In an indepth year-end interview with the Sunday Nation, Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Adan Duale talks freely about hot-button issues of the year such as the Building Bridges Initiative, how he helped propel Uhuru to power in 2013 despite opposition from State House mandarins, and ODM’s decision to drop its demand for a powerful Prime Minister.
What is your view on the BBI report and the extension of the task force’s term by the President?
Jubilee Party, from President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and the rank and file of our party supporters, is wholly behind the recommendations of the BBI.
However, I am sceptical about what BBI II is going to add to this document. The only thing the BBI report left out was the inclusion of change of governance structure from a presidential to a parliamentary system.
I think the President must have heard the cries of the proponents of the parliamentary system, both from inside his party, led by me, and outside our party, led by his handshake partner Raila Odinga.
In BBI II, we expect not to be short-changed by the beneficiaries – both politically and economically – of a presidential system.
Since Independence 56 years ago, only two communities have produced a president. When will the rest of us get the opportunity to lead this nation?
Therefore BBI II can only recommend a parliamentary system where the contests will be in the constituencies, where the Supreme Court or Bomas (of Kenya) become irrelevant in making crucial political decisions.
When a party or a coalition of parties can form government, political and economic power will be shared horizontally across all communities and all regions. This will end divisive elections.
What do you make of ODM’s decision to drop their long-held demand for a powerful prime minister?
ODM, and those of us who believe in a parliamentary system, have been duped since the 2005 referendum. For long, they have advocated a parliamentary system where the Executive is led by a powerful prime minister who is accountable to the people through elected representatives.
Now they have chickened out of their historical ideology since they have realised that there is nothing called a powerful prime minister in a presidential system. You cannot have both of them at the same time.
I think ODM has not recovered from the Grand Coalition hangover where they know they cannot win an election on their own but want to run government through a mongrel such as the grand coalition. This is a recipe for chaos.
In your view, what would be the best way to implement the BBI recommendations?
Political, economic and social reforms can take place through either parliamentary initiative or popular initiative. It’s better as a country we make a decision through the people early enough; whether we want a referendum, and start collecting one million signatures from January, or form a parliamentary bipartisan caucus to kick off the a parliamentary initiative. We in Jubilee have a social contract with the people of Kenya to deliver the Big Four Agenda on roads, electricity health, education and other social programmes. The decisions we make will impact on our ability to deliver on them on time.
Therefore, I would like to advise the President that you must protect your legacy as your term comes to an end. That’s what you will be remembered for.
Do you think the “handshake” is part of the President’s legacy?
I don’t think that the genesis of the handshake, following protracted divisive elections with ethnic tensions, was to unite the country politically and socially.
I had hoped that the handshake would set the stage for national reconciliation, connect all bridges of political, ethnic and regional diversity, and create a national ethos. But I am very sad that the handshake has done the opposite.
It has destroyed Jubilee’s internal political bridges, destabilised our party’s political strongholds, undermined the constitutional office holders, and has killed Nasa (National Super Alliance) bridges.
It has sowed seeds of discord, caused confusion and political tensions that have seen the emergence of political gangs, abuse of the rule of law by civil servants and disenfranchisement of communities.
Mr President, you meant well in the interest of the country and the unity of our people to embrace the handshake, but it has left your party, supporters and Kenya more divided than ever.
This I am saying to you as your friend, as my boss, and as a person who is really proud of your achievements since you were first elected President in 2013.
Are you confident Jubilee Party will survive the current internal strife up to the next general elections?
Jubilee is one of the biggest political parties in Africa, with a majority in the Senate and the National Assembly. We are still united under the leadership of the President despite what the media and other prophets of doom are saying.
We are firmly on course to deliver on our manifesto. Next year, we will start to revamp all our party structures for 2022.
What do you think of the Conflict of Interest Bill that is being worked on by the Attorney General and which will affect many sitting MPs and Senators?
Conflict of interest is a monster. I am shocked that it’s coming now. Since I joined Parliament in 2007, MPs have been representing persons and institutions in court. For example, all the legal teams in the 2013 and 2017 presidential election petitions had MPs in them, from both Jubilee and the opposition.
But I am eager to receive the bill from AG’s office on behalf of Jubilee government and introduce it for debate in the National Assembly. It will be given due consideration and public participation.
As MP for Garissa Township, I support that when you become a state or public officer you declare your conflict of interest. For example, if I am an MP and participate in the vetting of commissioners of independent offices, then I cannot represent the same commissioners in court when they have issues.
But let me be clear that conflict of interest is not limited to MPs who are lawyers. All MPs have career and business backgrounds, which they established over the years before coming to Parliament, and are therefore conflicted in one way or the other. The same applies for state officers within the Executive and Judiciary.
Is it true that the relationship between the President and DP Ruto is irretrievably broken down as it is widely speculated?
The President and the DP have a very long political relationship, going back to their Kanu days. Despite the political musical chairs that are common during a transition period, like now, the relationship between our two leaders, speaking as an insider, is stronger than ever.
But just like all governments from the times of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Mzee Moi and Mzee Kibaki, and during Uhuru’s first term, there are always greedy, selfish individuals and bureaucrats who always think they can manage succession. I dare tell them to read history and more so of 2013 when Musalia Mudavadi was made our presidential candidate for 48 hours by some technocrats.
This was reversed through the influence of strong political allies of Uhuru, including me, former Kiambu County Governor (William) Kabogo and (MPs) Cecily Mbarire, Rachel Shebesh, Kareke Mbiuki, and Mithika Linturi who changed the course of the river back to Uhuru because we trusted his leadership, and secondly, we wanted to save him and the DP from the ICC (International Criminal Court).
Do you care to elaborate on the role you might have played in convincing President Kenyatta to drop his support for Mr Mudavadi for the presidency in 2013?
Sure. The powerful bureaucrats of the time included Director General of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) Maj Gen (Rtd) Michael Gichangi, Chief of Defence Forces Gen (Rtd) Julius Karangi, Prof Nick Wanjohi (President Mwai Kibaki’s former private secretary), Ambassador (Francis) Muthaura and MPs Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri) and Jeremiah Kioni (Ndaragwa).
This group somehow managed to convince both Uhuru and Ruto that it was not in their best interests to take leadership. But we – my colleagues whom I mentioned earlier and I – firmly rejected this notion and convinced the two to have their names on the ballot, and we were vindicated in our resolve when they won the presidency.
Do you think the President will support the DP’s candidature in 2022?
I have not heard the President renounce the many pledges he made in public to support the DP, and so I am sure and confident that he will fulfil that promise when the time comes. However, I am telling the few bureaucrats in the Jubilee government that they cannot stop our political succession plan.
Those of us who are men of honour, integrity and fear God will stand with the DP to be the fifth president of Kenya. He has all the necessary qualities despite the assembling of election losers and political rejects – who are owned and financed by taxpayers through the said government bureaucrats – against him.