Mercy Mwai and Anthony Mwangi @PeopleDailyKe
Lifestyle audit call by President Uhuru Kenyatta continues to stoke strong but divergent reactions within the ruling Jubilee Party.
The fissure lines appear to separate those who back the call and those perceived to be close to Deputy President William Ruto who appear to interpret the call as targeting him, mincing no words as they express reservations and apprehensions.
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator and Senate Leader of Majority Kipchumba Murkomen, for example, has poured cold water on the practicality of the audit and wondered whether a legal framework exists to effect it. They have also questioned its motive.
A cabal of Jubilee leaders mostly from Ruto’s Rift Valley backyard, including Nandi Senator Samson Cherargai have echoed similar sentiments in what is seen as dredging differences within Jubilee.
And yesterday Cherengany MP Joshua Kittuny while reacting to Murkomen, cautioned that sentiments by leaders hitting out at the lifestyle audit call and the manner they were doing it while blaming Opposition leader Raila Odinga for allegedly causing tension within Jubilee was futile and reckless.
Addressing a press conference at Parliament Buildings, the MP said he was dismayed by a statement by Murkomen that President Uhuru Kenyatta was being held hostage by some unnamed State House operatives.
“For a leader of the party in the Senate, his statement is unfortunate, reckless and clearly deliberately meant to injure the person of President Uhuru,” said Kuttuny.
He told Murkomen to note as he seeks to campaign for Ruto, that he is a brand name by himself and does not need some reckless and egoistic politicians to market him.
Kuttuny assured Jubilee was in harmony and any allegations to the contrary should be dismissed.
At the same time, in what was seen as re-strategising, there are indications that some political forces seen to be close to the DP might have mooted plans for separate political vehicle as fallback position in the event the widening schisms in the UhuRuto party are not addressed.
Sources aware of the ongoings within the party confirmed that the Ruto’s lieutenants have agreed to register a new party that could be used by the DP in his quest for presidency in 2022.
By last evening some of the top allies had reportedly visited the office of the Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung’u to finalise on the registration of the new outfit. It was understood that the decision to register the new party is being pushed by the DPs allies who are not happy with the statements being bandied around by some of their colleagues in the party, especially over ongoing anti-corruption drive.
But it was not immediately clear as to who the officials of the party were although sources confirmed that the allies had agreed to proceed and register it.
And yesterday, Ndung’u confirmed that since the beginning of the year, her office has issued provisional registrations to two parties—United Green Party (UGP) and Grand Dream Development Party (GDDP).
She, however, denied claims that Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP) which had been merged with The National Alliance (TNA) to form Jubilee had been registered afresh, saying this can only happen after five years.
“We have issued provisional registration certificate to two parties United Green Party and Grand Dream Development Party in 2018,” said Ndung’u.
Her remarks came even as Cherargei was quoted as saying they were looking for a new political party for the DP come 2022.
“As friends of William Ruto, we are contemplating the formation of our own party. We are thinking of leaving Jubilee Party to Uhuru and his people. We cannot work with saboteurs; we cannot work with those who think they can block DP’s 2022 bid. We can’t work with our enemies,” he said.
Notably, Ruto has in the recent past cautioned his lieutenants to desist from making inflammatory statements under the guise of defending him. The DP is on record saying he had not given instructions to anyone about his purported discomfort inJubilee.
Contacted, Senator Murkomen a close ally of Ruto denied that such a move was being mooted.
“I am not aware,” was the Elgeyo Marakwet senator’s terse response to our inquiries.
His National Assembly counterpart and Garissa Town MP Aden Duale dismissed the claims, saying both Uhuru and Ruto are in Jubilee to stay.
He said URP and TNA were dissolved with the main aim of having one political party to serve Kenyans and this is still Uhuru and Ruto party, adding that Uhuru and Ruto are firmly in Jubilee and are not interested in forming a new party but bringing the country together. “That is hot air. Both the President and his deputy are in Jubilee to stay,”said Duale.
Nominated MP Gideon Keter also dismissed the claims, saying those planning to decamp are doing so on their own.
The new developments come at a time when the disquiet within the Jubilee has been growing after Murkomen threatened to name senior State House officials he claimed were out to curtail the DP’s presidential ambitions.
Murkomen, Cherargei and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi have been united in terming the lifestyle audit call a witch-hunt and targeting a specific individual.
Sudi said they support the presidents call on the audit, but said that everyone should submit to the audit including political leaders and their families starting with the late founding President Jomo Kenyatta.
The lifestyle audit by the president is aimed at taming the runaway graft that is also expected to expose those who have profited from the proceeds of corruption with concerns that some politicians have acquired massive amounts of wealth that they cannot account for.