The Controversial Murathe

*Concerned Comrade John Gwambo*

David Wakairu Murathe first came into the public limelight in 1979 when together with the fellow University of Nairobi student leaders, he organized a riot to protest against poor catering services in the institution. This saw the University being closed for a period of one month.

When the University resumed its operation, he was already a marked man. The Economics and Political Science graduate admits that indeed political activists would use University students to strategize and advance their course to agitate for a democratic space.

He was a force behind the formation of Kenya Socialist Alliance together with George Anyona and Mukaru Nga’nga that led to the latter two being arrested and detained before launching the party in May 1982. On 1st August the same year, the most unthinkable thing happened, a coup.

Murathe was among the University student leaders who were picked by the police officers for questioning at Administration Police Unit in Embakasi.

This came as a surprise to him because it was contrary to the expectation of the student leaders who were busy planning for a political rally in the evening at Uhuru Park just to celebrate and form a movement, The People’s Redemption Council. After a period of one week, he was released alongside his few fellow colleagues like Musalia Mudavadi, Isaac Rutto and Philip Murgor.

However his freedom was short leaved. His season of reckoning came two years later while working with East Africa Industry in Kisumu, when the then KANU government began a crackdown on members of Mwakenya, an underground clandestine movement that was responsible for education and mobilization of the public on matters democracy.

He was arrested, taken to Railway Police Station in Kisumu, and later brought to Nairobi the same day for interrogation at the Nyayo House. In a record of 85 days, he describes his experience at Nyayo house as so horrendous that when he was taken to court later and sentenced to 15 months in prison, he felt some sort of freedom.

He served the term at both Kamiti Maximum Prison and Shimo La Tewa Prison. When he was released in 1988, he joined the Matibas and the Orengos of this world to continue with the struggle for multiparty democracy that was later granted in 1992.

He contested for Gatanga Parliamentary seat in 1997 against media mogul S.K Macharia, which he won with a landslide victory. His controversy had just began as his resignation letter surfaced in parliament two months into his election, but he later wrote to the then speaker Francis Ole Kaparo distancing himself from the resignation letter. Rumor had it that he had been bribed to resign and the Speaker left him to search for his conscience.

But Murathe did not stop there, in 2001 he volunteered to step down for Uhuru Kenyatta to inherit his parliamentary seat before President Moi and the KANU party settled on the late Mark Too as a succession plan.

In 2002, David Murathe lost his Gatanga Parliamentary seat to Peter Kenneth and decided to hang his boots from elective politics. He decided to venture into business and coffee farming but became so close to the former President Mwai Kibaki.

He would later reappear to form part of Uhuru’s think tank in the run up to the 2013 general election. This saw him being appointed as the Vice Chairperson of Jubilee Party in 2016 when over 14 political parties merged to form a single party.

Apart from being Uhuru’s long-time friend, those close to the duo says that Murathe played a key role in a special group of senior individuals in government and from the financial sector, mainly from the Mount Kenya region that quietly but diligently campaigned for the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta through raising a lot of money.

Immediately after President Uhuru had taken an oath of office, Murathe started warning Kenyans on how the president would be strict in his second term and would not spare anybody implicated in corruption including his fellow political allies.

In what seemed to be a calculated move, Murathe pronounced himself just a month after Uhuru appeared to throw Ruto under the bus saying his choice of successor would be a “shocker”. The game plan had been thrown into disarray as trusted members of the president kitchen cabinet also started working behind the scene to sink Ruto’s political aspirations. During the Maragoli cultural festival in Vihiga in 2018, Murathe bluntly stated that Kikuyu community did not have any MoU with Ruto regarding support in 2022. “If he (Ruto) had an MoU with Uhuru Kenyatta, then that was an agreement between two individuals,” he stated.

His sentiments stirred debate in the Jubilee party as members of parliament allied to Deputy President William Ruto called for the President to disown Murathe.  Kikuyu Member of Parliament Kimani Ichung’wa did not hesitate to throw his jabs at Murathe, “The two humble gentlemen have not contradicted each other and they are not about to contradict each other in the near future. Who elected him [Murathe] to that office? Which constituency does he represent? From where does he draw his mandate? Only President Kenyatta as the party leader and Ruto as deputy party leader can give party direction – and no one masquerading as a jubilee official,” he said.

Neither was he spared by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, “This is a man seeking cheap relevance by attacking the Deputy President, because anybody seeking political relevance must attack the DP. They are using shadow-boxing tactics just because they claim to be close to the President to stir ethnic animosity against the President and the Deputy President’s plan to unite all Kenyans,” he stated.

In a controversial move, Murathe resigned from the Vice chair position in Jubilee party, a move he said would help him pursue his agenda – stopping Ruto from ascending to power, peacefully.

He had even threatened to move to court to seek interpretation around expiry of term of both the President and the Deputy that bars either from running for office beyond 2022.

He has stated times without number that Jubilee coalition is open to more formations and it would become even a bigger house getting into 2022 general election.

Murathe has also remained adamant that President Uhuru Kenyatta is so young and therefore here to stay beyond conclusion of his term as President. In part of his speech at the recent BBI rally in Meru, Murathe was very clear that President Uhuru Kenyatta would not leave power for a thief in reference to the Deputy President William Ruto, who is keen to succeed the President.

But in all these alterations which many believe he has been speaking for the President, Uhuru Kenyatta has never distanced himself from Murathe’s views, and just to confirm the fears of the Deputy President supporters, Uhuru reinstated Murathe as Jubilee’s Vice chair and also constituted the NEC of the party kicking out those who were perceived to be Ruto’s confidants.

Appearance is everything in politics. That is how Niccolo Machiavelli ended up with his famous quote thus ”everyone sees what you appear to be, only a few experience what you really are.”  In the current political scenario, David Murathe is among the few who know who President Uhuru Kenyatta is.

Authored by The Concerned Comrade (John Gwambo).

A writer who reflects, re-members and re-envisions the political society with the aim of interrogating the past, the present to fashion the future.

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