MPs protest as high-handedness seeps into Jubilee

Sunday February 25 2018

JUBILEE PARTY

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale addresses guests during the 23rd Annual Prize-Giving Day at Nairobi Muslim Academy on February 24, 2018. Jubilee MPs are protesting against overbearing leadership. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION TEAM
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Ahead of the vote on the list of Parliamentary Service Commission in the National Assembly on Thursday, Majority Leader Aden Duale sent a text to Jubilee lawmakers informing them that they were required in the House.

They were also to bring their electronic voting cards.

Other than making voting easier, the electronic card was to serve an even more important role — monitor how Jubilee MPs voted in the event the motion necessitated casting a ballot.

A majority of Jubilee MPs did not want Nominated Senator Beth Mugo and Eldas MP Adan Keynan on the PSC because, they claimed, the two were personalising the commission with their long tenure, but the Executive in the end had its way.

And that illustrated the gathering storm within Jubilee over what insiders say is a quickly shrinking room for divergence as President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto move to assert their authority.

DICTATORSHIP
Though the mandate of the party MPs involves legislation, representation, oversight and budget-making, several lawmakers who spoke to the Nation protested that every decision relating to their work was being made at higher levels and passed down to them for rubber-stamping and implementation.

The PSC elections presented MPs with a chance to free Parliament from the claws of State House, but they had neither the temerity nor the numbers to make a statement.

Mr Keynan has served on the commission since 2008 and Ms Mugo since 2013.

Jubilee MPs felt the two should have been kicked out alongside Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga of the Orange Democratic Movement.

“What justification was there to reject Wanga and leave Keynan, who has personalised the commission?” an MP told the Nation.

Other testing events were the recent elections of chairs of various committees in the National Assembly and the Senate where line-ups were fashioned at State House and pushed down the throats of MPs.

ALFRED KETER
Those who went against the grain and contested the seats — among them Mr Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Mr Silas Tiren (Moiben), Mr Mwangi Gakuya (Embakasi North) and Mr Kangogo Bowen (Marakwet East) — were de-whipped even before chairing any meeting.

Similarly, Jubilee MPs have been getting dress-downs whenever they attend parliamentary group meetings at State House.

The latest, where a majority of the ruling party lawmakers failed to attend, is said to have been even more embarrassing.

As an indicator of the stranglehold on Parliament, many of the MPs who spoke to the Nation sought anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Such conspiracy of silence, whether ordered or willingly adopted, is the dilemma facing Jubilee lawmakers.

BEIJING INFLUENCE

A few, like Mr Keter, spoke to us on Sunday on record, expressed disgust in the manner the party leadership was handling MPs.

“Jubilee should re-examine its engagement with the Communist Party of China so that we don’t fall into the trap of dismembering our democratic space,” Mr Keter said, referring to recent dalliance between Nairobi and Beijing.

“From the recent developments, it is clear that communist tendencies are being introduced in our system at an alarming rate.”

DEMOCRACY
The second term MP named the gagging and muzzling of the media, attacks on the Judiciary, failure by the Executive to respect court orders, MPs not being allowed to express themselves freely and attempts to deregister civil society organisations as signs of a budding communist state.

He also listed the use of police to suppress voices of reason through arbitrary arrests and detentions beyond the constitutional limit as other pointers to dictatorship.

“Because of a Jubilee majority, this Parliament is no longer independent.

"Members are scared of contributing to critical issues like corruption and the government’s insatiable appetite for loans, lest they are branded rebels,” Mr Keter added.

Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto, now serving his fourth term, also criticised the party leadership.

“We were elected to represent the people’s interests without fear or intimidation,” Mr Moroto said.

“Although the Jubilee leadership may have an interest in an issue, it should not manipulate MPs or interfere with their work.”

NASA
National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi said he sympathised with his colleagues in Jubilee and asked them to cross to the opposition.

“There is space in the National Super Alliance. It is the only coalition where members openly disagree with their leaders without being summoned for a dress-down or threats,” Mr Mbadi said on Thursday afternoon, soon after Borabu MP Ben Momanyi forced his way into PSC with the support of Jubilee lawmakers.

“Mr Momanyi will never be summoned nor de-whipped from House committees.”

Mr Moroto said Jubilee’s overbearing attitude had made MPs go mute on important issues.

“Young people in my area have never been paid for the services they rendered to the National Youth Service.

"Unfortunately, whenever I try to raise the issue with the chairman of the relevant committee of the National Assembly he catches a cold,” the Kapenguria MP said.

Reporting by David Mwere, Ibrahim Oruko, Ruth Mbula and Eric Matara