While Coast MPs accused ODM of marginalisation, some Amani National Congress (ANC) members threatened to pull out of NASA after it lost the National Assembly deputy minority leader’s seat to Wiper, while in the Senate an ODM senator vowed not to let go the deputy minority leader’s seat. Suna East MP Junet Mohammed (ODM) was appointed National Assembly minority whip while Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Wiper) was named minority whip in the Senate deputised by Senator Petronilla Were (ANC).
A political row is brewing in the National Super Alliance (NASA) as individual, regional and party interests over parliamentary leadership threaten the coalition’s unity. The NASA House leadership lists released on Wednesday caused a storm in both the Senate and National Assembly when a group of MPs from ANC, Wiper and ODM Coast representatives accused the principals of favouring some regions.
Other appointments were that of Kathiani MP Robert Mbui (Wiper) as National Assembly deputy minority leader and Kiminini lawmaker Chris Wamalwa (Ford Kenya) to deputise Junet. In the Senate, Siaya Senator James Orengo (ODM) will deputise NASA principal and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula (Ford-K), who is the minority leader.
The controversial list was delivered to National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka by Junet and NASA Chief Executive Officer Norman Magaya.
Immediately the list was made public, Lusaka was forced to shelve its tabling in the Senate after Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina complained bitterly about Were’s appointment, saying the seat was reserved for him. And there was a near fist fight in the National Assembly when Muturi read out the names.
The angered MPs demanded that Muturi writes back to NASA and instruct them to consider gender, regional balance and ethnicity. Hours after Muturi unveiled the list, NASA Coast MPs led by Suleiman Dori of Msambweni protested, saying they would not allow to be discriminated against.
NASA had previously picked on Wetang’ula and ODM Chairman John Mbadi as Senate and National Assembly minority leaders, respectively, but Muturi quashed the appointments and three others, saying they were not procedural. Muturi said the appointments then had fallen short of Standing Order requirements.
Coast lawmakers said their region lacked regional representation yet the Opposition had received overwhelming support from the region in the August 8 elections. Away from the complaints from the Coast legislators, ANC was up in arms over the replacement of Lugari MP Ayub Savula from the list.
However, some ANC leaders, including senators George Khaniri (Vihiga) and Cleophas Malala (Kakamega) and MPs Geoffrey Osotsi (nominated) and Beatrice Adagala (Vihiga Woman Rep) have distanced themselves from the position taken by Savula and others that they will disengage from NASA. The leaders termed the threats premature and uncalled for since NASA principals are still consulting so as to address the matter amicably.
“ANC is an integral member of NASA and any insinuation and threats it will pull out are inaccurate, irresponsible and motivated by myopic selfish motives and supported by Jubilee,” said Osotsi, who is the party’s sectary general.
They said those threatening to pull out of the coalition did not consult party leader Musalia Mudavadi over the matter. “The supposed resolution of pulling out of NASA for any reason has never been floated in a party meeting. We wish to affirm our loyalty to the NASA coalition and its decisions thereof and shall not allow Jubilee to use some of our members,” said Osotsi.
Divide the coalition
He warned that they will not allow some of their colleagues to divide the coalition by taking advantage of the current perceived disgruntlement over House leadership posts. He said the matter will be addressed in coalition’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday. “The House leadership will not only be based on party representation but will also be guided by regional/gender balance, competence, capacity, ability and loyalty to the party,” Osotsi said.
He urged members dissatisfied with any matter, including nomination to parliamentary positions, to seek internal mechanisms to remedy the situation instead of discussing it in public platforms. Mbadi, who is the minority leader in the National Assembly, downplayed any rifts within the coalition. He said he met Wiper leaders in his office on Friday and addressed their concerns. He promised to do the same with ANC and Coast ODM MPs.
But even as Mbadi sought to bring their House in order, Junet on Friday demanded his rightful entitlement from Parliament as the Minority Whip, which includes an office, an official vehicle and security. “We have discussed and reconciled the issue with Wiper. Mbui is okay and so is Wiper as a party,” said Mbadi.