National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula yesterday found himself in murky waters as MPs protested his declaration of Kenya Kwanza as the majority side forced him to end the sitting of the House prematurely.
Mr Wetang’ula, in an apparent reprimand to the Office of Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) for failing to furnish the House with certified copies of coalition agreements as required by the Standing Orders, ruled that with 179 MPs in the 349-member House, Kenya Kwanza was the majority and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya the minority with 157 MPs.
Irked by the decision, MPs Rosa Buyu (Kisumu Town West) and Raphael Wanjala (Budalang’i) attempted to grab the mace but were swiftly intercepted by the Serjeants-At-Arms.
The incident brought led to chaos in the House had sat pensively listening to the ruling that took the Speaker one hour to read, as other members stood from their seats and others approached the dispatch box.
The Speaker’s directives for order to be maintained in the House were ignored. In the end, Mr Wetang’ula chose to hurriedly adjourn the House to Tuesday next week. The orderlies formed a ring around him and the mace as he left the chamber.
The mace is the symbol of authority in the House without which no business can be transacted.
Azimio MPs led by Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja, ODM), Junet Mohamed (Suna East, ODM) and John Mbadi (Suba South, ODM), assembled outside the debating chamber and accused Mr Wetang’ula of introducing dictatorship in the House.
“He basically removed members from the Azimio coalition without any reference to the law. It is illegal,” said Mr Wandayi.
Initially, Mr Wandayi, who will now become the leader of the minority, had tried to give notice to Mr Wetang’ula to have him review his ruling but the Speaker responded: “The Speaker’s ruling stands as it is whether the chips stand or fall.”
Mr Wetang’ula announced the strength of individuals parties in the House with UDA leading with 145 MPs, followed by ODM (86), Jubilee (28), Wiper (26), ANC and UDM eight each, Ford Kenya and Kanu six each, DAP-K (5), PAA and KUP three each, and UPIA, MCC and TSP two each.
The ruling by the Speaker now paves the way for the formation of the House Business Committee (HBC) that schedules the business to be transacted in the House and other committees.
Azimio had nominated Mr Wandayi (ODM) as the leader of the majority in the House, Kathiani MP Robert Mbui (Wiper) as deputy majority leader, Junet Mohamed (ODM) as majority whip and Sabina Chege (Jubilee) as deputy minority leader.
Kenya Kwanza had nominated Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah as majority leader, Owen Baya as deputy majority leader, South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro as majority whip and Marsabit County Woman Rep Naomi Waqo as his deputy. All are from UDA.
This means that Azimio will have to regularise its communication to the Speaker to read the minority side in the House.
A communication to the National Assembly by the ORPP showed Azimio was the majority side with 171 MPs against Kenya Kwanza’s 165. However, the legitimacy of Azimio as the majority side was questioned after four of the 26 parties that signed the coalition agreement pulled out with its 14 elected and nominated MPs to join Kenya Kwanza.
This is despite the Azimio coalition agreement signed in April this year, four months before the August 9 elections, decreeing that a member party can only leave the coalition either six months before the General Election or three months after.
“This is the capture of Parliament by the Executive. The Speaker has become the Registrar of Political Parties, moving MPs from their coalitions to others without due regard to the law,” charged Mr Junet.
In making the decision, Mr Wetang’ula blamed the ORPP for failing to furnish the House with the documents signed by Azimio and Kenya Kwanza parties.
The Standing Orders stipulate that the Clerk of the House shall obtain certified copies of coalition agreements entered into by the parties for the purpose of ascertaining the relative majorities in the House.
Mr Wetang’ula ruled the document provided by the registrar as the Azimio coalition agreement inadmissible.
“The attempt by the Registrar Of Political Parties to convey what is said to be a certified copy of the document has not made things better,” said Mr Wetang’ula. “The document is the same as the one tabled in the House by Mr Junet on Tuesday this week when the House sat for the first time after the Presidential address on Thursday last week, and immediately dismissed by the Speaker as inadmissible.”
He added: “A perusal of the document tabled by Mr Junet and the version conveyed by the registrar of political parties reveals the same glaring gaps and inconsistencies that make it inadmissible.”
The Speaker noted that the documents had no uniformity in the manner in which the various pages of the documents were signed or initialised.
“Some pages in the documents contain fewer signatures than others while some signatures are hardly visible. The pagination of the documents is also inconsistent. Some pages had numbers while others were not paginated. I am inclined to think these are superimpositions,” said Mr Wetang’ula.
The 14 MPs who shifted from Azimio to Kenya Kwanza are from UDM, MCC, MDG and PAA.