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Kimani Ichungwah: Why I blocked Uhuru Kenyatta’s phone number

A disagreement over the funding of the Universal Health Care that was one of former president Uhuru Kenyatta’s brainchild projects and the ensuing threats from the former head of state over the matter led Kikuyu lawmaker Kimani Ichungwa to block Honorable Kenyatta’s mobile phone number on his device.

At that time, Mr Ichungwa was the Chairperson of the Budget and Appropriations Committee in the 12th Parliament.

In an interview with TV journalist Enock Sikolia for his Kenyan Historian YouTube channel, Honorable Ichungwa, now the Leader of Majority in the National Assembly, said he rarely spoke to Uhuru Kenyatta back then and only interacted whenever he visited Parliament or at government events where their paths crossed.

“He would occasionally call on budget related matters. In 2019, we had a big problem. In 2018, we had an issue on UHC. They came up with a program to do the level three hospitals that they are doing around Nairobi and other areas and they put a huge budget for UHC that was not funded. People were lying to him in his government so he happened one day to call me at night about 11:30 pm and I could tell the state he was in that time.

He was livid, shouting,  threatening me ‘you undermining my government’, so when he shouted too much I asked him ‘Your Excellency, if I am becoming a problem as your Chairman of Budget, why don’t I resign and you get another chair who will not undermine you if you think I am undermining you? Otherwise, You Excellency, if you allow me one minute I can explain to you,” began Mr Ichungwa.

According to the Parliamentarian, he explained to Uhuru Kenyatta that there was no funding in the budget for the program because it was being transferred to net domestic borrowing; and that former cabinet secretary Ukur Yattani was lying to him about the funding for the program. Mr Ichungwa also allegedly told Uhuru Kenyatta of a House resolution to stop any more allocation to UHC until the Ministry of Health tabled reports on the pilot program of the UHC in the initial four counties.

“…People are putting a gun on my head to put resources and I told the president ‘I have no way, you can ask (former) speaker Muturi .I can’t reverse a House resolution as Kimani Ichungwa or even as Chairman Budget.  Even the Speaker can’t, only the House can reverse its own decision or ask your cabinet (secretary) to comply with the house resolution,” continued Mr Ichungwa.

Apparently, upon hearing this, Uhuru Kenyatta allegedly continued shouting at, threatening and insulting Mr Ichungwa, swearing that he would crush and finish the former Budgets Committee Chairperson. Without giving it much thought, “in his own stupidity”, Mr Ichungwa allegedly responded by asking the president not to threaten him.

“I told him ‘Your Excellency, please don’t threaten me’. I could hear him bang the table and telling me he was not threatening me but telling me. I told him that what he was asking me to do was not possible and I will not do it. He then told me ‘Ichungwa utanijua, utaniona. I will crush you,” continued Mr Ichungwa.

It was then that the Parliamentarian told Uhuru he did not appreciate the threats, telling him to do his worst- the worst being killing him – to solve his problems. He then informed the president that he would block his number and asked that any further communication between them be channeled through the Leader of Majority, then Aden Duale, and this allegedly further ignited Uhuru Kenyatta into issuing more threats.

Mr Ichungwa claimed he hung up on the president but he called back and upon answering and restating his position on being threatened, Ichungwa once again disconnected the call and proceeded to block Uhuru Kenyatta’s number.

At that time, Mr Ichungwa was a member of Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party, and they haven’t spoken since to date.

The political tussle between Ichungwa and the former present continued with the legislator electing to support President William Ruto in the 2022 presidential elections.

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