By Caroline Mango
Kibaki Tena lobby team leader has hit out at meddling party MPs, a day after reports linked the politicians to the cancellation of the Sh1 million-a-plate election slush fund luncheon. The chief executive officer of the Kibaki Tena team, Mr Lee Karuri, said the luncheon had nothing to do with Government friendly MPs, drawn mainly from Narc-Kenya, who are critical of the manner the abortive fundraiser was being organised.
“The presidential campaign has nothing to do with parliamentary and civic seats in the General Election. We will have nothing to do with MPs,” Karuri, who leads the group of selected, well-heeled businessmen and technocrats, said.
The official defended the cancellation of the luncheon, which was due Saturday at Nairobi’s Safari Park Hotel, saying they would not accept being put under pressure from any quarters.
“It’s a long story but the thing is that there is no pressure. The thing is that the Saturday lunch was cancelled because it was going to coincide with many other events,” he added, preferring not to divulge the details of the surprise cancellation.
Cracks in campaign team
The shelving appeared to expose cracks in the Kibaki re-election juggernaut, which boasts some 300 co-ordinators countrywide, backed by fleets of 4x4s, modern communication gadgets and the Provincial Administration.
Karuri — linked to a high profile positions in the private sector — said they were not under obligation to consult politicians on the choice of constituency co-ordinators because it was a presidential campaign affair.
By leaving them out of the process that picked co-ordinators, MPs feel the group had hatched a scheme to alienate them.The defiant Karuri announced that the luncheon would be held soon.
And he received support from another prominent businessman and an ally of Kibaki, Mr Anthony Warui, the proprietor of Angelica Tea Ltd in Mombasa. He said politicians would not be part of the Kibaki Tena campaign.
Also likely to stir controversy is another team, which consists of a group of financiers in Nairobi also said to be mobilising funds for Kibaki’s re-election kitty. It is ‘Taifa Tekelezi’ (working nation) whose slogan is Kibaki Miaka Tano Tena (five more years for Kibaki).
Warui, who played a major financial role in the 2002 General Election and who is also mobilising like-minded businessmen this year, said similar luncheons would be held in all provinces.
“Businessmen want to fundraise and so it’s a group of like-minded people coming to together for a cause… Politicians can fundraise in a different forum,” said Warui.
Finance Minister, Mr Amos Kimunya and Transport Assistant minister, Mr Robinson Githae, defended Karuri, saying the fundraiser was a businessmen’s affair and should not cause discontent among politicians.
Goodwill gesture by businessmen
At the beginning of the week, top officials of Narc-Kenya were breathing fire over the way things were being run by the Kibaki Tena camp.
Most MPs and officials of Narc- Kenya are opposed to the Sh1 million luncheon, saying it was bound to paint a negative picture and affect Kibaki’s re-election bid.
But speaking to The Standard from Mombasa yesterday, Karuri told off politicians saying they should not try to meddle in the affairs of the Kibaki Tena lobby.
The chairman of the Taifa Tekelezi group is Dr Thuo Mathenge, while the national organising secretary is Mr Kazungu Kambi, the influential executive chairman of Riva Oils and Kaloleni constituency aspirant.
Kazungu said the businessmen’s idea and style of fundraiser should not be misconstrued.
Kimunya also defended Karuri and his team and said the lunch had nothing to do with the Government.
“This is a gesture by businessmen who want to fundraise towards Kibaki’s kitty. We will not be using State resources as has been stressed before and therefore, there should be nothing wrong with that,” said Kimunya in Nairobi.
Githae said the shelved lunch was the beginning of events to fundraise for Kibaki’s re-election.
“It is not only the businessmen, there will be another one for professionals and even local wananchi who want to donate,” said Githae.