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Bunge Chronicles: Super Sakaja's dreamy week ends on a low

By Brian Otieno | August 1st 2021
Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja makes a speech at St Cecilia Catholic Church in Njambini, Nyandarua County on July 25, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard].

Johnson Sakaja would have loved to end his week feeling super as many out here claim him to be – chest up, shoulders swaying, proving to the world that he was not your typical mhesh.

But all the senator had up on Thursday’s sitting of Senate was his voice, protesting what most of his colleagues seemingly agreed was under par performance.

The Nairobi senator had a dreamy start to the week, being man of the moment on Senate’s weekly session of self-praise, in which senators pile platitudes on a colleague they deem to have outdone themselves.

In such cases, the mhesh receiving all the worn-out praise had previously come up with some brilliant Bill that seemed alien. Mostly, however, they just thought of a question that no one imagined could be asked.

That was Sakaja on Tuesday, during the debate of his StartUps Bill that his fellow wahesh hailed as the silver bullet to all challenges facing young Kenyans.

But on Thursday, his fortunes turned as he tabled a report on a human resource issue raised by Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo last year. The Ewaso Nyiro Development Authority had fired 56 employees, and some decided to see if senators were any good, and reached out to the Isiolo senator.

Sakaja chairs the Committee on Labour and Social Welfare. So it is his job to find out why people in different places had been hired or fired, but only if the matter reaches the floor of Bunge.

According to Sakaja, his committee did its job diligently, investigating the matter and writing a report on their findings. But almost everyone who spoke thought that Sakaja’s committee was taking senators and the aggrieved Kenyans for a ride.

“When we bring statements in this House, we normally look for a remedy,” Dullo began, a prelude to the backlash that awaited Sakaja, who incessantly insisted that none of his colleagues had read the report.

“Why jump the gun and speak about things you have not even read… give them time to read the report,” Sakaja pleaded with Deputy Speaker Margaret Kamar, dejection stamped on his face.

The Nairobi senator would have had the chance to make his case had a member of his committee, Kilifi’s Stewart Madzayo, not arisen to claim that their report was wishy-washy.

Kamati inaosha mikono kama ile korti ya Bibilia ya Pontius Pilate,” remarked Madzayo, saying his committee had failed to come up with solutions for some of the employees who were fired “contrary to the law”.

More senators joined in, including Sakaja’s favourite TV partner. “Aai!” Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr reacted to the report. “This report is terrible!”

In the end, Sakaja lectured his colleagues on what his report said. Despite that, the Deputy Speaker directed the Labour Committee to “fill in the gaps in its report”.


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