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Senate seeks President Uhuru, Raila help over row

By , People Daily Digital
Tuesday, October 5th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Senator James Orengo. Photo/PD/FILE

The Senate leadership has sought the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga to salvage stalled reconstitution of House committees which has grounded key activities.

Leader of Majority in the Senate Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot) and his Minority counterpart James Orengo (Siaya) arrived at the decision after allegedly failing to strike a consensus on who should chair what committee and its membership.

Deputy President William Ruto’s allies, a majority of whom were affected by last year’s Jubilee Party purge, are opposed to House committee changes contained in a motion sponsored by Poghisio.

The proposed changes, which Ruto allies have termed illegal, seek to have House committees reconstituted and new officials elected. The DP allies are keen to recapture various slots they lost during the purge.

Business grounded

Despite weeks of negotiations, senators for the fourth time last week, failed to agree after Ruto’s associates insisted to chair some of the committees even as they opposed the selection of Baringo Senator Gideon Moi to chair the powerful Committee on National Security, Defence and Foreign Relations.

Moi is scheduled to be moved from the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) committee, which he chairs, to the Committee on National Security, Defence and Foreign Relations.

Nyandarua Senator Mwangi Githiomi, a close ally of President Kenyatta has also been proposed to serve as a member of the committee.

People Daily understands that Senator Moi has been brought to the committee to take up the position left vacant after the demise of Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji in February this year.

Kisumu Senator Fred Outa has been acting chairperson  of the committee.

The standoff, which has been pending in the House for more than six months, has grounded some committee activities, especially the committee on Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations, which lost three of its members to death and party dewhipping.

Committee chairperson and Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ says that his team is currently handling Bills relating to transfer of functions from one level of government to another but it’s unable to transact business because of quorum hitch.

“My committee has not been able to process business because of the quorum issues that have been raised before the House,” Senator Kajwang’ said.

But in an interview with People Daily yesterday, Orengo, who is the Siaya Senator, opined that the matter is still under consideration by the Jubilee Party, ODM and Senate leadership.

“I request for patience as the party leaders and whips try to resolve all outstanding issues in this matter, so that upon resubmission of the names, there is no contestation on the floor of the House,” he said without divulging more details. Senator Poghisio also called for patience as the House leadership consults on the matter.

“The Senate leadership is consulting on the proposed reconstitution of select committees.

This is obviously a matter of interest to every senator and I assure the House that the changes proposed are geared towards enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in the committees,” said Poghisio.

While admitting difficulty,  Poghisio said the issue is posing a challenge for the whips and committee chairpersons.

Absenteeism 

“Something that we should address in the Kamukunji is the fact that members do not attend committees.

There are members who want to be in four or five committees and they hardly appear in any of them. I want us to look at that,” he said.

“Let us not have the desire to have more committees than we can handle. Let us make sure that every member belongs to at least two standing committees.

There needs to be a general agreement with the other committees. I agree and look forward to the time when we can conclude this matter.” 

However, Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, who is a close ally of the DP, castigated Deputy Leader of Majority Fatuma Dullo and Majority Whip Kiambu’s Kimani Wamatangi for being in more than five committees whereas other senators serve only  one committee.

“They have given themselves plum committees such as Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee,” Kang’ata said, adding the duo must relinquish some committees for others.

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