MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto have hatched a plan to defeat the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The Standard has established that when Parliament reconvenes on January 5, the Tangatanga wing will re-commit amendments to further obstruct the passage of the Bill.
The Ruto troops in the National Assembly yesterday threatened to have all the amendments already dispensed with during the Wednesday chaotic session re-committed when the House convenes for another special sitting from January 5 to 7.
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At the same time, allies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga are also planning to re-commit an amendment that Ruto’s camp pushed through in what now promises to be an unending political grandstanding.
Further, senators allied to United Democratic Alliance (UDA) have been instructed to prepare multiple amendments to the Bill as part of a wider filibustering strategy.
Once the Bill is passed by the National Assembly, it will be forwarded to the Senate for concurrence.
It is this requirement that Ruto’s team plans to exploit by introducing amendments – should they manage to marshal numbers in the Senate – so as to occasion a standoff between the two Houses.
Yesterday, National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya told The Standard that backers of the Azimio La Umoja Movement will seek to review the amendment by Tigania West MP John Mutunga.
Mutunga on Wednesday succeeded in making changes to Clause 3 of the Bill for political parties to have a specific dominant colour.
“We will revisit that clause because it does not make sense. We will surely revisit it,” said Kimunya.
He said they expect to have the Bill passed by second day of the planned special sitting. He told off their opponents that they will be defeated despite their attempts to obstruct passage of the Bill.
“The amendments are already there and they have been reduced substantially. Even if they bring division with electronic voting, we will make progress within the first day and part of the second day, then complete it then we can proceed to other things,” said Kimunya.
“It was purely mischievous and filibustering; they did not want us to make progress all they wanted was to run down the clock and delay us. They did not have a voice of their own except to go stop the Bill by shouting and calling for division in every clause.”
Force a standoff
And in what offered a sneak peek of the looming showdown, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah said they will frustrate the Bill all the way to the Senate.
He disclosed that the game plan was to force a standoff and subsequent formation of a mediation committee of the two Houses.
“We will also recommit all other amendments and the game will continue. We are considering which clauses to recommit. It will be a circus all the way to the Senate and it will end up in a mediation committee deadlock,” said Ichung’wah.
“Just like BBI, in due course their bravado and hubris will come crumbling down. Any re-committal will be met with another re-committal. They are engaging in chest-thumping. If they are ready to legislate, we will be ready to reason.”
He claimed involvement of the Office of the President in the push to bulldoze through the proposed changes.
“We are not ready to be manipulated. Parliament derives its sovereign power from the people and cannot be subjected to manipulation,” said Ichung’wah.
Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki said they will take the battle all the way to the Supreme Court should the Bill sail through in the two Houses.
“We are super ready. On January 18, 19 and 20, we will perform the final rites on BBI at the Supreme Court. Thereafter, we will turn on this ill-advised Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021, in the High Court and, if need be, in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court,” said Kindiki.
“They will know that the pen is mightier than the sword and brain superior to brawn and brawl combined.”
Jubilee Coalition Joint Parliamentary Group Secretary Adan Keynan yesterday appealed to allies of Uhuru and Raila in the Senate to prevent any further delays when the Bill is submitted to the House.
He said saboteurs of the proposed changes were on the prowl to occasion further delays.
“Next week will be the climax of a deserved victory for all Kenyans, who have through majority members in the House persevered chaos, threats and dirty delay tactics to sanitise our politics for posterity,” he said.
“Wednesday events in the National Assembly should also serve as a critical lesson even to our senators – in whose hands this Bill will be in coming days – that there are saboteurs on the prowl, and they must stop them on their tracks,” the Eldas MP added.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, another Ruto ally, said they did well during the sitting that descended into chaos.
“We are strategising. The real elephant in the room is ahead. We succeeded by using flimsy amendments to gauge our strength,” said Barasa.
Ruto team employed all tricks to delay the proceedings by forcing division for every amendment. Some of the members further resorted to making irrelevant comments just to waste time.
For instance, Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri led Tangatanga-allied MPs in prayers for Sigowet-Soin MP Bernard Koros, who sustained a cut in the face during the chaos that lasted for close to five minutes.
Yesterday, former National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said UDA MPs have raised over 30 amendments to be debated and voted for by the House at the committee stage before the eventual passing of the Bill.
Duale said the group of MPs allied to President Kenyatta and Raila should brace themselves for a vibrant debate and thrashing by their UDA team in the coming sessions, terming their evening victory as results of serious mobilisation after the first loss.
“When they realised that things were not good, they resorted to mobilisation due to panic, but see how with all the parties in the House coming up against UDA, they got a paltry 12 members difference. They now know we have the numbers, they have begun to respect us,” he said.
Belgut MP Nelson Koech said the numbers they raise have brought them respect in the House.
[Additional reporting by Jacob Ngetich]