President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party declared the decision to kick out Deputy President William Ruto from his position as deputy party leader was a foregone conclusion, only awaiting the Head of State to convene a top party organ to ratify it.
Party chairman Nelson Dzuya and vocal vice-chairman David Murathe on Monday said the Head of State holds the cards on the fate of his estranged deputy following the October 2020 decision of the National Management Committee (NMC) to kick him out of the party.
Throw out decision
“NMC sat in October last year and made a resolution to remove Dr Ruto from his post as Jubilee deputy party leader. That resolution stands. Once the NMC sits, we set the agenda for the National Executive Council (NEC) which can either adopt, review or throw out the decision of the NMC. That is the only thing we are waiting for,” Mr Dzuya told the Nation yesterday.
The party official dismissed claims that the delay was because President Kenyatta had shot down the resolution to kick out his deputy from the second most powerful seat in Kenya’s largest party.
And while party honchos want President Kenyatta to be the one to chair the NEC meeting to deliberate on the NMC decision, there is a growing push to have Mr Dzuya, the soft-spoken, but powerful Jubilee chairman, to chair the meeting on behalf of the President.
“Under the Jubilee Constitution, I can chair a NEC meeting on behalf of the party leader. If the party leader has other schedules or is busy when NEC is supposed to meet, he can delegate it to me. But because the removal of the deputy party leader from his post is a weighty matter, we wanted him to chair the NEC meeting. But if he so chooses to delegate that responsibility to chair the meeting to me, I will do it,” Mr Dzuya told the Nation last evening.
Seize control of party
The NMC decision was made after Dr Ruto, in an effort to seize control of the party, stormed Jubilee headquarters in Pangani accompanied by 38 MPs in what allies of President Kenyatta termed as a ‘coup’ when the Head of State was out of the country.
Seen as part of his scheme to recapture Jubilee, the DP had then vowed to operate from the offices but would later be declared persona non grata by the party through a communication by Secretary General Raphael Tuju.
The NMC, a small but powerful organ that acts on behalf of and sets the agenda for the even more powerful NEC, then voted to remove the DP from the deputy party leader post, the last straw in the Uhuru-Ruto divorce.
Two weeks ago, the same NMC struck again at the heart of Ruto’s camp in Jubilee, kicking out his last man standing in NEC, Soy MP Caleb Kositany from the deputy secretary general post.
Yesterday, Mr Murathe said the DP had himself to blame and Jubilee was only following his lead.
“It is Ruto that has kicked himself out of Jubilee. How can you remove somebody who has removed himself? It is obvious. NMC did its job. We are just awaiting ratification by NEC,” Mr Murathe said.
Yesterday’s NMC meeting, Mr Murathe said, deliberated on nominations, the impending court ruling on the six expelled Jubilee senators, as well as the relationship between Jubilee and Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), a new working formula the ruling party had hoped will be made strong to learn from that country’s party which has ruled since independence.
“We have put everything on ice in line with the President’s directive in light of President John Magufuli’s passing. When the President says, everything stops, even these (internal) fights,” Mr Murathe said, as a possible explanation for the delay in summoning NEC.
For Dr Ruto, the NMC decision is a return of a fight he had vowed to win last year at the advent of Covid-19 when the President’s wing of Jubilee changed membership of NMC, without Dr Ruto’s input.
Against the DP’s wishes and legal battle to oppose the names, Jubilee successfully had its way by appointing Lucy Nyawira Macharia, Prof Marete Marangu, former Kitutu Masaba MP Walter Nyambati, Jane Nampaso and James Waweru to the NMC.
The ruling political outfit had forwarded five new names to the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu following the exit of three others.
More than 145 Jubilee MPs allied to the DP wrote a letter to Ms Nderitu protesting the coup but it did not amount to anything as the Tuju-led wing went ahead with the changes, anyway.
The NMC coup was a fatal blow to Dr Ruto because the team is in charge of the day-to-day management of the party and sits more frequently than the NEC or the National Delegates Conference to make urgent and pressing decisions.
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It is this powerful body that kicked out Mr Kositany as Jubilee Deputy Secretary General two weeks.
For Jubilee, however, its make-or-break moment, it appears, came after the March 2018 Handshake between President Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga, with Dr Ruto insistent that the deal was meant to give an easy ride to the former prime minister’s fifth attempt at the presidency.
Isolated and facing a growing threat of impeachment, Dr Ruto and his TangaTanga-allied leaders have found a home in the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), a rebrand of the Jubilee affiliate Party of Development and Reforms (PDR).
UDA has fielded candidates in this month’s Matungu and Kabuchai parliamentary as well as Machakos senatorial seats with Ruto-allied MPs openly campaigning for the rebranded party’s candidates.
UDA, a rebrand of PDR, has five elected leaders in Parliament led by Senate Deputy Majority Leader Fatuma Dullo, who is also the Isiolo senator, as well as Wajir Woman Rep Fatuma Gedi, Tarbaj’s Ahmed Bashane, Mark Lomunokol of Kacheliba and Ijara’s Sophia Abdi.
Mr Murathe insists that if for nothing else, Dr Ruto should be shown the door for associating with UDA.