How Duale’s attack dog job ran from him

Saturday June 27 2020

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale is pictured during a meeting at Parliament buildings on October 31, 2019. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Reports of massive job losses in newsrooms have made social media a very sad place to be for some of us lately.

You visit Facebook or Twitter and the first posts you see are by folks mourning your industry or pitying you.

You leave probably feeling like the walking dead.

Yet the situation in the newsroom isn’t that grim.

The younger colleagues who joined the newsrooms in recent years are natural creatures of disruptions and are quickly adapting to the new normal.

Even some of us who have ‘eaten salt’ in the media should be fine too. I mean, we can’t have survived the anxieties of retrenchments, separations or redundancies all these years and not developed the mental strength to cope when they come.


As a certain former editor-in-chief at a leading media house in East and Central Africa once told a post-retrenchment staff meeting, “Sometimes you are not the problem. Your job has simply run away from you”.

But I’m getting distracted.

What I had set out to write about is the political career of a very important person in Kenya who has been among the walking dead for over two years now.

Aden Duale sadly lost his position as National Assembly majority leader last week, becoming perhaps the most high-profile casualty of the purge in the ruling Jubilee Party.

For weeks, Mr Duale’s House leadership job became a matter of public debate amid media reports of his impending sacking and petitions to President Uhuru Kenyatta to spare the Garissa Township MP.

Although he has in the past spoken about the wisdom of ‘not personalising positions’, his body language and public pronouncements before and after last Monday’s parliamentary group meeting suggest that he wasn’t quite prepared for his ouster.

TV footage showing Mr Duale just standing there while leaders from his clan pleaded with the President to have mercy on their son was very touching.

Lengthy statements posted on social media about his lofty achievements as the first National Assembly majority leader under the 2010 Constitution reveal the vulnerabilities of a man overrating his talents and struggling to accept the fact that he outlived his usefulness.

Most of the achievements he has listed on his scorecard, including passage of government bills, were down to Jubilee having a large majority in Parliament and a conformist Speaker.

They cannot be attributed to any special personal skills Mr Duale claims to have.

Like other Jubilee hawks who built their political careers around the President’s adversarial relationship with ODM leader Raila Odinga, Mr Duale’s real job as an attack dog in and out of Parliament was always going to run away from him after the Handshake.

That means that Mr Duale & Co have been fairly idle since March 9, 2018 when Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga called a truce. It was only a matter of time before their roles were declared redundant.

[email protected]; @otienootieno