The purge in Jubilee Party has pushed the Opposition to rein in errant members and at the same time angle for spoils from the fallout.
Raila Odinga’s ODM Party will lead other political parties in the Nasa coalition in a parliamentary group meeting (PGM) of the National Assembly, on Thursday, where the composition of House committees, their reorganisation and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) will be on the agenda.
The Nation has learnt that the meeting should have been held as early as today, but it had to be pushed back because of the strict requirements for meetings during this time of Covid-19.
Minority leader John Mbadi told the Nation that they had secured a venue that can accommodate the large number of MPs expected.
“These are difficult times and holding a meeting of such magnitude is a cautious process,” Mr Mbadi said Monday, confirming it will held on Thursday.
The timing of the PGM is poignant as it comes ahead of the resumption of House business after a month-long recess.
It also comes after reports emerged that President Kenyatta has summoned a meeting of the Jubilee party Parliamentary Group (National Assembly) for Tuesday June 2 ahead of resumption of House business.
Treasury CS Ukur Yatani is expected to deliver the 2020/21 national budget estimates on Thursday, June 11.
Together with entrenching the Sh54 billion economic stimulus announced by the President in law, the two are likely to be the most urgent business for Parliament.
But it is President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga’s political agenda that will inform proceedings of the PGM, which is composed of ODM, Ford Kenya, Wiper Party and Amani National Congress (ANC), entities that signed a pre-2017 election pact.
“We know that the budget estimates and the economic stimulus announced by the President are coming to the House. It’s a heavy agenda,” Mr Mbadi said, adding that the meeting will talk about the BBI report, which should find its way into the House anytime once Parliament resumes.
Top on the agenda of the PGM will be reorganisation of the committees, the 2020/21 budget estimates and the BBI report.
“The BBI report has all but been finalised and as a coalition, we need to discuss it and develop consensus,” Mr Mbadi said. The changes are part of the wider plan by the President and Mr Odinga to take over control of Parliament in a scheme Mr Kenyatta hopes will secure his legacy when he finally quits politics in 2022.
However, Wiper Party Vice Chairman Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said he was not aware of such a meeting.
Ford Kenya Secretary-General Eseli Simyu said he was aware of the meeting, but was yet to discuss the agenda with Mr Mbadi.
Last Friday the President met senators who supported the ouster of Tharaka Nithi senator Prof Kithure Kindiki as deputy speaker and offered them the Sh1 billion oversight fund with a request to help him with “two more assignments in future”, which were not specified, save for the hint that one would be a “political item” and the other related to his legacy.
According to sources, the political item is the proposal to amend the Constitution to expand the size of the executive, an issue he believes is the source of the violence witnessed at every election cycle.
“BBI is an important document that espouses the vision of the President and Mr Odinga. We need harmony and unity of purpose and explore ways of working together to ensure that it succeeds,” he said.
Besides punishing disloyal members, the coalition leadership seeks to purge truant members who hardly attend committees.
Discussions are also ongoing between the majority and minority sides to develop consensus on how to share committee leadership. Under the proposed arrangement, the minority is pushing to have their own deputise committee chairs.
“It’s a fact that Jubilee is the ruling party and we are not going to fight with them over the seats,” Mr Mbadi said.
Nothing in the Standing Orders stops the minority side from chairing committees.
“We are having friendly discussions so that through the permission of Jubilee, we can assist in the leadership of the committees by taking over vice chairs positions,” Mr Mbadi said, adding, no agreement had been made as yet.
Six Jubilee MPs held a meeting at Kieni MP Kanini Kega’s office in Nairobi to prepare for the PGM with President Kenyatta next week. Apart from Mr Kega, others who attended were Mr Festus Wangwe (Navakholo) and Mr Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Ms Fatuma Gedi (Wajir), Mr Maoka Maore (Igembe North) and Mr Jimmy Angwenyi (Kitutu Chache-North).
Mr Kega is said to be eyeing majority leader post should Mr Aden Duale be removed. Ms Gedi is lobbying to become the next deputy majority whip should the axe fall on nominated MP Cecily Mbarire, while Mr Wangwe is set to replace Mr Benjamin Washiali as the majority whip. Mr Angwenyi is the deputy majority whip.
ANC Secretary-General Barrack Muluka distanced the party from the meeting, saying, they are not ready to share positions at a time when the country is going through difficult times.
“We’ve not discussed this issue at the party level. We believe the most important thing is not who occupies which position in Parliament at a time when the country is facing a myriad of issues that require immediate interventions.
“As a party, we’re not part of it,” Mr Muluka said. He added that although the ANC has a parliamentary group, it’s incumbent upon it to caucus around a national agenda and not selfish interests.