Trouble is brewing in Azimio la Umoja One Kenya over the nomination of lawmakers to the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).
A fallout between former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party and his handshake partner Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Party (ODM) is imminent after the latter nominated two members to PSC at the expense of Jubilee, which had laid claim to one slot.
On Thursday, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula sealed Jubilee’s fate after he upheld the decision by the Senate that effectively locked out Uhuru’s party in the PSC.
Jubilee legislators decried unfair treatment by ODM, which they said had nominated two candidates to PSC in disregard of the law and Azimio agreement that they claimed dictated that Wiper, ODM and Jubilee should get one slot each.
Jubilee lawmakers even threatened a walkout from Azimio if the anomaly was not rectified.
According to Article 127 of the Constitution, out of the seven members to be nominated to the PSC, three shall be nominated by a party or coalition of parties not forming the national government.
On Wednesday, ODM picked Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni and Likoni MP Mishi Mboko effectively, locking out Jubilee from the equation given that Wiper party had nominated Mavoko MP Patrick Makau to PSC.
Jubilee legislators accused their ODM counterparts of deceit and demanded that Wetang’ula halts the debate on the matter until a consensus is reached within Azimio and their slot returned. A call that went unheeded.
“There are rules of engagement but ODM is defying the same. We want our slot back because it is our right. We refuse to be anyone’s flower boy or flower girl,” said Eldas MP Adan Keynan.
Nominated MP Sabina Chege led the calls for debate to be halted.
“The decision taken by the Senate negates the democratic space of political parties in Parliament... We the leadership of Jubilee Party are saddened by the show of impunity and urge all Members of Parliament across the political divide not to carry the amendment by the Senate,” stated Ms Chege.
She blamed her party for its lopsided communication regarding the PSC. The Nominated MP was referring to the party’s decision to drop Sirisia MP John Waluke from the PSC nomination list and replace him with Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo in last-minute changes.
“I will also not fully blame ODM. The Jubilee Party cannot be sending three or two letters communicating different things. It needs to get its act together. Even on the issue of the Eala, we got different letters on the nominations,” she said.
Laikipia North MP Sarah Korere reiterated that Jubilee was ready to go it alone in Parliament should ODM continue with its “conmanship”.
“We are saddened by the antics employed by our partners. ODM should know that we, as Jubilee, were not coerced to join Azimio and we joined willingly. But should they mistreat Jubilee we are also going to leave the coalition willingly because we have witnessed their political conmanship,” stated Ms Korere.
Mr Keynan further said the party will call for a Parliamentary Group meeting to discuss the matter and other pertinent issues.
ODM lawmakers, however, dismissed the claims saying they amounted to blackmail.
“There is a no more expensive thing in this House than being a member of Azimio because you become a punchbag. ODM allowed the member from Jubilee to be on the list and the name was taken to Senate. What else could we do? Did we have to go to the Senate and vote?” posed Ruaraka MP TJ kajwang.
“If Jubilee or any other party has an issue they should know we cannot be a party that is being intimidated every day,” he added.
National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi said: That was an independent decision of the Senate over which we had no control. It’s a mere storm in tea cup.”
And in his ruling on the matter, Speaker Wetang’ula faulted Jubilee for laying claim to the position, long after Parliament had voted on the issue.
“The Jubilee party has made its claim after the House has unequivocally pronounced itself on the matter. I have also taken the liberty to peruse through the Azimio coalition agreement, faulty as it may be, to help me navigate this issue. I have noted that the agreement makes no mention of the sharing of positions. That alone deals a fatal blow to Jubilee,” he said alluding to a similar matter in the previous parliament where the Wiper party had raised a similar claim.
“No amount of sympathy that I have on the plight of Jubilee would allow me to arbitrate this matter as my hands are tied by the law and procedure of this House,” he added.
Shortly after the House adopted Omogeni’s nomination, all the seven commissioners were sworn in.
Last week, Omogeni sparked controversy when he accused the ODM leadership of leaving out other regions that had supported Raila’s presidential bid in August 9 General Election. The Nyamira senator was unhappy that a section of Nyanza had been allocated slots at the PSC at the expense of Kisii and Nyamira.