Senator leaders were on Thursday engaged in a fierce verbal altercation in the chamber that left colleagues and Speaker Ken Lusaka perplexed.
Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and his Minority counterpart Moses Wetangúla traded barbs over adherence to House rules and procedures as set by the last Senate in dealing with issues.
Trouble ensued after Murkomen asked his deputy Senator Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo) to second a motion seeking to alter the House calendar by one week to allow time to dispense off the delayed election of Kenya’s MPs to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
Instead of giving the opportunity to the Minority side as was the tradition set by his predecessor Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki and Wetangúla in the last Senate, Murkomen ignored the same, and opted to have Dullo.
Vihiga senator George Khaniri sought the Speaker’s intervention on the matter, faulting Murkomen’s action, only for his point of order to open ‘cannon of worms’ in regards to the relationship between the two leaders.
“Senator Murkomen is deviating from the norms of the House. This matter should have been canvassed in the House Business Committee (HBC) and seconded by the opposite side, “interjected Khaniri.
Senator Wetangúla took the opportunity to also register his displeasure with the conduct of the Majority leadership after Murkomen dismissed Khaniri concerns, saying there was no way he was attempting to deviate from traditions.
Wetangúla even revisited an incident where Dullo tabled the Controller of Budgets (CoB) reports on counties and side a colleague from the Majority side to second, sidelining the minority side.
“It’s obvious, we don’t need to get the consent of the minority leader especially when he didn’t attend the HBC meeting and has not looked for over the same,” said Murkomen in downplaying Khaniri’s concern.
He jeered, “Courtesy and senator Wetangúla do not add up. You miss senate committee, you don’t go to the office of the speaker to ask and you have no courtesy to look me, its wrong. Khaniri stood on a point of order, which Standing Order provides for the order? This is breach of the SO.”
Wetangúla angered by Murkomen’s response, stressed on the need for the House to conduct its affairs in a bi-partisan manner, which they have divergent views.
“When you listen to senator Murkomen proliferating on irrelevant issues, you wonder. The practice, tendency and good behaviour requires that we stand up and raise issues,” charged Wetangúla.
He continued, “It’s like testing the wheel and we are best at it. When presiding House activities, we must recognise the two sides, especially when issues are not contested. It is courteous and good behaviour for the unity of the House. The infantile chest thumping does not inspire confidence in House.”
He explained that he excused himself from the HBC meeting and even rang the Speaker.
“I missed the HBC but talked to the speaker on phone, as I was engaged in a serious national issues, touching on December 12th. Murkomen should know, he is no longer a back bencher but senate Majority. He must be duty bound about his language, better schooled issues and courteous,” said Wetangúla.
Murkomen could not take the dress down lying down and told off Wetangúla that he is like his father and should be proud off his progress.
“I have refrained myself from a lot of insults. I have listened at Wetangúla and between courteous and Hon Wetangúla, there is nothing decent. I have accepted and played silent, quiet and humble. Every father is proud of son and he should be celebrating me every day. I sympathise and he must revise his language, before he can second a motion,” insisted Murkomen.
Khaniri censured Murkomen, saying humidity is pronounced but action is rea.
“Is it proper to impute an improper motive on your counterpart?” he asked.
Wetangúla hit back at Murkomen, saying he will not tolerate infertile argument.
“I did not solicit to second the motion. Matters should not be bipartisan. Murkomen delusionary behaviour is worrying, it is as if he sees the image of former Inspector of police David Kimaiyo.
Speaker Lusaka confirmed Wetangúla’s assertions but agreed with Murkomen that Dullo should second the motion.
Senator Amos Wako (Busia), Abdullahi Ali (Wajir) and Yusuf Haji (Garissa) condemned the exchange, urging the speaker to deal with the two.
“It is sad to listen to distinguished members exchange in the chamber, they should talk outside. These are senior members and we don’t encourage that sought of language, the speaker should have ordered both of them to get out,” said Ali, even as the Speaker appeared overwhelmed to rein in.
Senator Haji lamented that they were tired of constant exchanges between the two.
“We are tired of the two leaders. Get on and rein on them. We cannot allow them to continue doing what they are doing especially when we have guests from the counties. Tongue lashing is wrong among us,” said Haji.
Murkomen and Wetangúla has their history tracing from the last parliament, both defending their issues without apology.