‘Mariga letter’ further exposes endless power struggles within Jubilee party
The declaration by the ruling Jubilee Party that it will field a candidate in the Kibra by-election on November 7 has further exposed the internal conflicts in the President Uhuru Kenyatta-led party.
Barely hours after Secretary-General Raphael Tuju issued a statement inviting aspirants to apply for the party’s ticket on Monday, a letter he purportedly wrote was sent to the electoral agency bearing five names, including that of football star McDonald Mariga.
Others on the list were Mr Morris Peter Kinyanjui, Mr Mikinyingi Walter Trenk, Mr Said Ibrahim and Ms Doreen Nangame Wasike.
The emergence of this list has further exposed the underlying tension in the party resulting from a perceived cold war between Mr Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Tuesday wrote to the party seeking a clarification on the letter it received on Monday.
In a brief statement on Tuesday, the agency confirmed receiving the letter but noted that it had written to the party and forwarded a copy of it for “information and further action”.
“The Commission received a letter on Monday, 26 August 2019 at 5pm, forwarding names of aspirants of Jubilee Party for the Kibra by election.
However, it has come to the attention of the Commission that Jubilee Party has denied authoring the said letter and termed it as fake,” the IEBC said.
“Consequently, the commission has written to the party forwarding a copy of the letter for the party’s information and further action,” it added.
The letter was addressed to IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati.
State House digital strategist and blogger Dennis Itumbi was among the first people to circulate it on social media.
It reads, “Following your notice of vacancy of Kibra constituency, Nairobi County dated August 16, 2019, the Jubilee party hereby forwards to you the names, identification card number and gender of our aspirants for your action.”
But, when contacted for comment, Mr Tuju denied writing the letter, only saying that he had issued a press statement on Monday indicating that the party will field a candidate in the Kibra by-election.
“I just gave a press conference telling those who are interested in contesting to get in touch because we won’t do the normal nomination process in which people line up or vote or whatever,” he said. “Ours will be an interview process whose deadline is Friday.”
On the letter to the IEBC he said: “Some busybody somewhere is trying to do something I don’t understand. I will investigate.”
“The signature which is there is fake. Well, I sign like that for certain types of communication but for official communication to IEBC there is a specific signature with secret codes which is not that one,” he added.
He revealed that IEBC first notified him of the letter but was reluctant to admit it “since they detected the signature lacked the normal secret codes”.
On Tuesday, Jubilee Deputy Secretary-General Caleb Kositany appeared to read from a different script.
Mr Kositany, the MP for Soy, appeared to authenticate the list, saying, “Those are part of the aspirants who have expressed interest and others will still come. So let’s just wait until we clear the process.”
Meanwhile, ODM Secretary- General Edwin Sifuna expressed confidence that the party will recapture the seat.
“Let us meet at the ballot,” Mr Sifuna told Jubilee and other parties that have expressed interest in the seat.