This week marks a pivotal moment for Deputy President William Ruto who is facing a ruthless political onslaught from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
On Tuesday, another top ally of the DP, Senate Deputy Speaker Kindiki Kithure is set to fall in a house cleaning by Uhuru that will also claim several committee bosses associated with Ruto.
Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika were last week removed as Senate Majority Leader and Majority Whip respectively.
Kindiki who is the Tharaka Nithi senator was at some point touted as Ruto’s 2022 running mate. His fall will deal a staggering blow to the DP.
Ex-Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri who was also seen as a possible running mate to the DP was fired in January, dimming his political star.
But more is to come as five nominated Senators allied to Ruto appear before Jubilee Party’s disciplinary committee Wednesday.
Nominated senators Millicent Omanga, Iman Dekow, Waqo Jillo, Prengei Victor and Mary Seneta face expulsion from the party for snubbing Uhuru’s State House meeting.
On Monday, Jubilee chairman Nelson Dzuya said the nominated senators will be accorded a fair hearing.
Dzuya, a key Uhuru ally, said there is no predetermined outcome of the hearings and that the disciplinary committee will be professional.
“Everybody will be given a fair hearing. It will be a transparent and open process,” he told the Star on the phone.
A day after, the Political Parties Tribunal is set to rule on Jubilee’s post-election coalition with Gideon Moi’s Kanu.
“These issues mean that the deputy President faces a moment of reckoning this week. It would be a life and death week for him,” said Former Cabinet minister Franklin Bett.
Bett, a former State House Comptroller, told the Star that the deputy president is in a political conundrum that would test his “patience, humility and temperament.”
“Like any politician, Ruto has made his mistakes, unfortunately, he appears to have overstayed in his comfort towers,” he said.
The Star has established that President Uhuru has sanctioned the removal of Kindiki and committee chairpersons allied to Ruto as the rift widens.
Kindiki sits in the powerful five-member Speaker’s Panel and is the second in command in the Senate after Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.
The Tharaka Nithi senator’s no-show at the Senate Parliamentary group meeting at State House on May 11 could be his grave undoing.
On Monday, newly installed Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a) confirmed to the Star that Kindiki had a ‘case to answer for snubbing the President’s PG.’
Kang’ata argued that meetings convened for members by the party leader must be taken seriously and politicians with reservations are meant to raise them there.
“He is among the senators who did not attend that parliamentary group meeting at State House and no reason was given for that non-attendance. We followed up asking for that reason or even a written apology but it was not forthcoming,” Kang’ata said.
Kang’ata, the president’s emerging favourite and political confidant is expected to move a motion to impeach Kindiki on Tuesday.
Up to five chairpersons of some Senate committees could also lose their plum positions.
Finance committee chairperson Mohamed Mahmud (Mandera), his devolution counterpart John Kinyua (Laikipia), Justice and Legal Affairs panel boss Samson Cherargei (Nandi) and Christopher Lang’at (Bomet) who chairs the Education face the axe.
Other Committee chairpersons targeted include Naomi Waqo (Cohesion and Regional Integration), and her vice-chairperson Millicent Omanga.
Omanga is also set to lose her slot as a member of the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment panel.
Also on the chopping board are Justice and Legal Affairs committee vice-chairperson Mithika Linturi (Meru), Prengei who is the vice-chairperson of the Lands committee and Seneta (vice-chairperson Energy committee)
President Uhuru is said to have given Kang’ata express directions on who should chair the committees to be reconstituted.
The Standing orders-the House rules and procedures, allow committee members to pick their chairpersons and vice-chairpersons.
The Star understands that Kang’ata was yesterday working with new Senate Majority leader Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot, Kanu) to agree on new members to the committees affected.
But Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria claimed that the changes in Senate are expected to set the ground for the DP’s impeachment which he alleged is being worked on by his detractors.
“The Jubilee Party Owner Occupier has given express instruction to Sen Irungu Kangata to initiate the removal of Prof Kithure Kindiki as Deputy Speaker in the Senate so as to pave way for the impeachment of William Ruto. Like Job we refuse to give up on our Living God,” Kuria posted on his Facebook page.
However, Kang’ata claimed that the party has made a decision to reconstitute committees and would kick out those who have been opposed to the President’s agenda.
“We shall be reconstituting committees at the Senate to dewhip senators who have been defying party leader President Uhuru Kenyatta’s efforts to unite the country,” Kang’ata said.
As was the case when the current leaders were selected at State House in 2017, the President is keen on having his own lieutenants allied to the Kieleweke faction lead the committees.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s ODM party could also reap big in the changes.
Yesterday Jubilee National Advisory Council chairman Albert Nyaundi backed an overhaul of committees and expulsion of errant nominated senators.
“Even in the most mature democracies, respect for the holder of the highest office in the land is not negotiable,” Nyaundi said.
“The presidency is the symbol of the country’s unity and nobody can address it with contempt and then survive in leadership.”
The highlight of the president’s purge at the Senate would be the axing of Kindiki, the law professor who left lecture halls for the chambers.
Kindiki was a high flying Jubilee honcho and fierce Ruto defender in Uhuru’s first term.
He then belonged to a team of ‘special’ Jubilee Senators and MPs christened the Sky Team who used to fly in choppers attending harambees and rallies across the country after the 2013 polls.
However, following the 2017 polls, Kindiki fizzled out from the high octane national politics amid claims he is plotting for the Tharaka Nithi gubernatorial seat in 2022.
There are reports that Uasin Gishu senator Margaret Kamar could replace him on the speaker’s panel which also has ODM nominated senators Judy Pareno and Rose Nyamunga.
The President’s allies are expected to team up with opposition chief Raila Odinga’s troops to attempt to raise the magic 45 senators — the two-thirds majority — needed to oust a deputy speaker.
The voting patterns are expected to follow the impeachment of former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu in which attempts by Ruto’s wing to flex political muscles to save him flopped.
Jubilee has 24 elected senators and 10 nominated ones while Kanu and PDR, parties in a coalition arrangement with Jubilee have three and one senators respectively.