MPs from the Western region have pledged to work with President William Ruto even as they criticised his administration over the importation of genetically modified maize.
MPs Titus Khamala (Lurambi), Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo) and Bernard Shinali (Ikolomani) stepped up their campaign to chart a new political direction after the August 9 General Election, declaring that residents of the region will benefit from the government if they work closely with President Ruto.
Although they have maintained that they are not planning to defect from ODM, the MPs said they do not need permission from anybody to meet the President and embrace his administration.
They said they are planning town hall meetings in the counties to explain to residents that all elected leaders need to embrace President Ruto’s administration so that the region does not end up languishing in the political cold.
The legislators yesterday met in Nairobi under the umbrella of the Western Parliamentary Group Caucus and opposed the government’s decision to import GM maize.
“We confirm that the region has witnessed surplus maize harvests in Trans Nzoia, Bungoma and Kakamega, which has not been sold off. The caucus confirms that the community farmers will suffer irreparable damage if the government continues to import maize. Our people will lose livelihoods as well as their health,” the MPs said.
At the same time, they expressed concern about the failure of the Raila Odinga-led Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition to accommodate any member from the Luhya community in the Senate and National Assembly leadership.
The 21 legislators from Busia, Vihiga, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Kakamega and Nairobi counties also alleged dishonesty on the part of Azimio by excluding Sirisia MP John Waluke from the Parliamentary Service Commission despite being nominated by his Jubilee Party.
“The caucus, therefore, demands that the Azimio coalition reinstates Hon John Waluke to the Parliamentary Service Commission,” they said. “We also demand that the Azimio coalition takes remedial action in house leadership positions by being inclusive and that going forward, all engagements with any political coalition must be through the caucus and must explicitly identify what is in it for us.”
Other leaders who attended the caucus included Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, Catherine Omayo (Busia), Maurice Bisau (Kiminini), Mary Emase (Teso South), Malulu Injendi (Malava), Beatrice Elachi (Dagoretti North), Caleb Amisi (Saboti), Christopher Aseka (Khwisero), Fred Ikana (Shinyalu), Majimbo Kalasinga (Kabuchai) and Charles Gimose (Hamisi). Nabwera Nabii (Lugari), Wanami Wamboka (Bumula), Innocent Mugabe (Likuyani), Dick Mangu (Luanda), Martin Pepela (Webuye East) and John Makali (Kanduyi) also attended.
The legislators also criticised President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Azimio for failing to ensure the election of a Western region native to the East African Legislative Assembly.
In the House leadership, from western Kenya, Kenya Kwanza has Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale as the Senate Majority Chief Whip while Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe of Azimio chairs the Public Investments Committee of the National Assembly.
On Mr Waluke, who is out on bond as he appeals against a 67-year jail term in a Sh297 million fraud case, the lawmakers insisted that the matter is “politically instigated and incarceration aimed at demeaning the community”.
“We demand that the case be withdrawn and be dealt with in the context of amnesty extended to all those facing corruption cases like that of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Mithika Linturi and Public Service Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa, among others,” the leaders said.
On the cooperation with the Kenya Kwanza administration, Mr Khamala has been vocal about meeting President Ruto, whom he described as a personal friend.
“The election period is over and I want to meet President Ruto and work with him to ensure the people of Kakamega are not left in the cold as the new administration settles down to work,” he said.
Mr Wangwe said those questioning why they had met President Ruto had nothing to offer. He said, without elaborating, that “power is never given, power is taken and the three of us (himself, Mr Khamala and Mr Shinali) want to take power”.
“Kenya has only one President. If we don’t move close to him, we will continue waiting [in the] queue for our turn as other communities have their share of the cake from the government. We want to make it clear that we have been sent by those who elected us to talk to the President and work with him.”
Mr Shinali said that after they met President Ruto on November 11 at State House, he directed that contractors who had delayed the tarmacking of key roads in the region be replaced and that the projects be ready by December.
The three MPs met President Ruto with former Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali.
They said they had decided to meet President Ruto to seek his intervention on major projects in the region that were initiated by the national government with the aim of having them completed.
Mr Odinga beat Dr Ruto in Kakamega after garnering 357,857 votes against Dr Ruto’s 141,166 and in Busia the ODM leader got 226,042 votes against President Ruto’s 48,801 votes while in Vihiga, Mr Odinga garnered 114,714 votes against the President’s 67,633 votes. The Head of State, however, beat Mr Odinga in Bungoma, garnering 255,906 votes against the ODM leader’s 145,280 votes while in Trans Nzoia, Mr Odinga had a slim win against the President after getting 132,440 votes against his 116,776 votes.
But two months after President Ruto was sworn in, the political landscape in the region is beginning to change as some MPs court the Kenya Kwanza administration, arguing that they are under pressure from their constituents.
“We do not want to be leaders who articulate our issues at funerals because we have decided to stick in the opposition. We want to meet President Ruto anytime and discuss with him our development agenda,” Mr Shinali said.