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Removal of Ruto allies dictatorial, says Justin Muturi

By Brian Otieno | September 16th 2021

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi during an interview at The Standard Group on September 15, 2021. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has faulted the Jubilee Party for the purge on rebel lawmakers last year.

In an interview with The Standard yesterday, Muturi termed the ouster of a section of legislators allied to the Deputy President William Ruto from House leadership and committees as “dictatorial”.

This is the first time the Speaker is publicly commenting on the matter, though he communicated some of the leadership changes.

He said the purge for failure to toe the party line affected discharge of legislative mandate and infringed on the right of members to fair treatment.

“A party should write to the member and notify the Speaker, then give the member a chance to defend themselves. You don’t just wake up and say ‘we are throwing you out. You are out in the cold.’ That is dictatorship,” said Muturi.

The purge started in the Senate, where Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki was ousted as Deputy Speaker and replaced by Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar.

Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo/Marakwet) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru) were replaced by senators Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot) and Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a) as Majority Leader and Majority Whip respectively. Kang’ata was later kicked out and replaced by Kimani Wamatangi of Kiambu.

In the National Assembly, Garissa Township MP Aden Duale was ousted as the Majority Leader and replaced by his Kipipiri counterpart Amos Kimunya.

The Mumias East MP Bernard Washiali was replaced by Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe as Majority Whip and Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire replaced by Igembe North MP Maoka Maore as deputy Majority Whip.

Several lawmakers were also ejected as chairpersons of parliamentary committees.

The Jubilee Party extended the ‘clean up’ to six Nominated Senators. However, the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal annulled the expulsion of five, but upheld a decision to expel Isaac Mwaura. 

Raila Odinga’s ODM party also disciplined legislators perceived to be against the Building Bridges Initiative.

Yesterday, Muturi argued that party weaknesses make them operate on the whims of individuals, locking out the views of other members.

“In Kenya, we want political parties but we don’t quite believe in them. We believe so much in coercion and dictatorship. We don’t have proper, functioning political parties where members are freely allowed to express themselves,” he said, proposing that parties have weekly caucuses to develop their positions on issues scheduled in Parliament.

The Speaker was responding to questions on the capture of the Parliament, making it subservient to the Executive, among other issues.

On allegations that some committee members take bribes to influence reports, he said skewed procedure of voting by plenary had let corrupt MPs walk scot-free.

“If I take evidence – I take time to evaluate it – then you take it to the floor of the House and it is thrown out on the basis of numbers,” he said, calling for reforms that would allow action against lawmakers implicated in corruption.

He proposed a change in law to have reports of the Powers and Privileges Committee “be acted upon before debate or remove the Speaker from being a chair.”

Muturi also denied claims that he was angling to be Ruto’s running mate. “The issue of being a running-mate is rumours from the ever-active political commentators,” he said, adding that he was firmly in the presidential race and would declare his political vehicle soon.

He pledged to fight corruption by facilitating scrutiny of public officers. “Our main problem is governance. Some of the things we see are not out of the people’s ingenuity or industry, it is out of them being greedy,” he added.

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