The push to clear hurdles for constitutional reforms is at the heart of the ongoing ruthless purge in Parliament, The Standard has established.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga are said to be keen to take control of both the National Assembly and the Senate from Deputy President William Ruto – who is against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Pro-handshake MPs have reportedly been instructed to vote out committee chairpersons allied to Ruto in the radical reorganisation of committees set to begin next Tuesday when National Assembly resumes.
“We are going to unite in kicking out all non-aligned committee chairpersons and have them replaced,” National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed said yesterday.
The aim is to take House leadership positions and committees critical to the constitution making process, especially Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, Committee on Delegated Legislation and Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) ahead of the 2022 General Election.
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In the horse trading, sources said NASA had been promised leadership of four committees in the Senate.
After meeting women leaders at his Capitol Hill office last Wednesday, Raila disclosed that the drafting of the report was at the final stages.
“The drafting of the final BBI document is at an advanced stage. We want all the issues raised by the women leaders captured in the final report,” he said.
Siaya Senator James Orengo, who is also a close ally of the ODM leader, on Friday dropped the bombshell when he revealed that Parliament will play a critical role in the coming months to implement the BBI report.
“This Parliament – I know – is going to be required to play a very critical role in the next two or three months. When there is constitution making or reforms, Parliament must be at the centre of it. And we must be together as Kenyans in this great quest to make Kenya better,” said Orengo during the impeachment Motion against Senator Kindiki Kithure as deputy speaker.
Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu yesterday said there was no way committees critical for the BBI process will be left in the hands of people who have publicly declared their opposition to the initiative.
“There is no way we are going to allow people opposed to the BBI to continue heading the committees that are instrumental for the initiative,” said Ngunjiri.
The Justice committee is currently chaired by Baringo North MP William Cheptumo and Kandara MP Alice Wahome as vice chair while CIOC and Committee on Delegated Committee are chaired by Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni and Gladys Shollei (Uasin Gishu) respectively. Some of the four MPs are Ruto allies.
Both Jubilee and NASA have planned Parliamentary Group meetings ahead of resumption of the National Assembly’s sittings. The separate meetings on Thursday for NASA and Jubilee’s on June 2 are set to endorse various changes in the House leadership as well as committees.
Jubilee targets to kick out Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali (Mumias East), nominated MP Cecily Mbarire (Deputy Whip) and a host of committee chairpersons. Sources indicated that discussions were ongoing as to whether the ruling party should spare Majority Leader Aden Duale or replace him.
Officials pushing to have Duale out seek to replace him with Adan Keynan (Aldas) while the Majority Whip could go to either Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo) or Joshua Kutuny (Cherangani).
Budget and Appropriation Committee chair Kimani Ichung’wa could lose the seat to his Limuru counterpart Peter Mwathi while Cheptumo could lose JLAIC chair to Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo (ODM).
Fierce Ruto critic and Moiben MP Silas Tiren has been earmarked to replace Adan Haji (Mandera South) as Agriculture Committee chair while Education chair Julius Melly could be replaced by Baringo Woman Rep Gladwell Cheruiyot (Kanu).
Also the Deputy Majority Whip post held by Mbarire is likely to be taken by Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni wa Muchomba, while Transport committee chair David Pkosing could be replaced by Tiaty MP William Kamket.
“The technical team working on the changes are focused on the House leadership before extending it to the committees. The Kieleweka team, who are set to take up the leadership positions, are not comfortable with Duale holding the Majority Leader position. He might frustrate them,” said an MP aware of the plans.
Yesterday, Jubilee Party Secretary Raphael Tuju said there would be no sparing of any member who has shown signs of disloyalty to the party and its leader Uhuru.
“We are not in the business of just issuing threats to people. There is no turning back on the matter of disloyal members. How do you punish some disloyal members but spare others,” Tuju posed.
He said Senators Millicent Omanga, Falhada Iman, Naomi Waqo, Victor Prengei and Mary Seneta will still have to appear before the party’s disciplinary committee even after they shifted alliance and backed the impeachment of Kindiki.
“They still have to appear before the disciplinary committee. If they have any mitigation, it’s the committee to make a decision about their case,” he added.
In the Minority coalition, Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa is set to lose his Minority Whip position. Orange party chairman and National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi confirmed that members of the coalition were uncomfortable with Wamalwa holding the position over claims of political links with Ruto.
ODM is further planning to revive plans to remove rebel Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa from the powerful Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) for associating herself with the Tangatanga camp.
“Minority Whip and I will on Tuesday meet to review our membership in various committees before we can have a Parliamentary Group meeting on Thursday,” said Mbadi.
“We are planning to make one or two changes in the minority leadership. There are issues around Chris Wamalwa that we need to resolve during that PG. We also have members who have been disloyal to the coalition,” said Mbadi.
Junet confirmed that the coalition will also kick out some non-coalition members who were given committee slots courtesy of NASA but have decided to support the DP.
“Homeless people like Sylvanus Osoro (KNC) were slotted in various committees by NASA but they have gone astray. We will kick them out of the committees so that they can stay out for six months,” said Junet.
He claimed that Wamalwa had become a known Tangatanga supporter and cannot continue pushing for the interest of the Minority coalition.
Others to be kicked out of parliamentary committees are Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma Woman Rep), Bady Twalib (Jomvu) and Tindi Mwale (Butere).