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Dancing too close to the sun? Duale and the curse of loyalty

By Moses Nyamori and Roselyne Obala | June 23rd 2020

Ousted National Assembly Majority Leader Adan Duale after the Budget reading on June 11. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

In 2014, a year after assuming the position of National Assembly Majority Leader, Garissa Township MP Aden Duale declared his unwavering loyalty to President Uhuru Kenyatta in an attention-grabbing way.

Duale declared he would not hesitate to jump from the top of Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) if ordered by his boss and Deputy President William Ruto.

“If Uhuru and Ruto told me to jump from the top of KICC and assure me that I will not break my leg, I will jump. I am so much indebted to these men. I can do anything for Ruto and Uhuru under the sun,” Duale then said.

Interestingly, the iconic building at the centre of the country’s capital city yesterday served as the venue to kick him out of the plum position that he has held since Jubilee came into power in 2013.

The vocal and fearless politician walked out of the building – which is one of the tallest in Nairobi – head bowed down, perhaps fearing to look at the height he had promised to go to in defending his party boss.

Although he had done everything using his powerful position to defend the Jubilee administration on the floor of the House for close to eight years, it took a 20-minute-long Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting to kick him out and have Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya take over.

It was a swift fall for a man who in 2016 boasted how being a “sycophant of the sitting president makes me have many sycophants under me”.

As the first National Assembly Majority Leader, Duale’s place in the history of post-2010 constitution House is in place, and it was a dramatic rise of a man who had only been first elected to Parliament in 2007 as ODM’s Dujis MP. In the lead-up to the 2013 elections, he aligned himself with Ruto’s United Republican Party on whose ticket he secured re-election to Parliament, and subsequent appointment to the plum House position that ranks second after the Speaker.

Duale’s term in office was marked with many successes in pushing government-sponsored Bills, some of which were controversially passed in sessions characterised by chaos and mass-walkout by then opposition under Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).

In the lead up to the October 26 repeat presidential elections, Duale rallied the Jubilee-controlled House to pass the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

The changes included a provision that if only one candidate is nominated for the presidential election, that candidate is automatically declared president-elect.

The amendments further permitted the vice chairperson or a commissioner elected by fellow commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to declare presidential results in the absence of the chairperson.

It was also through his ability to whip Jubilee members that the ruling party also pushed through the controversial Security Laws as well as Finance Bill 2018, where he staged a walkout from the chambers to deny the House the requisite two-thirds.

Both friends and critics agree that Duale excelled in executing his mandate as leader of government business in the House.

Yesterday, his successor Kimunya admitted that Duale had performed well in pushing the government agenda in the National Assembly.

“I really want to appreciate the work Duale has done. I know how committed he was to the task,” said Kimunya.

And in a series of tweets after his ouster, Duale said he was leaving with his head up as he had delivered his mandate and thanked Uhuru for trusting him with the position.

“I am particularly proud that during my service, I was also able to ensure that all the Bills for implementation of the Constitution, financial legislation to implement devolution and provide services to the people of Kenya and Bills to implement the Big Four Agenda were enacted,” said Duale.

He added: “I am glad that from 2013-2020, I was able to process the agenda of the Majority Party effectively. In particular, I oversaw the passage of over 200 Bills and 500 Motions to mention but a few. This was not an easy task, but one which required that I work with everyone, be it foe or friend, and in the end with the help of Allah, I delivered.”

Duale had also made it his duty to vilify CORD leaders, especially former prime minster Raila Odinga, just to defend the Jubilee administration.

The office created by the 2013 Constitution handed Duale trappings of power and influence that at one point he said he was in the same league with Raila and Ruto.

“My position has put me in the same league with DP William Ruto and CORD leader Raila Odinga. Those who love me do that with passion and those who hate me do it with passion. It is a price you pay when you speak your mind,” said Duale said in a 2014 interview with The Standard.

He also picked a controversial war with then Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto by telling him off in front of DP Ruto that “Hii pesa sio ya mama yako bwana. Hii pesa si ya baba yako (Public funds don’t belong to your mother or father).

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