Khalwale loses seat in powerful Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale. He was yesterday voted out as chairman of the influential Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee. (PHOTO: FILE/ STANDARD)

Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale was yesterday voted out as chairman of the influential Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee.

Khalwale was beaten by Nyamira Senator Kennedy Mong'are who floored him by six votes to three in a secret ballot at Parliament Buildings.

Jubilee-allied senators ganged up to kick out Khalwale in a vote punctuated by claims that the Kakamega leader had trashed a pact with Kisumu's Anyang' Nyong'o to step down in his favour.

Sources in the committee said Khalwale changed his mind at the last minute in a scheme that allegedly sucked in Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang'ula. "Wetang'ula has been whipping members to vote for Khalwale. When Nyong'o realised the pact had been trashed, he began his own campaign," revealed a committee member.

The oversight committee is tasked with scrutinising the accounts of county governments.

Jubilee leaders reportedly decided to vote for Mong'are after concerns arose that both Nyong'o and Khalwale had declared interest in gubernatorial seats and could not be expected to be neutral in scrutinising accounts affecting their counties.

"Other than the confusion that had arisen from the trashing of the pact, which became an open secret in the committee last evening, members felt that both would not be neutral," added another senator.

But the tussle for the committee's leadership is far from over. Immediately after the elections, CORD accused Mong'are of betrayal by working closely with Jubilee.

Senate Minority Whip Johstone Muthama (Machakos) wrote to Speaker Ekwee Ethuro, who is also the of Rules and Business Committee chairperson, informing him that Mong'are had been de-whipped from the committee. The letter said CORD had replaced Mong'are with nominated Senator Agnes Zani.

Committee vice chairperson Hassan Omar (Mombasa) did not vie, paving the way for John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot) to be elected to the position unanimously.

Contacted, Khalwale downplayed his replacement. "This should not invoke feelings of bitterness among former and new officials. I will support the new chairman," said Khalwale after the poll.

Nyong'o walked out of the voting room moments after Omar proposed Khalwale's name for the position. Also absent was Busia Senator Amos Wako.

The Kisumu senator declined to comment on claims that Khalwale had violated their pact. "I'm sure the new team will work tirelessly to ensure accountability," he said.

Mong'are said he will sustain the momentum to bring transparency in the handling of county funds.