The hostile rhetoric among key players in the Jubilee administration continued unabated as rival politicians allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto attacked each other.
The previously unthinkable and unrestrained attacks directed at the President and his deputy from Jubilee rank and file seem to mark the beginning of the end of the coalition formed in the wake of the International Criminal Court investigation of the 2007/2008 post-election violence. The President and his deputy were named among the defendants.
While the Deputy President’s attack team features mainly a section of Jubilee elected leadership, President Kenyatta’s side has recruited the help of vocal Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) players, who are now attacking the Deputy President in platforms hosted by Jubilee counterparts.
In the absence of a ceasefire, things may get worse following a warning by Nominated MP Maina Kamanda that it may become necessary to petition the President to select who presides over public events associated with him.
In an interview with the Sunday Nation, Mr Kamanda said: “We are going to petition the President to delegate Cabinet Secretaries to preside over functions he cannot attend. We cannot allow individuals he delegates to open or close functions associated with him to continue contradicting him at every turn.”
Mr Kamanda is the convener of Mt Kenya Leaders Forum, a cross-party platform featuring both sitting and former MPs who have assumed the face of an overtly vocal anti-Ruto lobby in a region whose majority of its elected leaders is perceived to be solidly loyal to the DP.
“Going forward, you will start seeing a different style of doing things. We are going out to tell Kenyans what they need to know, and there is no turning back. Some things are untenable. When the President expresses confidence in institutions like the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), only for his deputy to contradict him, something has gone terribly wrong,” Mr Kamanda said.
The MP spoke in reference to recent comments made by the Deputy President while closing the 6th Devolution Conference.
Dr Ruto faulted what he described as “selective prosecutions and investigations of individuals to achieve predetermined political objectives” as the biggest threat to the war on corruption.
Last weekend, Mr Kamanda led a team comprising both Jubilee and ODM elected legislators to a televised church event in the city, during which a barrage of attacks was directed at the Deputy President.
On the same day, the Deputy President was a guest at another church event in Kiambu County in which another group of elected leaders from Central Kenya said they had deep reservations about both the handshake and the way high-profile investigations into alleged graft are being conducted.
While pledging unwavering support for Ruto’s presidential ambitions in 2022, Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and his Kikuyu counterpart Mr Kimani Ichungwa were unanimous in faulting the handshake and the war on corruption.
Mr Waititu was the most explicit, warning President Kenyatta not to lead the Kikuyu community into abandoning his 2022 succession pact with his deputy.
“The Kikuyu community will not allow itself to be branded con men. We will not allow ourselves to be led into the wilderness. We are not con men,” Mr Waititu said.
The narrative that President Kenyatta had reneged on a political pact between his Mt Kenya base and Mr Ruto’s Kalenjin base to return the favour for their 2013 and 2017 elections has split the Jubilee leadership in Mt Kenya.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria says the political tension inside Jubilee has a negative impact on business at the National Assembly.
“The despondency in Parliament is hard to disguise. Few have any passion on the business at hand,” he said on Thursday.
Mt Kenya MPs have also accused President Kenyatta of being inaccessible and scolding them in public when they demand development, yet he responds positively in ODM zones.
The rebellion, which was simmering, has now erupted in the open, with MPs questioning the president’s decisions and defending each other whenever Mr Kenyatta goes on the offensive.
They defended Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro when the President scolded the lawmaker for asking for funds for a school at an event in Murangá.
Kandara MP Alice Wahome and Mr Kuria said the Kiharu MP had a right to ask for development.
Kikuyu Council of Elders chairman Wachira Kiago said that there were signs that Jubilee “was no longer a viable political vehicle for articulation of Mt Kenya’s political concerns”.
Prof Macharia Munene, a political science lecturer at the United States International University, said that lack of restraint in exchanges in Jubilee pointed to shifting loyalties and alliances in preparation for the 2022 succession contest.