William Ruto

Deputy President William Ruto.

| File | Nation Media Group

Ruto camp side-lined from crucial parliamentary team

Allies of Deputy President William Ruto have been side-lined from the powerful House Business Committee (HBC) that is dominated by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s loyalists.

As the fifth session of the National Assembly opens today (Tuesday), the first task for the lawmakers will be to approve members of HBC, which schedules House business.

Those proposed to sit in the committee are MPs Joyce Emanikor, Shadrack Mose, Kawira Mwangaza, Mohamed Osman, Makali Mulu, Mishi Mboko and Godfrey Osotsi.

The retention of the team is a sign of confidence party bosses have in their leadership with the expected Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) legislation and other politically sensitive agenda on the eve of the 2022 General Election. Only MPs Mose and Kawira are perceived to be in the DP’s camp.

Other automatic members of the committee are House leaders led by Speaker Justin Muturi, who is also the chairperson, his deputy Moses Cheboi, Majority Leader Amos Kimunya, Minority Leader John Mbadi, Majority Whip Emmanuel Wangwe and Minority Whip Junet Mohammed.

Control House agenda

The selection of the 12-member committee is seen as a strategy by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to control the agenda of the House given crucial Bills including those to implement the BBI that are lined up for debate this year.

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 popularly known as the BBI Bill that is currently in the county assemblies, Referendum Bill and the Independent and Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019, are among some of the crucial Bills that the House will consider this session.

Standing Order 171 indicates that HBC has powers to determine the order in which the reports of committees shall be debated in the House.

In addition, the committee may also decide to prioritise or postpone any business of the House acting with the concurrence of the leader of the majority party or the leader of the minority party, as the case may be.

The committee is also tasked to prepare and, if necessary, from time to time adjust the parliamentary calendar with the approval of the House; monitor and oversee the implementation of the House Business and programmes.

Carefully selected

On Monday, Mr Osotsi told Nation.Africa that membership of the committee is carefully selected and is a preserve of only the most reliable and trusted legislators.

“The HBC leadership is decided by the party or coalition leadership in the House based on loyalty, performance and steadfastness. Ordinarily and as a global practise, the HBC membership should be composed of most reliable and trusted legislators,” Mr Osotsi said.

In June last year, the DP’s allies were kicked out of key House leadership as the president sought to stamp his authority as factional feuds within the ruling party frustrated operations.

In the changes Mr Kimunya replaced Mr Aden Duale as the leader of majority in the National Assembly while Mr Wangwe replaced Mr Benjamin Washiali as the majority whip.

The changes also affected parliamentary committees considered key to passage of BBI Bills including Justice and Legal Affairs.

Pro-handshake lawmakers

Several of the DP allies who chaired various committee were replaced by pro-handshake lawmakers.

At the time, Mr Junet said “no commander goes to war with troops who are not loyal.”

“There is crucial business coming up in the House that needs people who can work and not sabotage the process,” Mr Mbadi also said then.

Today (Tuesday), a Jubilee coalition Senate Parliamentary Group meeting is planned at Kenyatta International Convention Centre with speculation that Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata could be ousted.

Mr Kang’ata, who replaced Mr Kipchumba Murkomen in the last purge, courted controversy after he wrote a letter addressed to the President that was critical of the BBI.