purge is just a precursor to what is to happen in the House.
Starting with the Sh2.1 trillion budget statement, which will be delivered on Thursday by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, the Sh54 billion economic stimulus package, the Big Four Agenda and the impending referendum, Mr Kenyatta has placed on the legislature a heavy task that will largely define his legacy.
Yet, with just two years remaining on his final term, a Parliament split in the middle and a party in tatters, the President appears to be tempting fate.
Compressing these issues into a very tight time frame appears to be a tall order.
While Mr Wangwe refused to discuss his expectations, his Senate counterpart Irungu Kang’ata said the team will deliver on the President’s campaign pledges. “The new team enjoys the unconditional support of President Kenyata and it will deliver on the mandate bestowed on it,” the Murang’a senator said yesterday.
“For the President to realise his agenda, parliamentary leadership must exhibit loyalty.”
But even as the lawmakers welcomed the changes, there were cautious celebrations, with some not satisfied with the retention of Mr Duale as majority leader.
Mr Duale is loyal to Dr Ruto and his retention left his critics seething with anger. Some even questioned the Jubilee purge.
A number of MPs decided to collect signatures in the hope of having Mr Duale shown the door.
A Jubilee MP who spoke on condition of anonymity said retaining Mr Duale is counterproductive to the President’s vision “since it creates mistrust”.
“For the team to deliver the President’s agenda, Duale must go. There is fear that his retention could trigger infighting. That is why signatures are being collected,” the MP said.
The Nation has learnt that some 100 MPs have already appended their signatures to the petition aimed at having Mr Duale removed.
However, Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu termed the campaign blackmail, saying it can just take seconds if the President wants Mr Duale out.
“Those collecting signatures should stop intimidating colleagues for personal interest,” Mr Wambugu said.
The purpose of the signatures, according to a source, is to show the President that Mr Duale has lost the confidence of the Jubilee alliance.
The collection of signatures is being coordinated by Kieni MP Kanini Kega, who is among those eyeing the majority leader seat.
Others spearheading the drive are Wajir MP Fatuma Gedi, Mr William Kamket (Tiaty) and Mr William Chepkut of Ainabkoi.
While Mr Kang’ata insisted the majority leader must have the command of his troops in the House, Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny said Mr Duale’s retention has caused disquiet in Jubilee.
He, however, added that MPs have confidence in the new team.
“There is new blood which enjoys the confidence of the President,” he said, dismissing claims that the changes are despotic.
“Those talking of dictatorship should wait for their turn as party leaders. They will appreciate the need for discipline.”
Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi said the changes were instituted out of the desire by the Executive to deliver on its promises to voters.
“There must be synergy between the House leadership and the top echelons of the Executive if the President’s agenda is to be realised. Anything else is a disaster,” the MP said.