MPs who did not agree with their party leaders’ nominees to the Parliamentary Service Commission scored a major victory on Thursday morning after they managed to stop the National Assembly’s approval of the names.
Speaker Justin Muturi suspended debate on the motion to approve the seven nominees and asked the National Super Alliance to consult and decide on its nominees.
After reading the mood of the MPs, he also ruled that MPs would have to approve the nominees individually. This gives them the opportunity to reject their party leaders’ nominees.
“In the circumstances and in fairness, I will suspend debate on this motion, allow the coalition known as Nasa (to) sit as a coalition and give me your names of nominees to the Parliamentary Service Commission,” said Mr Muturi.
He said that because Wiper is a parliamentary party, he would require a letter from its “top leadership” stating whether it agrees with the list provided by Nasa.
Mr Muturi said the letters should come from the coalition’s decision-making organ.
“We don’t want communication from executive directors or such. You have leaders from these parties. Let them write jointly,” he said.
Mr Muturi diffused a situation that looked certain to end in rejection of the seven-member list.
Positions on the commission that runs Parliament are considered plum because commissioners influence employment, watch over a large budget, enjoy a sitting allowance of Sh40,000, official cars, an office and staff.
Before debate on the motion could be initiated, Wiper MPs Daniel Maanzo and Ben Momanyi sought to have it stopped on the basis that it was not in line with the Constitution.
Mr Maanzo’s question was whether it was right to name to the commission people who had served on it before, given that with independent commissioners, the term is not renewable.
Mr Muturi said that there was nothing wrong with that as the PSC is a unique commission.
With the legal issue dealt with, the political one came up, with Kangema MP Muturi Kigano clothing it as a legal one and citing the Constitution.
“My understanding is that Wiper did not contribute to the commission and has not nominated anyone. If it is a parliamentary party and it has not made a nomination, that nomination must be vitiated,” said Mr Kigano.
Mr Momanyi had brought the matter up on Wednesday and was on Thursday armed with a letter from Wiper, copied to the Speaker, contesting the nominees’ list sent by Nasa.
Minority Whip Junet Mohammed sought to salvage the situation by arguing that the best way to address Wiper’s concern would be to take it back to the coalition rather than have the Speaker make a decision.
“This matter should be referred back to the coalition. The complaints. Not the names. The names stand. We cannot withdraw the motion,” he said.
But Nasa’s woes piled when Kajiado Central MP Elijah Memusi also joined the list of opposers. Mr Memusi argued that marginalised communities had been left out.
“My name was Number One on the list only to be removed hours later,” said Mr Memusi of the list submitted and withdrawn last week.
He also spoke for MPs who don’t want those who were in the PSC in the past to return to the commission.
“Those who served in the last Parliamentary Service Commission have left members vulnerable. They have left members as beggars,” he said.
Majority Leader Aden Duale used the opportunity to score political points. He brushed aside the suggestion that Jubilee should not have an interest in Nasa’s woes.
“This is a House of politics and in politics, you must do political craftsmanship. I’m going to defend Wiper because the party leader is away and this afternoon we are going to elect his son to the East African Legislative Assembly,” he said.
MPs made their sentiments known when he read out the name of the nominees.
Some shouted, ‘No’ when Dr Naomi Shaban (Taveta), Adan Keynan (Eldas) and Beth Mugo (Nominated Senator) were named and then ‘Yes’ when Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho Senator) was named Jubilee’s fourth nominee.
The Nasa nominees received mixed reactions. They are: Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay, ODM), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi, ODM) and George Khaniri (Vihiga Senator, ANC).