The return of Amos Kimunya and why he carried the day

Newly appointed National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya during the Jubilee Parliamentary Group Meeting at KICC, Nairobi on June 22. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Seniority and experience in House leadership worked to the advantage of Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya, who was appointed National Assembly Majority Leader yesterday.

Sources said having served as deputy leader of government business in Parliament and as a minister in President Mwai Kibaki’s government, including in the plum finance docket, Kimunya was considered as fitting the bill as Garissa Township MP Aden Duale’s replacement.

Kimunya was also serving in the House Business Committee (HBC) alongside Duale.

Yesterday, Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju confirmed that seniority influenced Kimunya’s choice.

“The party and party leader has full confidence in Kimunya. He has the capacity to deliver having been a minister before and elected MP numerous times. This means he is not a small timer,” said Tuju.

“Holding these high profile positions in the past demonstrates that he has learnt the ropes and is equal to the task,” he said.

Making a comeback

Until yesterday, Kimunya was the secretary of the Jubilee Coalition Joint Parliamentary Group (PG), a position that went to Eldas MP Adan Keynan in what appears to be an attempt to appease Northern Kenya region following Duale’s ouster.

Kimunya has found a place in the top leadership of the Jubilee government, which came to power in 2013 when he lost the Kipipiri parliamentary seat before recapturing it in 2017.

For a man who was censured by the House in 2009 as a Cabinet minister during proceedings in which not a single MP rose to his defence, Kimunya is now expected to lead the ruling coalition’s troops in the National Assembly.

Kimunya’s censure motion was moved by then Ikolomani MP Bony Khalwale.

Yesterday, it emerged that Kimunya, who is also the vice chair of the House education committee, had initially been touted to replace Duale during the first PG meeting on June 2 at State House, chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, but the matter was put in abeyance.

“Amos Kimunya has been serving in HBC, so he’s got the experience,” said Borabu MP Ben Momanyi.

Kimunya promised to unite all Jubilee MPs and push the government agenda in the House.

“There are no rebels in the Jubilee party. We do not have Jubilee “A” or “B”. I intend to cultivate one Jubilee driving one agenda,” he said yesterday, downplaying the open revolt in the ruling party pitting Uhuru’s allies against those of his deputy, William Ruto.

Yesterday, Uhuru unveiled Kimunya at the Jubilee Coalition National Assembly PG meeting that he chaired in his role as the party leader, at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.

Uhuru took the opportunity to remind the legislators to focus on the coalition’s development agenda and advised them against engaging in divisive politics.

Top on the agenda of yesterday’s meeting was a petition made to Uhuru regarding the coalition’s National Assembly leadership, one which prompted the change of guard at the office of the Majority Leader.

The PG meeting was attended by Dr Ruto, Tuju and 174 Jubilee Coalition MPs.

Yesterday, another highly placed Jubilee official within the circles of the president, said Kimunya won the day for his vast experience in government and that his competence was vital in the post-Covid-19 recovery process.

“Kimunya was originally the choice to replace Duale. What happened yesterday was long overdue. He is the senior-most in the House and experienced. He served as deputy leader of government business when Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper party leader) was vice president,” said the official.

”His past experience as finance minister will help in engaging Treasury on the recovery of the economy through negotiations with different arms of government. As a representative of the executive, his experience will help a lot,” said the official.

The leadership is reported to have settled on Kimunya for the delicate job, arguing that, like Duale, he was a safe pair of hands.

“In the current political landscape, he was the right person to replace Duale,” said another party official.

However, some MPs immediately expressed apprehension with Uhuru’s choice of Kimunya, citing his past record in the House.

But Tuju was quick to dismiss such assertions, saying Jubilee did not need a ‘public relations consultant’ for the job.

“If we want a consultant in Parliament, we could have placed an advert in the papers. We believe in Kimunya’s leadership and he will deliver,” he said.

Kimunya’s star is once again shining after he failed to secure one of the most powerful committee seats in the House after the 2017 polls.

In three weeks, Kimunya has risen from the newly created Secretary of the JP Coalition to the powerful post of the majority leader, equivalent to the official leader of government business.

During his tenure in the current parliament, the former finance minister has remained solid in legislative matters but kept a low profile in party affairs.

In an interview with a local TV station on June 8, Kimunya said his predecessor, Duale, had lost the confidence of the majority of the ruling party’s lawmakers after failing to unite his political troops for a common cause.

“The title is the leader of the majority party, not a manager leader. One of the things a leader is expected to do is bring everyone together, build consensus, harness synergies of different members,” he said.

He argued that Duale’s continued stay in Majority Leader position would work against Uhuru’s development agenda at the National Assembly.

“We are 216 members of the Jubilee Coalition. Out of 216, if 126 are saying ‘we don’t want you as our leader, we’ve lost our trust,’ then you are left with 90 which is a minority,” he said then.