Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka has thrown his weight behind President William Ruto’s proposal for the creation of the position of the official opposition leader.
In December last year, President Ruto forwarded a memorandum to Parliament urging MPs to amend Chapter 9 of the Constitution to create the Office of the Official Leader of the Opposition.
He argued that re-introduction of the role of the official Opposition leader would not only keep his administration in check, but also institutionalise governance, strengthen oversight and deepen democracy.
Azimio la Umoja coalition party leader Raila Odinga however warned that he would not be quick to support the proposed law, noting that his outfit would first examine the contents of Bill and reject it if it was an affront to the Constitution.
But in an exclusive interview with The Standard yesterday, former the Wiper leader supported the move saying it would entrench democracy.
“I agree with William Ruto that we should have an Opposition and government side. If the Bill for the creation of the opposition leader was done in good faith, I support it. He should however bring it as a separate issue and not put it together with other proposals,” said Kalonzo.
He also poured cold water on claims that he had been approached by President Ruto to join Kenya Kwanza administration in any capacity.
“The president is clear that there will be no handshake and that he wants an official Opposition that will oversight the government side,” said Kalonzo. “I have not been approached and that’s fine. I am in the opposition. The issue is not Kalonzo Musyoka but this country.”
Ruto – who had also sought that Parliamentary Standing Orders be amended to allow Cabinet Secretaries to attend plenary sittings and urged Parliament to restructure the law on gender equality so as to ensure more female MPs are nominated ho both Houses - defended the proposals terming them crucial in ensuring a robust checks and balances system.
The Wiper Party leader, however, has his sights trained on the 2027 presidential contest and is on a war footing. He says he will be on the ballot five years from now but he is still holding consultations with his party.
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“My candidature will be a product of consultations as was the case in 2022. Should the party members give me the mandate to vie for the presidency then I will fight harder than I ever have,” said Kalonzo.
His views, he says, have however not stopped his supporters from amplifying calls for his presidency in the foreseeable future.
“There are people expressing different opinions including some leaders in my party but I ask them to be patient. This is a matter that needs to be approached at the right time. The emphasis should be feeling our people and parents taking their children to school,” he said.
And on the future of the Azimio coalition party, he insisted it is not bleak despite the mass defections by MPs to the Kenya Kwanza fold and the alleged exit of former President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Having had a face-to-face conversation with the former Head of State, Kalonzo disparaged reports of Uhuru’s impending exit from the chairmanship of the Azimio council.
According to Section 6 (1) of the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act, 2003, a retired president “shall not hold office in any political party for more than six months after ceasing to hold office.”
But Kalonzo believes Uhuru is going nowhere: “We as Azimio’s top leadership have not been briefed that Uhuru is relinquishing his position as chair of the council. I have directly asked him that question and he asked me to ignore such reports.”
Should the former president leave the position, coalition leader Raila Odinga is expected to take over or supervise the appointment of a new chair.
Kalonzo also expressed his displeasure at the performance of Kenya Kwanza administration in its first four months, giving it a score of 2 out of 10.
He faulted President Ruto for the appointment of six judges rejected by former President Uhuru saying he (Ruto) should have put into consideration the reasons for their rejection.
He poked holes into the administration’s plan to lower the cost of living further noting that the government had no clear plan for improving the education sector.
“The Kenya Kwanza government is off to a bad start. No one for instance seems to know where they will get land to build additional classes to accommodate children under the CBC education system,” he said.