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Motion on embattled county boss exposes partisan politics in Senate

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen saw his proposal for an 11-member select committee to probe former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu rejected in the Senate. [File, Standard]

The battle to save or sink beleaguered Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has exposed the partisan politics fueled by Jubilee's Kieleweke and Tangatanga factions. 

Senators from the two rival factions have openly pushed for either an 11-member select committee or plenary routes when it suits their interest.

In the current bid to oust Waiguru, the Tangatanga senators, who rooted for the select committee in the case of former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, made a U-turn to back plenary.

At the same time, Kieleweke lawmakers, who pushed for the plenary then, are now vouching for the committee path, which, it was said, could easily be compromised on account of its numbers.

It is on this basis that senators keen on saving a county boss always pull all the stop to have a committee hearing instead of plenary that is credited for having sent Waititu home.

In the Waititu case, senators from President Uhuru’s backyard led a revolt to reject an 11-member select committee proposed by then Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen.

Proposed committee

The Kieleweke-leaning senators had opposed the proposed committee from the word go, winning the support of their NASA counterparts to decide the governor’s case at the plenary.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja – a perceived Kieleweke – then opposed the committee route, arguing that the fate of millions of Kiambu residents could not be decided by 11 members.

“The past impeachments have left Kenyans asking if Senate is acting in full support of devolution as it should. We are 11 members in the committee, but, in essence, only six people will be required to prosecute. That is not fair to the people of Kiambu and the delegations that we have in this House,” Sakaja said then.

In the Waiguru case, Kirinyaga MPs, some avowed Deputy President William Ruto allies, have publicly declared their opposition against taking the committee route.

Led by Woman Rep Purity Ngirici, the MPs said they would settle for nothing but plenary.

Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) had in a previous interview maintained that the Business Committee had remained consistent in its recommendation of setting up a select committee like in the case of Waititu.

He said it was members who always flipped it the other way.

“The work of the Senate is done through 18 committees and, where necessary, ad hoc committees, like the case of Solai dam, maize scandal, and the current one of medical equipment scheme. The decision is ultimately the members'. There is no one size-fits-all framework in these processes,” said Kilonzo Jnr.

“Needless to say, the committees have in the past produced detailed reports that we make reference to, unlike the plenary session, which has no report.”

His Bungoma counterpart Moses Wetang'ula also rooted for the plenary session to probe the allegations against Waiguru, arguing that the process was more transparent and less susceptible to manipulation. 

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