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Kang’ata’s nine-month reign as Senate Chief Whip

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When the ruling Jubilee party was conducting a purge in May 2020, it was meant to clean a house deemed untidy, owing to a section of MPs not toeing the party lines.

The purge came at a time when the Tangatanga wing of the Jubilee Party was showing blatant disregard of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive of abandoning politics to a later, ‘right’ time.

In the words of Murang’a Woman Rep. Sabina Chege, the purge was targeting Uhuru’s detractors.

“These leaders have been running around the country daring and insulting the President, but when he takes action, they are now crying,” Sabina had said.

It started at the Senate, off went strong and outspoken DP Ruto allies in Senators Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika. The duo was replaced by KANU’s Samuel Poghisio and Jubilee’s Irungu Kang’ata.

Tangatanga history

Yet it has been the Murang’a senator’s tenure as the Senate Majority Whip that has been a rabble-rousing one.

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Political pundits questioned the decision to entrust a vital Senate position unto a man who originally pledged allegiance to Tangatanga faction, before changing camp to Kieleweke- President Uhuru allies.

Kang’ata was, however, proving his doubters wrong, until the December 30, 2020 letter.

In the letter that was leaked to the media, a ‘bold’ Senator Kang’ata had outrightly told the President that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) was unpopular in Mt Kenya region.

In fact, Kang’ata said that he had conducted a survey in his county, a survey that shows that BBI will fail in the region, that only two out of 10 people in Central Kenya support the initiative.

This letter attracted praise and criticism in equal measures. Leaders supporting BBI questioned why Kang’ata would write such a letter, yet he has the direct access to President Uhuru.

BBI proponents like Suna East MP Junet Mohamed said that Kang’ata was only but forging a path back to where his heart belongs- Tangatanga.

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Kang’ata did not help in shooting these claims either when he said:

“We need to accept good ideas irrespective of who they are coming from, there are ideas that have been given by the so called Tangatanga wing that are very good.”

Others like National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya blamed Kang’ata’s letter on his “political naivety and immaturity.”

“…partly inexperienced, partly wanting to attract attention and I see probably pressure from his colleagues… Isaac Mwaura is one of his bosom buddies, Alice Wahome was getting a lot of attention after her statement and perhaps he (Kang’ata) thought he should also do something,” said Kimunya.

Pressure to retract or resign

First, immediately after the letter was leaked, propagandists started alleging that the letter was fake and was not from Kang’ata, only for Kang’ata himself to come out and acknowledge that he was the author of the controversial letter.

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Then pressure started mounting on him to recant the letter or face the same axe he had benefitted from nine months ago. But a bullish Kang’ata refused to heed to these demands.

“If the party decided to remove me from the position of whip because of my stand, then I will accept and thank them for giving me the chance to serve,” Kangata said.

Eying the governorship

Governor Mwangi wa Iria is in his second and last term in office. According to political analyst Herman Manyora, Senator Kang’ata is eying the coveted seat in 2022.

It appears that maybe Kanga’ta sees his chances of securing the county’s top seat while he is at the Kieleweke side are growing slimmer. In Tangatanga side, pundits say, Kang’ata will easily himself easily securing the governorship.

Now that Kang’ata has been kicked out as the Senate’s Majority Chief Whip position, it remains to be seen what his next political move will be.

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