It is now official that Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki is on borrowed time after Speaker Kenneth Lusaka on Wednesday published a notice for a special sitting on Friday to discuss his removal from office.
This follows the filing of a motion seeking his removal by Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata on Tuesday, and an ongoing purge against Deputy President William Ruto’s allies.
Mr Kang’ata annexed to the notice a list of 48 lawmakers who support the ouster – 26 from the Jubilee Party and 22 from the Nasa coalition. He expects support from three more senators.
In the Kenya Gazette notice, Mr Lusaka stated that the special sitting will be held at the Senate chamber starting at 2.30pm.
“In accordance with standing order 30 (5) of the Senate Standing Orders, the business specified in this notice shall be the only business before the Senate during the special sitting …” the notice says.
Jubilee Vice-Chairman David Murathe said Prof Kindiki had already laid his head on the chopping board and should not expect any leniency.
“He must be ready for the humiliation or resign before the time comes,” he said.
Prof Kindiki, he said, had shown disrespect to the Jubilee leader – President Uhuru Kenyatta – by “conspiring with ousted Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen to undermine his idea of the deed of transfer of functions of Nairobi County government to the national government for the sake of the people of Nairobi”.
He added: “Signed by the Minister for Devolution in the presence of the Senate Speaker, witnessed by the Attorney-General in full public glare, they go to Parliament and together with Murkomen they engineer a motion to undermine the same, it cannot be business as usual. That is gross insubordination.”
Mr Murathe said Prof Kindiki should have raised his objections with the “President quietly” if he was not satisfied.
“But what they did was actually designed to embarrass the President,” Mr Murathe said.
He accused Prof Kindiki and Mr Murkomen, both DP Ruto allies, of mobilising senators against the wishes of the party.
Mr Murathe also said Prof Kindiki had failed to attend the Jubilee coalition Senate Parliamentary Group Committee meeting convened by President Kenyatta on May 11.
“They are saying they were not aware of the PG. This (Kindiki) is a person who had personally confirmed attendance but in his wisdom simply decided to skip it,” Mr Murathe said.
ELDERS UP IN ARMS
He also dismissed claims by DP Ruto’s allies that the endgame to the ongoing purge is to have the DP impeached. “The DP must be careful of whatever he wishes for,” he said.
In the notice, Mr Kang’ata did not provide the grounds he will rely on to impeach the deputy Speaker.
Some 45 senators are required to successfully remove the Speaker or his deputy from office. With Mr Kang’ata having annexed a list of 48 senators supporting the ouster, the removal is as good as done.
The holders of the two offices – speaker and deputy speaker – are State officers and they can only be removed on the grounds of poor performance or incompetence and not party politics.
The news of the possible ouster was not well received in Tharaka-Nithi County. The Njuri Ncheke council of elders expressed disappointment with the plan.
Speaking to the Nation on Wednesday, the elders’ chairman Linus Kathera said they were consulting on the nature of the offence the senator committed and intervene before the ouster motion is discussed.
“Prof Kindiki is our son and we are consulting with the relevant leaders to know the mistake that he has done that warrants his ouster,” said Mr Kathera.
He added that if it’s just a political witch-hunt, the elders will know how to approach the matter to ensure that “their son” is not humiliated.
County politicians, led by former Governor Samuel Ragwa and Marimanti Ward Rep Susan Ngugi, also expressed disappointment with the plans to remove Prof Kindiki.
Mr Ragwa said Prof Kindiki was previously unceremoniously removed from the Senate majority leader’s position even after serving President Kenyatta’s government diligently.
“Removal of Prof Kindiki from the deputy Speaker’s position is not only a blow to him but the whole Tharaka-Nithi County,” he said.
The region, he said, is being pushed into the opposition despite being labelled a ‘stronghold’ for the government’s party.
He added that Prof Kindiki has always been moderate and cannot be associated with either the Kieleweke or Tangatanga factions.
Locals also expressed dissatisfaction with the plan and urged the President to intervene and save the senator.
“We elected President Kenyatta courtesy of Kindiki and we can’t believe that he can watch as our senator is being humiliated by people who insulted him during campaigns,” said Mr John Mugendi, from Chuka town.
Additional reporting by Alex Njeru