The silent divisions in the Jubilee Party on Tuesday reared an ugly head on the floor of Senate when the charges against Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu were brought before the House.
How Uhuru’s team defeated Tanga Tanga’s attempt to save Waititu
Day of drama
It was a day when Senators allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta flexed their muscles and managed to get a win against Deputy President William Ruto whose allies occupy key leadership positions in the Senate.
Ruto’s camp has been showing solidarity with Governors charged with corruption and have accused powerful individuals of engineering the removal of county bosses who are allied to the DP.
It was therefore curious that Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen picked six Senators from the Tanga Tanga team to listen to the charges against Waititu.
While moving the motion for the formation of the special committee, the Elgeyo Marakwet Senator urged Senators not to look at the proposed list from the lenses of Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga factions – claiming the Senate was above such petty politics and that all Senators were objective.
The plot seemed to work as most Senators seemed to support the committee, both from the Jubilee majority side as well as the Nasa Minority side.
Senate Minority Leader James Orengo even seconded the motion introduced by Murkomen – the Nasa side had five senators in the committee that would also be chaired by one of their members – Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala.
The mood of the house quickly changed when West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio noted that the list from the Jubilee list was purely from the Tanga Tanga camp which would end up having six out of the 11-member committee.
Nominated Senator Farhiya Ali escalated the issue complaining that the Jubilee caucus had not discussed the list as the Minority side had done.
Senator Ali was booed and admonished by Murkomen who said she had no power to decide on the final decision which would be decided by elected senators.
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, a key ally of the President, said he had the confidence of all senators in the committee, but opposed the formation of the special committee on account it representation from any Senator from the former Central Province.
It was at this time that Orengo called for an adjournment to allow the Jubilee side to get their house in order.
When the House resumed, things had completely changed and the mood among senators was to oppose Murkomen’s motion and have the matter handled by the Senate.
The law specifies that once a special committee exonerates an impeached Governor, the process to remove from office would end there and the Senate would not investigate further.
This escalated the worry that the six Senators from the Ruto camp would effectively save Waititu with their majority six votes which would effectively end the matter and block all other Senators from voting on the matter.
“Let the whole House listen to the charges so that the case will be decided by a majority of 24 as opposed to 6 Senators,” Kang’ata said.
Ultimately, Murkomen’s motion was subjected to a division vote where all the Senators from the Opposition supported the Pro-Uhuru Senators to ensure the case was brought to the entire house.
In a day of rare political drama, Senator Orengo ended up voting against the very motion he had seconded while Malala voted against the formation of the committee despite being proposed as chairperson.
With the strong support from the Opposition, pro-Uhuru Senators carried the day securing 28 votes for the matter to be decided by Senators against 16 who supported Murkomen’s committee.
All Central Kenya Senators voted against the committee in the vote that was likely to have tested the Uhuru Ruto alliances among Jubilee Senators.
The Uhuru side is rumored to be working towards the removal of key Ruto allies from Senate positions – including Murkomen and Senator Susan Kihika who serves as Chief Whip.
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