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My first encounter with David Murathe, Uhuru’s strategist

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On a sunny Saturday afternoon of October 4, 2008, I received a call from a man whose mobile phone number I did not have. He identified himself as Murathe, but I couldn’t recall the name and for a moment had him confused for Dr Stanley Murage, President Mwai Kibaki’s adviser and strategist. “Not Murage, Murathe,” the jovial, gravelly voice on the end of my mobile phone emphasised. I was still at sea. “David Murathe, the former MP for Gatanga,” he said. It mildly rang a bell. “I am now Uhuru’s (Uhuru Kenyatta) adviser,” he informed me by way of introduction.

I recall that call vividly even after all those years because it left a huge impression on me. At the time I was a rookie correspondent based in Nation Media Group’s Eldoret bureau and, therefore, not exposed enough to the country’s political movers to catch their attention or even that of their assistants. No one of Mr Murathe’s stature had called me before.

However, from that end of the world I had managed to write a number of in-depth analysis that had about the shifting political alliances that had obviously got the attention of some observers in certain quarters.

A tinge of fear often hits many a rookie journalists when they write articles that offends their powerful subjects. Mr Murathe’s unexpected call instilled that fear on that day. What could he possibly want from a correspondent he had never met before? I braced myself for the usual harangue.

“I liked the article you wrote today,” he said. Well, that was some sort of relief. I can recall him saying to me: “That is very good work and I want to encourage you to continue that way.”

The article in question was a special report I had written about an attempt by MPs from the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin communities living in Rift Valley to form a political alliance as a way of ending the hostilities between them.

Members of the two communities living in Rift Valley clashed following the announcement of the results of the December 2007 presidential poll which was won by President Kibaki (who was overwhelmingly supported by the Kikuyu), but disputed by his main challenger, Raila Odinga, whom the Kalenjin voted for almost to a man.

The proposed alliance was the brainchild of Molo MP Joseph Kiuna who termed it a reaction to what he claimed was the marginalisation of the Kikuyu diaspora by the regimes of presidents Jomo Kenyatta and Kibaki. Nominated MP Musa Sirma was among the first ones in the Kalenjin community to embrace the initiative.

“When two brothers fight, they often become best friends,” Mr Murathe told me that bright Saturday afternoon. “We should not have violence during every election cycle. This is the cure,” I can recall him telling me as clearly as my memory can serve me.

The Kalenjin-Kikuyu union or popularly known as the “KK” alliance, was one of the many reasons for the fallout between Mr Odinga and one of his key lieutenants in 2007 campaigns, Eldoret North MP William Ruto. Not only had Mr Ruto played a key part in Mr Odinga’s campaigns, he was in the four-man team that led the negotiations on behalf of Mr Odinga during the mediation talks led by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan.

In the power-sharing agreement negotiated by Mr Annan, Mr Odinga was named Prime Minister deputised by Mr Kenyatta (representing President Kibaki’s side), and Mr Musalia Mudavadi representing Mr Odinga’s side.

Mr Ruto was named minister for Agriculture. But in a period of less than two years, the relationship between him and the PM had strained so badly over a number of issues culminating in Mr Odinga suspending Mr Ruto from the Cabinet in February 2010 over alleged graft.

All along, President Kibaki’s camp watched the infighting within ODM gleefully even as they sought to cut Mr Odinga down to size. One note of memory that stuck with me all those years is Mr

Murathe remarks about the clash between Mr Ruto and Mr Odinga: “Without the Kalenjin, he (Mr Odinga) is done,” he said. The main drivers of the KK alliance were to be Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto who were expected to mould it into a political vehicle through which to contest the 2013 presidential elections.

However, at the time of Mr Murathe’s call, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto had not publicly warmed up to the idea of the ethnic alliance. The latter simply avoided any talk about it in public. Mr Kenyatta said it would not work, accusing Kalenjin MPs of insincerity. “Such an agreement cannot work because, while some of us are sincere, our brothers are not,” he said during Mr Kiuna’s homecoming ceremony in September 2009. But in the end, they were forced to come together by circumstances beyond their control after they were both indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their alleged roles in the 2007/2008 post- election violence. Well, 10 years later, things have gone full circle. Mr Murathe, who was one of the ardent supporters of the KK alliance — which essentially birthed the ruling Jubilee Party — is now an avowed opponent of one of its leading lights, Mr Ruto, who is now Deputy President and is seeking to succeed President Kenyatta in 2022. How times change!

