Thursday’s acrimonious vote has exposed the soft underbellies of three of the country’s top political leaders — President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Ideally, the political statement issued by the televised acts of defiance of party position in a matter of popular concern ought to move the trio into political introspection. But with one of them retiring and the election four years away from the other two, they were least trifled.
Yesterday, President Kenyatta signed the Finance Bill into law, met Ruto and Raila and flew away to New York leaving the pair to battle with public impressions that they sold them out. In a brazen show of defiance to their party bosses, a section of MPs trashed their party positions to pitch for zero VAT on fuel products. It took the stratagem of house leadership led by speaker Justine Muturi and majority leader Aden Duale to force through the Bill. On Tuesday, President Kenyatta hosted Jubilee MPs at State House and asked them to ensure the Bill was passed. But unknown to him was that the lawmakers were in total disagreement, a fact that played out during the passing of the law on Thursday.
Laikipia Woman Representative Catherine Waruguru (Jubilee) came out as the face of rebellion who not only opposed it on the floor but also vowed to move to court to challenge the legality of the passed Bill. In a spate of raw anger, the MP who appeared to represent the repressed feelings of colleagues vowed to sponsor a motion of impeachment against Speaker Justin Muturi over the way “he forced the law” on them. “We are saying we will not be intimidated, we are opposed to the over-taxation. We will not be intimidated,” said Waruguru.
Notably, as Jubilee met Uhuru at State House, the ODM leader — who holds sway and wields unmatched clout — is understood to have marshaled less than 20 MPs on Tuesday from the National Super Alliance (NASA) fraternity to articulate common position on the controversial Finance Bill. In the poorly attended meeting at Orange House, sources say the Bill proved unpopular, hence Raila could not openly vouch for it before live cameras in the press conference, instead delegating to National Assembly Whip Junet Mohammed and Mbadi.
With over 140 MPs on the NASA coalition, President Kenyatta could have banked on Raila for the unanimous support of the Bill and it came as a shocker that Raila did not put enough efforts on mobilising or was silently opposed to it. To salvage the situation, Duale was frantically forced to employ unorthodox means to quell the simmering acrimony that threatened to veto the President’s memo. MPs accused Duale of intimidation, coercion and bullying tactics that included confiscating voting cards, directing orderlies to open the door when the bell was ringing and stuffing some members in the toilet to starve the House of the requisite threshold to overide the President’s Memo.
If Thursday’s vote would have taken place before the handshake, Mokua argue, those in Jubilee would have supported Kenyatta’s position without questioning the merits and demerits of his reservations. On the same note, all NASA members would have opposed Uhuru’s reservation.
Kalonzo Musyoka joins Raila in supporting Uhuru’s slashing on the fuel VAT down from 16% to 8% this now leaves Musalia and Wetangula as the only NASA leaders who oppose and are for zero rated tax. pic.twitter.com/74QpK4w3UP
— Kenya West© (@KinyanBoy) September 19, 2018