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Ruto’s men restless as purge now moves to august House

Sunday June 07 2020
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National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By IBRAHIM ORUKO
By DAVID MWERE

Mr Aden Duale, Mr Ben Washiali and Mr Kimani Ichung'wa are a restless lot.

They face a purge from their prestigious offices in the National Assembly after being accused of disloyalty.

After effecting changes to the Senate leadership, the Jubilee Party’s broom now moves to the National Assembly after reports emerged that the party has tentatively scheduled a parliamentary group meeting for that purpose either on June 2 or 6.

Just like in the Senate, MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto are likely to be the target of the changes, as President Uhuru Kenyatta aims to take effective control of both the party and Parliament.

Among those on the radar of the President’s men are Majority Whip Washiali, his deputy Cecily Mbarire and Kikuyu MP Ichungwa, the chairman of the powerful Budget and Appropriations Committee.

While his name keeps popping up as a possible target, Majority Leader Aden Duale has confounded both friends and foe, forcing analysts to argue that he could survive the purge based on his performance in the House.

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However, with Tharaka-Nithi's Kithure Kindiki being sacked on Friday not on account of performance but party loyalty, the jury is out for the outspoken majority leader who has stood out for his steadfastness in the defence of Jubilee Party and the President.

DICTATORIAL SIGNS

He has lately acquired an uncharacteristic silence, leaving most political observers to argue that he could survive the purge based on his tactical retreat.

On Sunday, Mr Washiali said he had all but made up his mind and was ready for any eventuality should the party decide to crack the whip on him; however, he raised concern on the manner in which the whole process is being carried out.

Mr Washiali, who is also the Mumias East MP, warned that the purge could prove to be an attack on the oversight role of Parliament and maintained that the law should be followed if they have to be removed.

“I will leave happy if I know that the law was followed to the letter,” he said. “I know the die is cast. There is nothing permanent in this world. If my time in this position has come I will gladly take a walk because people come and go,” he said, warning those who are pushing them out that their time will also come.

“I am a Ruto man in and out. I will remain so until he declares publicly that he is not contesting the Presidency. I cannot resist the purge. I can’t resist or fight it. I am ready to go, but how I wish the law was followed in our removal.”

He said the manner the purge is being carried is meant to make the country a single-party state. “The role of Parliament is to oversight the executive. The irony is that it is the executive carrying out the purge. This raises questions on who will oversight the government,” he said.

LIST PREPARED

Besides Prof Kindiki, the purge has seen senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo-Marakwet) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru) sacked as majority leader and majority whip, respectively.

Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kangata on Sunday said the purge will continue this week, although he did not indicate the exact date.

“That is definite,” he replied when asked whether there are plans to reorganise House committees after last week’s changes in the House leadership. “We will definitely do it but it will not be a vindictive exercise.”

Sources within the Senate told Nation that Mr Kangata had already prepared the list of senators who are supposed to take over those committees believed to be occupied by disloyal members.

The Nation has learnt that that list has been taken to President Kenyatta for approval before the changes are effected, anytime this week.

Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli last week called for Mr Duale’s ouster, a signal that the trade unionist was speaking for stronger forces in government.

However, former Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo and University of Nairobi don Herman Manyora supported Mr Duale, saying he has done a good job.

“Though we differed politically, Mr Duale did his job well. To decimate him will be a serious mistake on the part of the Jubilee leadership. He did his best for the government, especially in difficult times,” said Mr Midiwo.

DUALE PRAISED

The former MP describes Mr Duale as a skilful negotiator, who when tempers flared in the House “reached to all regardless of divergent views held”.

Mr Manyora notes that Mr Duale put his life even where the President would not have dared and got what his bosses wanted.

“If you ask me, I would say that he was like a bulldozer that worked very well for his masters. He was committed to whatever he was sent to do. He did the job as expected by his bosses,” said Mr Manyora.

Mr Manyora’s only misgiving about the leader of majority is his lukewarm push for the enactment of the Two-Thirds Gender Rule.

Mr Duale published two bills that would later be called “Duale Bills” to ensure that not more than two-thirds in appointive and elected public bodies are from one gender.

The two attempts were, however, defeated as the National Assembly could not raise the numbers required to ensure they progress beyond the debate stage.

Although Mr Midiwo believes that he was stronger than Duale in the House, little did he know that he was a schemer - always vocal on the floor to defend the government agenda while at the same time mobilising his troops to toe the party line.

“If they remove him, they will never get someone else committed to his job. He knows his thing,” said Midiwo.

Political analyst Barasa Nyukuri said that listening to Duale while moving government motions on the floor depicts a person well-prepared for the occasion.

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