Why Jubilee meeting was called off amid simmering divisions

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President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto called off last Tuesday’s Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting to forestall a bitter fallout that threatened to paralyse government operations, the Nation has authoritatively established.

President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto had held a five-hour meeting at State House the previous week to discuss the state of affairs in government and within the ruling party.

It is at this meeting that the idea of convening a PG to heal the wounds in the party was agreed on, sources close to the presidency told the Nation.

Despite denials by the Jubilee Party Secretary-General Raphael Tuju that the governing party was split down the middle, sources revealed that the two leaders later developed misgivings about holding the meeting against the backdrop of bitter differences between their allies.

During a press briefing early in the week, Mr Tuju denied there was a crisis in Jubilee, and attempted to insinuate the media had manufactured one for unknown reasons.

CHANGED TUNE

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On Saturday, Mr Tuju changed tune, stating that the issues facing the party were too weighty to have been discussed in a “one or two hour PG” and instead said they required “a retreat.”

He said that once the retreat is convened, the party leadership will lay its agenda on the table and MPs will also be allowed to ventilate.

Mr Tuju, who spoke to the Sunday Nation on the phone, said the party was still waiting for the President’s diary to accommodate the retreat.

“We are mulling whether to have a series of retreats with 50 MPs per event or hold one big retreat to last several days that will accommodate all 220 MPs. Discussions are ongoing,” he said.

The agenda of the retreat, as and when it is convened, will include explaining to the MPs the envisaged economic impact of the Big Four projects, so that they can move away from mere sloganeering of the President’s agenda and understand and appreciate its value to the economy.

They will also discuss their role as leaders and how to manage their diversity, said Mr Tuju.

STRATEGIC OPTIONS

The retreat will further discuss growing the party by identifying the strategic options available for it besides also deliberating on the party’s relations with others.

“There will be specialist and resource persons who will take us through these issues. Jubilee will emerge stronger. Make no mistake, MPs will also be allowed to ventilate because that is the essence of democracy. There are things that happen and there is no time to explain them, for example when the Deputy President and former Vice- President Kalonzo Musyoka shook hands at the prayer breakfast, that was a political moment that had not been foreseen. It is issues like that one that some members may need an explanation on,” he said.

The last time the party held a PG meeting was in February, which was poorly attended after most MPs failed to show up having received a tongue-lashing from the Head of State at a similar meeting two months earlier.

However, public altercations between key players continued to escalate with a clear dichotomy emerging between those in support of President Kenyatta’s revamped war on grand corruption on one side, and the other that seems keen to reframe the calls for lifestyle audits as a ploy to derail the Deputy President’s presidential ambitions.

  1. More of this story on the Daily Nation