Wetang’ula wins National Assembly Speaker position

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula.

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula takes the oath of office at Parliament Buildings on September 9, 2022.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Prior to the vote, Kenya Kwanza had rallied the support of 191 members, their numbers bolstered by Dr Ruto’s poaching of nine Azimio MPs.
  • Mr Marende conceded before the second round of voting, paving the way for Mr Wetang’ula to be elected Speaker.
  • It was also another victory for Kenya Kwanza after Uasin Gishu Woman Rep Gladys Shollei floored Dadaab MP Farah Maalim to bag the Deputy Speaker position.

At least 24 MPs defied President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga to vote for Mr Moses Wetang’ula who saw off a challenge from Mr Kenneth Marende to secure the National Assembly Speaker’s post.

This effectively places the control of the two Houses in President-elect William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance given that Mr Wetang’ula’s victory came hours after former Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi was elected Senate Speaker.

In the National Assembly, Mr Wetang’ula won the first round by 215 against former Speaker Marende’s 130, forcing the two candidates to go into the second round of voting since an outright victor requires the support of two-thirds (233) of the 349-member House.

Prior to the vote, Kenya Kwanza had rallied the support of 191 members, their numbers bolstered by Dr Ruto’s poaching of nine MPs from the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition and the 12 independents.

This left Azimio with 157 MPs, one less given a vacant nomination slot due to Wiper’s court dispute. 

But the outcome of the first round of voting indicated Mr Wetang’ula got the backing of 24 Azimio-allied MPs. 

Mr Marende conceded before the second round of voting, paving the way for Mr Wetang’ula to be elected Speaker.

The elections of the speakers in the two Houses were preceded by the swearing-in of 348 of the 349 members in the National Assembly and 67 in the Senate.

The failure to swear in one member of the National Assembly was occasioned by a court order that prevented the electoral commission from gazetting a nomination slot for the Wiper party until a case lodged in court is heard and determined. 

National Assembly acting Clerk Serah Kioko presided over the proceedings of the House during the swearing-in of the 348 MPs and the election of the Speaker.

It was also another victory for Kenya Kwanza after Uasin Gishu Woman Rep Gladys Shollei floored Dadaab MP Farah Maalim to bag the Deputy Speaker position.

Opposition

Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang’ had opposed the nomination of Mr Wetang’ula, saying he was not qualified to contest for the position.

He went on to raise two issues, which he told the House, make Mr Wetang’ula unsuitable—his failure to resign from the Senate as required by the law, and the Tokyo land scandal report that was authored by the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee of the 10th Parliament, which recommended that Mr Wetang’ula, who was Foreign Affairs minister at the time, steps aside.

Mr Wetang’ula was then suspended by then President Mwai Kibaki but was reinstated after further investigations that cleared him, paving the way for his reappointment to the ministry.

“As I’ve been able to check out, Mr Wetang’ula is a member of the other House. I’ve learnt that he resigned on September 9, 2022. This means that he resigned a day after the election for the speakership of this House,” Mr Kajwang’ said.

The Ruaraka MP further noted that the person he delivered his resignation to—former Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka—was already an elected governor of Bungoma county.

“There is a valid resolution of this House that Mr Wetang’ula is not eligible to hold a public office because of the Tokyo land scandal. I want you to find that he is not eligible,” Mr Kajwang’ said.

However, Ms Kioko, who was the presiding officer of the proceedings in the House, dismissed the claims, telling the National Assembly that Mr Wetang’ula was duly qualified to contest for the position.

Ms Kioko said the House sought the opinion of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on whether Mr Wetang’ula is suitable and qualified to vie for Speaker of the National Assembly.

“On September 6, 2022, the IEBC wrote to me confirming that he is indeed qualified to vie as Speaker of this House. An MP is not an MP until such a member has taken oath or affirmation of office,” Ms Kioko said. She added: “I have certified that he is qualified to vie as Speaker of the National Assembly.”

She also noted that Mr Wetang’ula resigned on August 29, 2022, in a letter to Mr Lusaka, which also communicated his desire to contest for the office of Speaker of the National Assembly.

Garissa Township MP Aden Duale had also dismissed Mr Kajwang’s claims, noting that because Mr Wetang’ula ceased to be a senator on August 9—the date of the General Election—and he has not been sworn in, he is therefore not a state officer.

“I want to prove to you that based on that Tokyo land report scandal, Mr Wetang’ula stepped aside. You know very well that the report, which is a property of this House, was investigated further by the competent government investigatory agencies. The agencies cleared him and he was reappointed to the office,” Mr Duale said. 

Nominated MP John Mbadi pointed out a grey area in the Constitution that allowed Mr Lusaka to be sworn in as Bungoma governor when he was serving as Speaker of the Senate, and said it needs fixing.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah said the claims against Mr Wetang’ula are far-fetched.

“One can only be elected Speaker if one is not a sitting MP. It’s inappropriate for Mr Kajwang’ not to provide documents supporting what he is purporting. He knows that what he is telling the country is not true because the office of Speaker exists in perpetuity until a new one is elected and sworn in,” Mr Ichung’wah said.

National Assembly Standing Orders provide that a person shall not be elected Speaker unless supported in a ballot by the votes of two-thirds of the 349 members of the House.

Number of votes

If no candidate garners two-thirds, the candidate who received the highest number of votes in the ballot and the candidate or candidates who in that ballot received the next highest number of votes shall then go into a run-off. The candidate who receives the highest number of votes carries the day.

Immediately following the election of the Speaker, the clerk administers the Oath or Affirmation of Office to the Speaker in the presence of the lawmakers.

The Standing Orders provide that a Speaker shall be elected when the House first meets after a General Election and that before the House proceeds with the dispatch of any other business, except the administration of the Oath or Affirmation of Office to MPs-elect present.

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