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Curious case of Senate's missing chair

By Brian Otieno | July 26th 2020



Senators have been bursting with energy and this week they put it to good use by playing hide-and-seek.

The game was an easy pick given the many years politicians spend honing the disappearing craft. As expected, Wanjiku wasn’t invited to the waheshimiwa-only affair.

On Thursday, Speaker Kenneth Lusaka broke a promise he made to Vihiga Senator George Khaniri regarding debate on a proposed county revenue-sharing formula.

On Tuesday, a wary Khaniri had asked why the motion was not listed on the order paper prompting Lusaka to give an assurance that the matter would be debated.

Indeed, Leader of Majority Samuel Poghisio had requested Thursday’s sitting so that senators could finally dispense with the matter after three false starts.

Come Thursday and the motion's mover, Finance Committee chair Charles Kibiru was nowhere to be seen, sparking suspicions that one side was more interested in playing games than finding solutions.

But who could blame Kibiru? A defeat would surely have earned his team a proper scolding. No points guessing why the legislators do not play such games when discussing their salary increments.

A fortnight ago, Minority Leader James Orengo sought an adjournment of a similar session to allow for further consultation.

The path of honest dialogue, however, seems foreign to a House obsessed with whipping and bullying its way through debates in pursuit of what is little more than arm-twisted consensus.

Even as Lusaka broke the hearts of senators who had shown up to kill the proposal, he sought to distance himself from any schemes to stall the day's proceedings.

"I want to ask the chairperson of the committee to hasten this process because it is taking exceedingly long. He must provide leadership,” Lusaka said.

Detractors of the new proposal, however, read mischief when the Speaker abruptly adjourned the special sitting.

“Shame! Shame!” the lawmakers chanted in unison as Lusaka exited the House.

The senators later took to social media where they issued impeachment threats, which, too, will undoubtedly be broken.

For the past two years, senators in the ruling party and their minority colleagues have been entangled in a political marriage of convenience that looked unshakable.

This prompted accusations that the opposition had been turned into the government's lapdog.

But the honeymoon looks to have hit the rocks after the Commission on Revenue Allocation released a report on how the 47 counties will share a Sh316 billion pie, which has proved unpalatable to senators whose counties will get thinner slices.

The counties that are expected to lose billions of shillings are in favour of the current formula - the second basis for revenue sharing - that, in essence, prioritises landmass over population in the distribution of the country's largesse.

The leaders are now pulling furiously at the shrinking blanket of financial security because nobody wants to be exposed to the electorates' cold decision-making so close to the next General Election.

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