President Uhuru Kenyatta is banking on the newly created position of Secretary of the Jubilee Coalition to foster cohesion in the ruling party and eliminate dissenting voices ahead of the 2022 polls, his confidante David Murathe has said.
Eldas MP Adan Keynan, one of the longest-serving lawmakers, will now be the linkman between the party leadership and parliament, a role hived off from the Office of the Leader of Government Business (Majority Leader) to stem rebellion from forces loyal to Deputy President William Ruto.
"If members are defying party position and programmes, he is the one to bring this to the attention of the party leader. His mandates includes creating synergies with coalition partners such as Kanu," Mr Murathe said.
Mr Kenyatta, we understand, is out to correct an anomaly that saw him fail to convene parliamentary group meetings (PG) because of incessant bickering in the political outfit. At some point, there was concern among the President's men that he could be heckled if he attempted to convene the meeting.
For almost two years after the 2017 General Election, it was widely believed that DP Ruto controlled the politics of Jubilee, including MPs, leaving the President in-charge of the State but this is no longer the case after Mr Kenyatta embarked on a brutal purge forcing majority of lawmaker to scamper for safety, in the process abandoning the second in command.
Today if the President 'coughs' nobody would dare challenge him in such meetings. Few would also risk skipping them.
The concept is borrowed from party caucuses and coordination in the US congress where MPs are whipped into a particular line whenever a need arises.
Mr Murathe, who is the Jubilee vice chairman, says Mr Keynan is now in charge of de-whiping truant members as well as relaying information from party bosses to members and vice versa.
The changes saw Kipipiri's Amos Kimunya replace the vocal Garissa Township MP Aden Duale as the Majority leader.
By settling on Mr Keynan, Mr Kenyatta was killing two birds with one stone, insiders say. His promotion not only assuaged the anger in Northern Kenya following the sacking of Mr Duale but also a welcome move among his colleagues who say he is good at looking after their interests going by his stints at the Parliamentary Service Commission and as the chairman of Public Investment and Defence and Foreign Relations Committees.
On Wednesday, political heavyweights from Northern Kenya led by Garissa Senator and chairman of the Building Bridges Initiative Yusuf Haji thanked Mr Kenyatta for Mr Keynan's post.
"We thank the President for appointing one of us without having to consult. It means he has immense faith in us," Mr Haji said.
According to Mr Murathe, the new arrangement means that Mr Kimunya will now do liaison work involving the National Assembly on one hand and the Executive on the other.
Yesterday, Mr Keynan told the Sunday Nation that he had settled in office and was out to build synergy among coalition partners and party members.
"We do not want to see a situation where members are speaking at cross-purposes on party matters," he said. "My focus will be on the handshake between the President and ODM leader Raila Odinga, the Building Bridges Initiative and the President's big four agenda by creating a nexus between the executive, parliament and the party," he said, arguing that the issues form part of the president's legacy enterprise.
He is the only MP to make it make to Parliament from Wajir County in the last three consecutive elections. He has also served in the Commonwealth Association of public accounts committees as board member. While he agrees that the office is an important tool in fusing political parties with the legislature, Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kangata agrees in the past there has been a disconnect between the two sides.
"It is the role of the occupier of the office to ensure legislative agenda aligns with the Jubilee agenda. As a whip I cannot initiative disciplinary action against a member without consulting the holder of that office," Kang'ata said.