Battle for majority slot to dominate House session
The fight over which coalition will take the majority party’s slot is likely to dominate the first session of the 13th Parliament.
President William Ruto is today set to make his maiden speech to the August House when he addresses the joint sitting of the two Houses.
Kenya Kwanza Alliance headed by Ruto and Azimio-One Kenya coalition of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga are both laying claim to the majority party slot.
The onus is now on Speaker Moses Wetangula to make a ruling on the controversial matter which is likely to threaten business which includes the Supplementary Budget.
Wetangula has, however, downplayed the battle for the majority party slot, terming it a “small” matter which he will rule on with ease when parliament reconvenes.
“The said matter is a simple one, I will make a ruling which will solve the perceived problem to its conclusion,” Wetangula said during a recent MPs’ workshop.
At recent Parliamentary Group retreats in Naivasha and Stoni Athi, Machakos County for Kenya Kwanza and Azimo la Umoja respectively, the two coalition parties insisted that they command a majority in the National Assembly.
While Kenya Kwanza nominated Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa as the majority leader, Azimion picked his Ugunja counterpart Opiyo Wandayi for the same.
The contest has shifted to the game of numbers in the House, while the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party has 144 elected MPs, Orange Democratic Movement has 88 lawmakers, Jubilee has 27 and Wiper has 26 lawmakers.
But with the shift by the UDM Party which has 9 MPs, The Service Party (2), Maendeleo Chap Chap (2), while NOPEU, DP, GDDP, MDG and CCM have one member each, the numbers have changed to give the ruling coalition an upper hand.
Apart from the leader of majority position, MPs are also expected to form various committees that will oversight the executive.
In addition, the lawmakers are also expected to form Selection Committee that will vet and approve cabinet secretaries.
In his inaugural address, Ruto is expected to outline the policies and key priorities anchored in the bottom-up economic model that he campaigned on which his administration will be seeking to realize.
The Head of state is also expected to announce the measures to be taken and the progress in place towards the realisation of the national values and ensuring the high cost of living is reduced.
In a notification signed by Wetang’ula, and his Senate counterpart Amason Kingi, the joint sitting of both Houses will commence at 2:30 pm.
Article 132(1) of the Constitution states the function of the President, which is to address the opening of each newly elected Parliament.
Leaders from across the political divide are on record that they want Ruto to tackle the economy, cost of living and drought that is ravaging most parts of the country.
The lawmakers also want the Head of State to state his plans for reducing the cost of living, how his administration will tackle graft and his plans to manage the runaway public debt.
Pundits will also be watching how Ruto’s administration will juggle Executive matters with those of legislature.
While unveiling his cabinet, Ruto said that Amani National Congress (ANC) leader, whose position will be that of the Prime Cabinet secretary, will coordinate the two entities.
Mudavadi will be the liaison between the National Government and parliament in what was largely seen as a move by Ruto to claim the majority position in the house.
Said Ruto: “ Hon Musalia Mudavadi will Chair and Coordinate National Government legislative agenda across all ministries and state departments in consultation with and for transmission to the Party/Coalition Leaders in Parliament.”
During the Naivasha retreat, Ruto laughed off claims by the Azimio Coalition party that they command a majority in the National Assembly.
The head of state insisted that it was absurd for the opposition outfit to claim that it controls a majority in the August House yet they could not marshal enough votes to install their candidate as the National Assembly Speaker.
Kenya Kwanza won the National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker positions during an election held on September 8, 2022, after the swearing-in of lawmakers.
Kenya Kwanza also picked Kilifi North MP Owen Baya as the deputy majority leader, South Mugirango MP Sylvanus Osoro Majority Whip, assisted by Marsabit Woman Representative Naomi Waqo.