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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 9 February 2015

Njue State House visit leaves Embu politics in tatters

The head of the Catholic Church in Kenya, Cardinal John Njue, has been caught in the turbulent Embu county politics.
When the catholic head met Uhuru Kenyatta at State House to push for the unity of warring factions in Embu, little did he know he was rubbing a faction in the battle the wrong way.
At the State House talks, Njue is said to have sided with a camp allied to embattled Embu governor Martin Wambora. The governor is facing impeachment over alleged corruption and financial malpractices and has moved to court to stop the process.
Sources divulged that Wambora begged Njue to use his church connections and prevail over president Uhuru who is said to have a soft spot for the man of the cloth to help him solve his impeachment headache that has been hanging round his neck for sometime giving him sleepless nights. An insider close to the governor says he has used fortunes to fight the war and his bank accounts are running dry hence his move to have Njue intervene.
What Njue was not briefed on was that the case is pending in court and Uhuru has no influence over it. The governor has challenged his impeachment by the Senate in court. Njue and the entire Kenyatta family are close. The first family happens to be staunch Catholics after Uhuru’s mother Mama Ngina convinced the late founding father of the nation Jomo Kenyatta to defect from PCEA to catholicism. It is worth noting that Jomo Kenyatta as a boy from poor family was educated by the PCEA church then headquartered in Thogoto. This is the education that saw him later chosen by the Kikuyu to present their land grievances in London  in the 1930s hence setting him on the way to the presidency. Njue is said to be a regular State House visitor.
The impeachment of Wambora had the blessing of almost the entire political class in Embu. Some of them led by MP Cecily Mbarire  are said to have connections at State House courtesy of cabinet secretary Devolution and Planning Anne Waiguru. Njue was brokering a deal that would see Uhuru intervene to save Wambora’s skin. This has put the entire Embu leadership up in arms. They have accused Njue of playing dirty politics in the unfolding scenario. On the other side, Njue claims State House talks were aimed at reconciliation in Embu politics.
The State House meeting has raised political temperatures in the county. The anti-Wambora camp has already been spreading word that the president refused to make a commitment on Njue’s plea and Njue left a disappointed person.
Among those who attended the State House meeting were Attorney General Githu Muigai, Embu ACK Bishop David Muriithi, Embu Catholic Bishop Paul Kariuki and Mbeere ACK Bishop Moses  Nthuka.
Wambora was impeached for gross violation of the public procurement and disposal Act, gross violation of the public finance management Act and violation of the constitution.
This is not the first time Njue is being caught up in political affairs. Njue was openly close to Mwai Kibaki faction of the coalition government with then Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
In the run-up to that bitterly contested election, the Catholic church under Njue was perceived to be pro-Kibaki, whose disputed re-election sharply split the country and the bishops within the Catholic church.
In one outstanding incident, Njue two months before the 2007 elections rejected devolution of government, which was a major campaign pledge of the Odinga-led Orange Democratic Movement.
Sources say following the 2007 election, the Vatican had to fly in Nigeria’s Cardinal Francis Arinze, then the most senior African at the Vatican (as prefect of the congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments), to help reconcile Njue and Archbishop Zachaeus Okoth of Kisumu.
The bone of contention then was that the bishops had issued a statement condemning the re-election of Kibaki as irregular. But a section of the bishops under the instigation of Njue withdrew the statement and issued a different one congratulating Kibaki and urging Kenyans to accept the result.
Throughout Kibaki’s second term, Njue scarcely concealed his disregard for Raila. In September 2011, during a low-key public lecture and fundraiser at the Holy Family Basilica for the beatification of the late Cardinal Maurice Otunga, where Raila was chief guest, Njue hardly said a word to the PM on his arrival and shortly thereafter excused himself and left the hall, clearly embarrassing his guest.
As things stand, Njue is facing the political heat and as to whether he will succeed in saving Wambora’s skin, time will tell.