Sabina Chege’s political journey is on an upward trajectory as she assumes the role of Chief Whip, a significant milestone in her career. The new role is perceived as an elevation and a testament to her growing influence, particularly in the political landscape of Mt. Kenya, her home region.
On Wednesday, a surprising turn of events unfolded in the prolonged struggle over the Deputy Minority Whip position within the House. Sabina Chege was designated as the Jubilee Whip, while she relinquished her role in the Azimio coalition, passing the mantle to Mark Mwenje.
National Speaker Moses Wetangula, acknowledging the prolonged uncertainty, made a landmark ruling, permitting Mwenje, a member of the Jubilee Party, to assume the position he had waited for nearly five months. He further directed that Sabina Chege would take up the task of whipping the party’s membership in the House, citing her substantial popular support.
This ruling ignited a new battlefront between two factions within the former ruling party. Sabina Chege’s faction is determined to sever what they term an “abusive marriage” with Azimio.
The matter of replacing Sabina Chege as Minority Whip had been embroiled in months of legal disputes, hampering her replacement within the Opposition Coalition.
In his ruling, Speaker Wetangula emphasized, “Honorable Members, I guide the House as follows: there currently exists no bias against the decision made by the minority party to replace its Deputy Whip.”
Wetangula proceeded, “Standing order 20a(5) requires the speaker to communicate the decision to replace the whip to the house. In this regard, Hon. Mark Mwenje forth replaces Sabina Chege as the Deputy whip of the minority party.”
The long-standing court battle stemmed from Sabina Chege’s shift of allegiance from the Azimio Coalition to President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance, resulting in her removal from the position of Deputy Minority Whip.
The Azimio Parliamentary Group had resolved to replace Chege with Mwenje as the House Minority Deputy Whip on May 30. In response, Chege pursued legal action to contest the decision. However, on October 9, the Kiambu High Court dismissed her suit, instructing her to exhaust the internal mechanisms within the Azimio Coalition.
Speaker Wetangula’s ruling recognized the Jubilee Party as a parliamentary party and directed Sabina Chege to oversee the whipping of Jubilee Party members in the house. He clarified that this recognition would not affect the status granted to majority or minority parties in the National Assembly.
“The Hon. Sabina Chege, by virtue of the written support of 21 members out of 28 members of the Jubilee party in the House in the letter dated June 22, is allowed to perform, in the interim, the role of the whip of that party in the House,” Wetangula affirmed.
He added that this interim decision aimed to facilitate the seamless continuation of the House’s business until the internal disputes within the Jubilee Party were resolved through the appropriate channels.
Jubilee Party has grappled with leadership disputes for several months, with two groups claiming to be the legitimate officials of the party. While one faction remains loyal to Raila Odinga’s Azimio coalition, another has shifted allegiance to President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza. A considerable number of MPs have aligned with Ruto, consolidating the dominance of his Kenya Kwanza coalition in the National Assembly.
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