Thursday, March 28, 2013

Senate Speaker a stickler for procedure

William Oeri  | Nation Mr Ekwee Ethuro, the new Speaker of the Senate,  takes the oath of office at KICC

William Oeri | Nation Mr Ekwee Ethuro, the new Speaker of the Senate, takes the oath of office at KICC  

By CAROLINE WAFULA [email protected]

He is a permanent feature in virtually all critical committees of Parliament and matters of the House.

David Ekwee Ethuro, 49, has steered the proceedings of Parliament in the position of acting Speaker of the House whenever the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were absent.

A stickler for parliamentary rules and procedures in House debates, he has been able to serve in this position by virtue of his membership of the Speaker’s Panel, a parliamentary committee whose members step in to act on behalf of the Speaker.

Born on December 31, 1963, Mr Ethuro was first elected to Parliament as the Member for Turkana Central in the 1997 General Election, and has been re-elected three times, consecutively.
President Moi

He served as the assistant minister for Planning and National Development between 1998 and 2002 under President Moi’s Government, an appointment that came immediately after his first election to Parliament.

That he is a popular member of the Speaker’s committee is not in doubt, judging by the support he gets from his colleagues. A case in point is when the Speaker left the seat and called out Mr Philip Kaloki, another member of the panel to temporarily take over; members instead started shouting Mr Ethuro’s name. He ended taking over.

Apart from the acting Speaker’s position, Mr Ethuro’s face and voice has also prominently featured in critical Parliamentary Select Committees of the House, top among them the Committees on the Constitution, the Budget Committee which has been instrumental in putting the Executive to account in fiscal matters and the Constituency Development Fund Committee.

He is among key members of Parliament that actively and successfully mid-wifed the Constitution, and served as a member of the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee.

He is also a force to reckon with in matters of constituency development. He has served as the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on CDF for the past two terms of Parliament.

He received immense support from MPs on matters of CDF, especially whenever the committee intervened to push for release of CDF funds and on issues of its management.

Mr Ethuro is also remembered for his active role in the Amani Forum — a Great Lakes regional parliamentary peace initiative that mobilised MPs and involved them in peace forums following the 2007 post-election violence and stalemate that came about from the presidential election result, which was disputed by ODM.

As the chairman of the forum, and with the facilitation of Parliament, he convened an urgent meeting of MPs and dispatched various teams to the grassroots to preach peace, an initiative that contributed to calming down the political temperatures at the time.

He has also served as a member of the Procedures Committee, which deals with the Standing Orders of Parliament.

The Alliance High School alumnus holds an MSc degree from the Clemson University, and a BSc degree from the University of Nairobi. He attended secondary school at Lodwar High School between 1978 and 1981.

Before joining Parliament, Mr Ethuro, an ardent soccer lover and member of the Bunge FC team, served as a deputy country representative for Oxfam (UK+1) and as a research scientist for the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute.

An ardent champion for minority rights, he cites economic development, poverty and hunger reduction, minorities and marginalisation as his key areas of interest. He also emphasises the need for a peaceful, united and prosperous Kenya.

He has served in the select committee on IDP resettlement and also as a member of the Cattle Rustling Committee and the Committee on Unlawful Organisations. He has been the secretary-general of the Pastoralists Parliamentary Group.

Mr Ethuro and former Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi are the only two male members who served in the Kenya Women Parliamentarians Association — Kewopa, an association for female MPs.

The two were instrumental in the successful push for the Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Bill, which they introduced in Parliament on behalf of Kewopa.

Mr Ethuro’s services were recognised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union alongside Mr Gitobu Imanyara in 2010 when they were engaged as local experts in the regional parliaments.

He was the front-runner for the Speaker’s seat in the Jubilee Coalition.

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