Lobbying for the top positions in parliamentary leadership has started in earnest even as the MPs-elect prepare to convene in the 12th parliament next week.
Among the positions in contention both in the National Assembly and the Senate are those of the Speakers and their deputes, leaders of majority and their deputies, leaders of minority and their deputies, majority whips and their deputies and minority whips and their deputies.
In the National Assembly, the incumbent Speaker Justin Muturi and the Garissa Township MP Aden Duale, who has been the majority leader, are expected to retain their seats owing to their strong standing and the support they enjoy from the top Jubilee Party leadership.
The same could apply in the Senate where Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki and his Elgeyo-Marakwet counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen are also set to retain their seats as leader and deputy leader of majority respectively.
The four are seen as insiders in the Jubilee kitchen cabinet and loyalists who have been strong in pushing for the party’s interests in the 11th parliament.
MPs who have been elected on Jubilee Party tickets will hold a parliamentary group meeting this week to decide on the line-up of the House leadership.
While it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Mr Duale will retain his position, a section of Jubilee MPs who have been re-elected are uncomfortable with Mr Muturi and are fronting former Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkong’a to succeed him instead.
“I am sure I will get back my seat as majority leader. Jubilee MPs will decide who they want to be their Speaker, Deputy Speaker and other House leadership positions. In my opinion, the previous leaders performed well and should be retained,” said Mr Duale.
TYRANNY OF NUMBERS
He added: “My work this time will even be easier with this tyranny of numbers that we have.”
Mr Chepkong’a served as the chairperson of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee in the 11th parliament but lost his seat to William Chepkut who contested as an independent candidate during the August 8 election.
In the Senate, outgoing Speaker Ekwee Ethuro is now not sitting easy.
Top Jubilee Party leadership has quietly withdrawn their support for him as they have, since 2013, been increasingly uncomfortable with the way he has managed the business of the House.
A source has told Nation that both President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto are unhappy with the soft manner Mr Ethuro has presided over issues in the Senate and they are shopping around for his replacement.
The source, who did not wish to be named, says anger against Mr Ethuro is because he is deemed to have sacrificed the interests of the party at the altar of his own image which undermined Jubilee party’s performance in the Senate.
Mr Ethuro’s is accused of ambivalence and not being as vociferous as his counterpart in the National Assembly in his support for Jubilee Party policies.
Ms Amina Abdalla, who has served as nominated MP since 2002, is being touted as a possible successor of Mr Ethuro because of her perceived loyalty credentials and closeness to the President.
Others being mentioned are former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende and Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba in efforts by the Jubilee Party to completely win over western Kenya as part of its 2022 strategy.
The two Houses will have a set of new deputy speakers.
In the Senate, Mr Kembi Gitura lost in his bid to retain his Murang’a seat to outgoing Kiharu MP Irungu Kang’ata.
In the National Assembly, outgoing Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso will also be replaced after she was elected Bomet governor.
The majority side in the Senate will also be looking for new occupants in the offices of majority whip and the deputy after the exit of Ms Beatrice Elachi and Mr Mike Sonko Mbuvi.
Ms Elachi lost in her bid for Dagoretti North MP’s seat while Mr Sonko is the Nairobi governor-elect.
Mr Kang’ata, who is the Murang’a senator-elect, said he will go for the senate deputy Speaker saying the position must go back to the county.
“It is true that I’m lobbying to be the Senate Deputy Speaker because it belonged to the Murang’a people. I demand it back. I am a lawyer qualified just like the outgoing Senator Kembi Gitura,” Mr Kang’ata said.
Mr Kang’ata claims that Murang’a County legislators are supporting his bid and will push for the position when Jubilee MPs meet this week to decide on the House leadership positions.
Having retained his Senate seat, Mr Moses Wetang’ula will most likely retain his positon as the Leader of Minority, especially because he is the only Nasa principal remaining with something to hold on to.
Makueni Senator-elect Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said it is too early to decide how the positions will be shared out.
“It is too early to tell who is going to which office. These issues will be discussed in due course,” Mr Mutula Jr said.
The opposition will discuss with their principals on how they intend to share out the available positions for them in Parliament. The positions include Senate Leader of Minority previously occupied Mr Wetang’ula and Senate Minority Whip’s position previously held by Johnson Muthama who did not defend his Machakos seat.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said they are still waiting for direction from their principals.
“We have not decided on anything yet as we are waiting for direction from our leaders today,” Mr Wandayi said.