Jubilee Members of Parliament meet as a group for the first time since the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017 this Friday, in what is seen as a bid to calm a restless party weighed down by Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process, looming elections and succession politics.
The meeting called by Secretary-General Raphael Tuju has been dubbed a consultative one since the party leader, President Kenyatta, will not be chairing it.
It will be the first time the members of the two factions, Tangatanga and Kieleweke, will be under the same roof since they emerged after the 2017 elections.
And they are supposed to take a common position on various issues bedevilling the party. Tangatanga are fervent supporters of Deputy President William Ruto and his presidential ambitions, but Kieleweke the side does not want to him to ascend to the highest office in the land.
Sources indicated that the meeting was agreed on by the president and his deputy on Monday last week ahead of Mr Kenyatta’s scheduled trip to Washington, DC in the US.
FINDING COMMON GROUND
This was a second meeting in under two weeks the two leaders had held exclusive of their aides.
The president and the DP had spent the entire afternoon in a closed-door meeting, where it was agreed that MPs should be called to order ahead of parliament resuming its sittings this week.
After that meeting, Mr Tuju was informed by the president to call the meeting and schedule it for last Friday.
Indeed, according to Mr Tuju’s statement on Friday evening, the meeting was to be held last Friday but it was pushed to this week after the death of former president Daniel Toroitich arap Moi early Tuesday.
“The consultative meeting will not be technically a Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting, because it will not be chaired by the party leader, but it will be an occasion to have a discourse with members and to give an update on various issues of interest and concern in the party,” read the statement released by Mr Tuju.
AGENDA NOT SET
On Saturday, Mr Tuju said the meeting will be chaired by an individual who will be appointed by the party leadership.
“Well, all MPs are not only expected to attend but in fact they are required to be present. On who will chair the meeting, it will be decided by the party leadership,” he said.
He added that the agenda is yet to be concluded since he was still consulting. Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen said he was not sure whether the deputy president will attend the meeting or who would chair it.
“Perhaps it’s Mr Tuju who will chair. I am not aware of the contents of the agenda, but I largely expect something in the line of executive expectations of us in the coming year. I also expect the Big 4 Agenda and our contributions as parliament on the BBI agenda. That is to mean, whether we should expect to make any new laws or amend the Constitution,” he said.
Several MPs, who declined to be named, said some of the issues they expect the long overdue meeting to tackle include party position on BBI process, BBI rallies, internal elections, which ought to be held next month, Jubilee development agenda and succession politics.
Jubilee has been playing catch-up in the ensuing BBI rallies, and it is understood this was one of the reasons the meeting was called, so that members can air their views.
What was initially a unifying process has of late degenerated to a partisan process, with Dr Ruto terming the ongoing rallies as Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) campaign platforms.
And as a strategy to counter the rallies attended by Mr Raila Odinga - the ODM leader, Tangatanga wing has gone ahead and announced their rallies starting with one that was to be held Saturday in Nakuru but was called off after the death of Moi.
The Monday meeting between the president and his deputy was seen as a move to diffuse the degenerating process, especially after the Mombasa rally, where Coast leaders gave memorandum containing radical proposals.
In a resolution read by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, Coast leaders proposed the establishment of a federal system of government while retaining the 47 county governments.
They proposed that funding allocated to the regional and county governments should take up 70 per cent of the national government revenue.
The region called for the creation of a prime minister post with two deputies. Speakers at the rally also touched on the emotive land issue.
It was followed by the chaotic rally in Kitui, where a pattern seemed to emerge where it was seen as if opposition has already taken a position on land matters, three-tier government and prime minister post.
Even as this happened, there seemed to be a change of tact after Cabinet secretaries who had attended the Kisii rally were withdrawn by the president in subsequent meetings in Kakamega, Mombasa and Kitui.
All this came as Jubilee had no unified position on matters that can be presented to BBI, with Kieleweke members siding with ODM and Tangatanga side trying to play catch-up.
“The president was concerned that Mr Odinga was even receiving memorandums from various regions and they were not being presented to him. He wants an exit strategy from these rallies. The Jubilee rally that was to be in Nakuru and the ones Mr Odinga has been attending gave a pattern of division, which the president was keen to arrest. The President is said to have asked Tangatanga to drop their BBI rallies, arguing they are divisive and against purpose of uniting Kenya,” said a source.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria said that he expects that the party will have a position on the BBI process.
“ODM already wants a parliamentary system and a three-tier government. We will need a common position. Well, we as a party may not necessary agree because of regional interests inside Jubilee, but it’s important that the common position will define how the process pans out. The partisan rallies should also stop, such that there is a joint secretariat that will be ensure there is a list of agreed speakers,” he said.
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said the party ought to come up with a common stand on BBI.
“When you hear members of the same party speak at cross-purpose on the same issue, then there is need to close ranks and find a common position. That is what we will deal with at the kamukunji. Hopefully, we will also get to know when a PG will be held,” he said.
But even as the consultative meeting will discuss the BBI process, the other elephant in the room is party elections.
Up to now, the National Executive Council, which would give direction on the issue, is yet to sit. NEC, just like the PG, is chaired by President Kenyatta.
The elections, if held, will play a pivotal role on whether the party will approach the 2022 elections as united or it will disintegrate.
The elections will see new faces at the helm and deputy president’s men have been gearing up to contest various seats.
There has been a lukewarm support from the Kieleweke side and this matter is, therefore, expected to generate interest at the consultative meeting.
In the same breath, MPs will be expecting to be appraised on the executive’s legislative agenda this year.