As Narrated by Sunday Nation Writer Kipchumba Some

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Chebukati weighs in on BBI report  

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BY KEVIN KOECH

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati has given his two cents on the controversial BBI report.

Chebukati criticized ODM leader Raila Odinga and other stakeholders who came up with the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, for portraying the election body as single handedly being the issue in every divisive election cycle.

He further lashed out at the BBI team for using the IEBC as a scapegoat through a statement on Friday the 23rd of October 2020.

He also condemned the changes the BBI report is proposing on the IEBC.

“IEBC notes that it has been singled out as the only independent commission and indeed entity whose establishment is sought to be removed by way of the proposed changes in the bbi report under divisive elections thematic area,” he said.

According to Chebukati, the BBI is counteracting some of Kenya’s gains in the election process.

“Additionally, the report claws back on the gains made over the years on electoral management in kenya. This targeted onslaught against the commission is not new as it has been occurring after every general election since 1992.

The sustained campaigns weaken and interfere with the independence of the commission which is guaranteed under article 88 as read together with article 248 and 249 of the constitution of Kenya 2010,” he added.

Raila has repeatedly called for changes on IEBC starting with commissioners.

According to him, this will increase people’s faith in the independent Commission.

The ODM leader also proposes that IEBC officials should only be in the office for only a three-year term.

They can, however, renew it only once if their tenure was transparent and effective.

The BBI also proposes to do away with the IEBC vice chairperson post who acts when the chairman is absent.

The report also proposes the change of titles to fewer titles such as Head of Department instead of the Director.

Returning officers should also only serve for one general election according to the BBI.

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Ezekiel Mutua hits at Pope Francis after endorsing same-sex civil unions

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BY KEVIN KOECH

Kenya Film Classification Board C.E.O Ezekiel Mutua has hit out at Pope Francis following his remarks on same-sex marriage.

In an interview for his upcoming film dubbed “Francesco” which premiered on Wednesday, October 21, the head of the Catholic Church endorsed same-sex civil unions.

He pointed out that homosexuals are also children of God who need families and should be protected by law.

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered,” he was quoted in CBS News.

KFCB boss took an issue with the Pope stating that a leader of such stature cannot endorse what is against the order of nature and God’s creation.

He added that Pope Francis should be condemned.

“A leader of the stature of the Pope cannot endorse what’s clearly against the order of nature and God’s plan for family and procreation.

“If he did, he should be condemned and his statement taken with a pinch of salt,” he stated on Saturday, October 24.

Ezekiel Mutua went on to defend Pope Francis saying that he does not believe that he meant to endorse gay union and he might have been misquoted.

He added that however if he indeed meant what he said then his advice should be ignored.

“I honestly do not believe that Pope Francis meant to endorse same-sex marriage, but if he did, then he’s grossly wrong and his advice should be ignored. I believe his statement was in the context of “gay human rights” but not the practice of homosexuality,” he added.

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Churchill speaks tough on people accusing him of being behind comedians’ woes

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BY KEVIN KOECH

Churchill Show host Daniel “Churchill” Ndambuki has rebuked Kenyans who blame him for the comedians’ woes.

Addressing mourners during the burial of the late Ben Maurice Omondi, popularly known as Othuol Othuol, the laugh industry director said that he started the Churchill Show with the aim of realizing opportunities among talents and not oppressing them.

Ndambuki previously attracted backlash from his fans when Churchill comedians are faced with depression or misfortunes.

He said that the wrath should be directed to the government and not him.

Churchill noted that he is just a common Kenyan who had a small dream and whose ambition was to change the lives of as many Kenyans as possible by helping them realize their dreams.

He added that the government had shown less effort in nurturing and supporting talented young Kenyans.

The comedian stated that the reason Kenyans bash Churchill Show each time something happens to the comedians is that it’s the only platform that they get to be seen, yet the government should be doing a lot to the comedians and added that he is neither the government nor has he ever been funded by the government.

Ndambuki also urged the comedians to make use of the social media platforms to build their brands and let their content known as well as earning a living.

Churchill has a number of times found himself on the receiving end with Kenyans recently accusing him of ‘misusing’ comedians resulting in depression that leads to their death.

In July, Female Churchill Show comedian Zeddy alleged that comedians in the Show only get paid if their art is aired on TV.

According to Zeddy, some comedians perform for months, but their shows never get aired, despite the expenses they incur trying to get on TV, which has thrown many into depression.

Othuol Othuol died on Sunday last week after a long battle with pulmonary Tuberculosis and brain Tumor.

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