How Ruto engineered Speaker Kingi win in Senate

Kenya Kwanza Alliance-sponsored Amason Kingi secured 46 votes—helped by 10 Azimio senators, who defied a walkout by their camp—to be elected the third Senate Speaker. 

It emerged that the President-elect’s camp reached out to a group from the rival coalition on Wednesday evening after Dr Ruto had chaired a Kenya Kwanza parliamentary group meeting that nominated Mr Kingi and Mr Moses Wetang’ula (National Assembly) as their candidates.   

A follow-up meeting yesterday morning prior to the vote would prove successful to get the former Kilifi governor sufficient numbers to seal victory in the first round that required a two-thirds majority of the 67-member Senate.

“This is politics and there is nothing wrong with reaching out to our colleagues from the other side. We did it so well and it worked for us. You go for the strategy that can give you a win against your competitor,” said a Kenya Kwanza senator, who acknowledged the secret overtures on Wednesday evening through to yesterday morning.

Better deal

In the Kenya Kwanza plan, Azimio-allied senators from the Coast, where Mr Kingi comes from, were persuaded that Dr Ruto’s camp had a better deal for them and there was no need for them to create unnecessary animosity with his administration by putting up a fight for a deputy speaker slot that wasn’t assured.

Azimio had fronted Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo (ODM) for deputy speaker, alongside Mr Musyoka, who was gunning for the Speaker seat.

Kenya Kwanza already boasted a 36-30 majority—Wiper’s one nominated slot is vacant due to a court dispute—and although the President-elect’s side would not have won in the first round, the feeling was that his side would win anyway in the second round that required a simple majority. 

In the end, when the Azimio brigade sensed defeat, their members unsuccessfully tried to push for the postponement of the vote, but when that failed, they walked out.

However, the defiance by their 10 colleagues helped Mr Kingi lock a first-round win. 

Those who remained behind and voted for Mr Kingi were Mr Madzayo (ODM), Kwale’s Juma Boy (ODM), Mr Joseph Githuku (Lamu, Jubilee), Mr Mohamed Faki (Mombasa, ODM), and Taita Taveta’s Johnes Mwaruma (ODM).

The others were Mr Okiya Omtatah (Busia, NRA), Mr Abdul Haji (Garissa, Jubilee), Ms Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo, Jubilee), Prof Margaret Kamar (nominated, Jubilee), and Turkana Senator James Lomenen (Jubilee).

“I voted for Kingi as the speaker, but that does not mean I have joined Kenya Kwanza. I will be voting on issues and not for coalitions,” said Mr Omtatah.

Technicalities

Earlier, when it became clear that the numbers were not on their side, Azimio senators resorted to delaying tactics by trying to have Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye suspend the sitting, citing technicalities.

Homa Bay’s Moses Kajwang, his Nyamira counterpart Okong’o Omogeni, and Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina would lead a spirited attempt to delay the inevitable.

But Mr Nyegenye inflicted more pain on Azimio, maintaining that he would not suspend the sitting.

Further, he communicated the withdrawal of Mr Musyoka’s candidature.

And with all options exhausted and with no fall-back plan, some Azimio senators walked out just before voting could start. 

“It looks like some of our members were bought, it was going to be difficult to win that seat. We were going to embarrassingly lose,” said a senator from the Western region.

In his inaugural speech, Mr Kingi pledged to be an impartial servant ready to discharge his responsibilities with due diligence and in accordance with the law.

Meru senator Kathuri Murungi was announced deputy speaker unopposed in a clean sweep for Kenya Kwanza.

Mr Kajwang said they decided not to participate in the election because of three issues, including the disenfranchisement of nominated senators whose names were gazetted late, and were, therefore, denied a chance to contest the deputy speaker position.

“All senators are equal and there is no way the position of the deputy Speaker can then be reserved through trickery for only the elected senators at the exclusion of the nominated ones,” said Mr Kajwang.

Another MP from Kisumu County read malice into Mr Musyoka’s insistence during the Azimio Parliamentary Group meeting on Wednesday that he would vie for the Senate Speaker position in spite of the opinion of a majority of members that Mr Marende stood a better chance to clinch the seat.

“It looks like the deal to destabilise us (Azimio) through Kalonzo was reached on that Wednesday because we wanted Marende to go for the seat but he insisted and he was told to go for it. Getting out of the race at the last minute raises a lot of questions,” the MP told the Nation.

While addressing the press after the walkout, the Azimio senators claimed that the vote was a fraud and illegality in which they could not participate.

Mr Kajwang said they decided not to participate in the election due to three issues.

The first was the disenfranchisement of nominated senators whose names were gazetted late and were therefore denied a chance to contest for the deputy Speaker’s position.

This is in addition to questioning the suitability and integrity of the Speaker candidates, especially Mr Kingi, as well as fidelity to the law regarding the Political Parties Act.

“All senators are equal and there is no way the position of the deputy Speaker can then be reserved through trickery for only the elected senators at the exclusion of the nominated ones,” said Mr Kajwang.

“We have also raised issues around the integrity of some of the candidates who presented themselves. The House had previously indicted some of the candidates and we needed a declaration and determination from the clerk whether persons who have been indicted by the House should be eligible to run for the speakership of the House,” he added.

Mr Kajwang questioned why the clerk was in a rush to rule yet there was enough time to prosecute the matter.

“This is why we have decided we will not be part of the charade. Better to withdraw rather than participate in an illegal process,” he said.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna also complained that they were not given an opportunity to interrogate the qualification and suitability of some of the candidates, especially Mr Kingi, the Pamoja African Alliance party leader.

“At this particular time, we don’t feel the necessity to sanitise a process that is already fraught with corruption. It is better to be defeated in honour than to be part of a fraud,” he said.

Kitui Senator Enock Wambua stressed that the outcome of a process is as important as the process and so if the process is wrong, the outcome cannot be right.

“The argument that we are running out of time is a lazy one. We have five years and so we are running out of time going where?” he asked.

But their protests were no more than the kicks of a dying horse, as the election of the speaker and deputy would proceed nonetheless.

Are you excited?We are giving away a $50 gift card every day

Don’t miss the chance to participate in the biggest giveaway of this year.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here