Keter’s rebellious streak at university shows up in politics

By: WYCLIFF KIPSANG

Nandi Hills MP Alfred Kiptoo Keter had acquired a notoriety in Kenyan politics.

Many questions are asked about his crusade against corruption in the Jubilee administration. Is he a gun for hire for his party boss William Ruto or is he a rebel within the Deputy President’s United Republican Party?

The 36-year-old Keter may pass for any ordinary MP. However, he has made tremendous ‘noise’ over corruption in the government.

When President Uhuru Kenyatta visited North Rift last week, he told Mr Keter to stop creating unnecessary disturbance in the government by his continued push for the sacking of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru in whose ministry millions of tax payers’ money has been lost.

During a closed-door meeting with leaders in Eldoret Town, an angry Kenyatta is said to have told Mr Keter that he was not consulted when Ms Waiguru was appointed and therefore his demands to have her dismissed are unwelcome.

But an unbowed Keter, who was absent at President Kenyatta’s meeting with the leaders at the Eldoret State Lodge retorted: “The President’s claims that I was not consulted during Ms Waiguru’s appointment to the Cabinet are not only laughable but ridiculous. He (Mr Kenyatta) should be reminded as Parliament, we debated and approved Waiguru’s appointment.”

He went on: “The President should concentrate on his executive roles and leave Parliament to play its oversight role. We’ll not agree to be used as rubber stamps in appointments.”

Mr Keter shot into the public limelight in 2014 when he noisily objected to the building of the Sh447 billion standard gauge. The MP insists the cost was inflated by up to three times and that its tender was unprocedurally awarded.

At the time, the Deputy President’s chief of staff Marriane Kittany, who has been suspended over corruption claims, had written to the head of Public Service with similar concerns about the railway. Both Mr Keter and Ms Kittany had issues with Ms Waiguru.

Among other accusations, Ms Kittany was suspended over claims she used about Sh200 million to influence MPs to impeach Ms Waiguru. This persuaded many that Mr Keter is prosecuting Mr Ruto’s case.

However, things are not exactly clear. Indeed, his crusade has been cutting both ways as one of the people questioned in connection with the National Youth Service saga is an aide to the Deputy President.

Mr Keter took many by surprise when he openly told the President and his deputy to get rid of thieves in their midst at a rally in Eldoret in 2014.

The father of two girls has also been vocal on what he calls the sidelining of Rift Valley professionals in government appointments, citing transfer of Mr Kiplimo Rugut from the big money docket of National Youth Service.

Mr Keter is not new to controversy. In January, he was filmed, together with Nominated MP Sonia Birdi, threatening and insulting officers who had detained Ms Birdi’s lorry at the Gilgil weighbridge.

Mr Keter is facing charges in court over the Gilgil saga and indeed, many thought he had finally met his waterloo.

His rebellious streak goes back to the days he was a student at Egerton University where he was pursuing a degree in agribusiness. He was expelled in 2002 and later moved to the University of Nairobi and graduated with a degree in political science and public administration in 2011.

Mr Keter says he was expelled from Egerton after he rebelled against the Kanu regime. At the time, he was in the youth congress of the National Alliance Narc which finally ended Kanu’s 40-year-old hold on power.

Nandi County is famous for producing firebrand politicians who became thorns in the flesh of the establishment. But is Keter another Jean Marie Seroney or Chelagat Mutai, MPs who were firm in their opposition to the rot in the establishment during their time?

Or is he only a rebel with a cause, fighting for disgruntled parties as some charged during the days of his opposition to the railway?

“Utter nonsense,” he insists. “My zeal is just to fight for the downtrodden. I’m not under pressure from any quarters.”

On Ms Waiguru, who is under pressure to quit over the loss of Sh791 million from the youth service, Mr Keter said: “She should do the honourable thing and step aside to give independent bodies a chance to investigate her. If she is indeed innocent she will get back her cabinet job. Her continued stay in the ministry will jeopardize investigations.’’

This week, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission decided to use Ms Waiguru as a prosecution witness in the case against her Principal Secretary Peter Mangiti and youth service director general Nelson Githinji over the loss of the money.

One of his bids to impeach her failed after some URP MPs who had signed his motion pulled out, some say, on the orders of the Deputy President.

Speaker Justin Muturi also used his discretion to throw out the motion. Undeterred, Mr Keter says he plans to re-file the motion in February next year.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION