The narrow but humbling loss in the Kiambaa by-election has sparked off a fierce blame game in Jubilee, with high-ranking party bosses claiming bureaucrats from the Office of the President hijacked the campaign strategy and cash.
It emerged yesterday that Kenyatta’s civil service advisers waged supremacy battles, took over the campaigns behind the scenes and bullied party campaign managers.
Interviews pieced together from top party officials paint a picture of a shambolic and rudderless team unable to effectively hit the ground for popular but doomed candidate Kariri Njama.
A senior official who asked not to be named painted the picture of the office being left as a bystander in the management of the ruling party’s election affairs.
“It is easy to have the blame on party officials but we are relegated to the periphery as some people ran what should be our mandate,” the official said.
“People at the OP (Office of the President) should restrict themselves to the issuance of IDs, provision of relief food and such like functions,” the official said, adding they are infuriated by the unfolding events.
Yesterday, Joseph Mathai, the Jubilee regional coordinator for Kiambu and Murang’a counties, recounted how senior civil servants, whom he decided not to name, at the Office of the President kicked out party officials from the Kiambaa campaign.
Mathai, a former TNA executive director, said the mandarins literally took over leaving party officials as mere spectators.
“You can imagine that being the guy in charge of that region, I was never involved in that campaign so when somebody points a finger at me I think they should be checked,” he told Star on phone.
Mathai claimed the same bureaucrats bungled the Juja parliamentary by-election in which little known People Empowerment Party beat Jubilee in mid-May. PEP is linked to Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.
“We blame it (the twin loses) on the people who went there and excluded the Secretary-General and his experienced directors who had come from the merged 12 political parties. Our track record is simple, if anybody wants to know how capable we are, we delivered 2013 and the much-contested election of 2017,” he said.
“They should look at the electoral calendar, if you want to get involved in politics and you are a civil servant, there is a date for you to resign then you come and join us. We are not going to have pseudo civil servants, pseudo politicians interfering with electoral processes. Our role was reduced to prayers,” Mathai said.
Jubilee, it emerged, picked Njama after party intelligence reports identified him as the most popular and who would deliver the much needed by-election victory.
In hindsight, party bosses claim Njama had all along been a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto and in February hosted Ruto in Kiambaa against the wishes of powerful opinion leaders in the party.
Senior and influential bureaucrats, on account of the reports, approached Njama who was already eyeing the UDA ticket to switch to Jubilee.
On Friday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission announced United Democratic Alliance candidate Njuguna Wanjiku the winner. Wanjiku garnered 21,773 to beat Jubilee’s Kariri Njama who got 21,263 votes in Kenyatta’s turf.
George Koimburi of PEP who was being supported by Deputy President William Ruto beat Jubilee’s Susan Njeri in Juja after he garnered 12 ,159 votes against her 5,746 votes.
Jubilee has also lost county assembly by-elections in Nakuru and Nyandarua.
He added: “What I find amusing is that ODM – for example – lost in Ugenya and nobody went for Sifuna’s blood or if there is a loss of ODM in Homa Bay would it be appropriate to bay for Sifuna’s blood? When people are baying for my blood there is nothing I can do about it.”
He also dismissed reports of a crisis meeting at Jubilee headquarters over the Kiambaa defeat, explaining it is a routine meeting of the party’s NMC.
“Nothing unusual, we meet as NMC every week. We meet weekly virtually. When we meet an agenda is developed and if Kiambaa comes on the agenda what is unusual about it? I expect Kiambaa to get into the agenda,” he said.
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