Azimio, Kenya Kwanza in stiff battle for numbers
The battle for control of the two Houses of Parliament started in earnest yesterday with the two main coalitions claiming supremacy.
Kenya Kwanza yesterday claimed it had earned the support of eight independent MPs and two others from small parties, increasing its total number to 169.
The Azimio coalition has reported 162 members. Excluding independents and the two small party MPs, Azimio coalition has more members.
There are four parliamentary elections still pending after voting in those regions was postponed.
Yesterday, the two coalitions were claiming superiority in the National Assembly. During the Kenya Kwanza meeting at President-elect William Ruto’s Karen residence, 169 MPs were introduced.
Later in the day, Azimio running mate Martha Karua, while speaking at KICC during a caucus of the coalition’s elected leaders, declared that their coalition had a strong majority in the National Assembly.
Earlier, Ruto had said his coalition will be commanding the majority in both Houses with the support of independent MPs. “The number is likely to go up after our nominated members join us. We are also working hard to win the four seats which were postponed,” Ruto said.
The party or coalition with majority MPs will pick the Leader of Majority in the National Assembly. It will also have an upper hand in election of the Speaker.
It will also influence voting on Bills presented before Parliament.
This is in large part of the reason why the supremacy battle played out yesterday.
Kenya Kwanza has proposed Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula for the National Assembly Speaker position, a powerful seat since the Speaker is the head of the Legislature and third in line from the president. Karua said Azimio has “command” of the National Assembly and are only one member shy of their political competitors at the Senate.
This basically means Parliament is hang and voting can go either way whenever there is a crucial Motion on the floor of either House. “Our figures show that we command the National Assembly. Just like I said last time, the Senate, our competitors are up by one, but the National Assembly, we command.”
Speaking at KICC yesterday, Azimio leaders; Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Karua said their victory at the August 9 presidential polls will come true.
“Ours is victory deferred but is coming home. That is the message to everyone as we explore legal and constitutional avenues,” said Karua.
Karua and Kalonzo pointed out that their numbers were pegged on the pre-election Azimio coalition agreement deposited with the Registrar of Political parties.
Sources told People Daily that Azimio was still fronting former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende for the Senate Speaker’s seat while some members asked Kalonzo to go for the National Assembly Speaker’s position.
“We are strategising and we shall front our best for those two positions. All the members in both Houses will make a choice,” the source said.
The winner of the remaining four constituencies, nominated MPs and the 12 Independent MPs are the dynamics that are likely to dictate who will control the National Assembly. A source at the United Democratic Alliance secretariat said four members elected on the Azimio ticket were set to join Kenya Kwanza during the Karen residence meeting.
This is probably where Karua made it clear that Azimio was still operating under the coalition agreement deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties. The agreement says member parties cannot leave the coalition six months before and six months after the 2022 election.
On single-party membership, UDA has more members in the National Assembly with 137 compared to ODM’s 85.
In terms of Women Rep, Kenya Kwanza has 24 against Azimio’s 21.
The number of nominated MPs is dictated by an individual party’s strength but in all there are 12 slots to be shared.
With UDA having 137, it is likely to get six members, ODM four, Jubilee and Wiper one each. None of the coalitions commands an absolute majority of 180 members since the 12 nominated seats are still vacant and four parliamentary elections have been postponed. The four are Kacheliba, Rongai, Pokot South and Kitui Rural.
The 12 Independent candidates are free to support either side of the divide.
Among the small parties, Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi’s Pamoja African Alliance has three MPs; Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua’s Maendeleo Chap Chap has two, while National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi’s Democratic Party and former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri of The Service Party have bagged one seat each. Chap Chap was a member of the Azimio coalition but ditched the camp before the election. Both Azimio and Kenya Kwanza are claiming the two MPs on the party’s ticket. In the upper House, there are 20 nominated member seats, which are shared according to party strength.
This explains why the two coalitions are headed for a protracted battle to win control of the two Houses.
In the National Assembly, a two-thirds majority is at least 233 of the 349-member House. Of these, 290 are directly elected MPs, 47 are elected Woman Reps and 12 are nominated to represent special interests.
The two-thirds majority is critical as it can come in handy in case of an impeachment of a president or Cabinet Secretary.
In the 12th Parliament, there was an attempt to impeach Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia but it flopped after the mover, Nyali MP Mohamed Ali, failed to make the requisite number to move the Motion.
In the last Parliament, Jubilee was just 32 MPs shy of an absolute majority before the breakup that saw Ruto take away almost 150 members to form UDA.
Jubilee had 172 MPs, but the alliance’s strength rose to 200 with the support of Kanu (10), Economic Freedom Party (five), Party for Development and Reform (four), Maendeleo Chap Chap (four), Kenya National Congress (two), and PNU (one).
On the Minority benches, ODM had 73 MPs, Wiper (23), ANC (14), Ford-Kenya (13), Chama Cha Mashinani (2), while Chama Cha Uzalendo had one.
There were 14 independent MPs while the other small parties had one each.