The unity of the Opposition NASA will be tested this weekend when the parties must agree on their nominees to the Parliamentary Service Commission.
They must submit the names by Monday — the deadline set by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi during last Thursday’s afternoon session.
But NASA is unsure if it will comply.
Minority leader John Mbadi yesterday told the Star that NASA will try: “It is an agreement that has to be reached. Even if we don’t forward names on Monday, they will go any other time. Jubilee can go ahead and have their membership,” he said.
But his deputy, Wiper’s Robert Mbui, exuded confidence that the matter will be resolved by Monday.
“The principals will give us a way forward by Monday,” he said.
The majority Jubilee Party has already submitted its names and the House was set to debate and vote on the motion on Thursday.
It was shelved to next Tuesday on the request of Mbadi to give NASA more time to iron out its differences.
The nomination of members to the powerful and strategic PSC has exacerbated wrangles among the NASA parties — ODM, Wiper and ANC — on how to share the three available slots.
On Friday afternoon, the four party leaders — Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula and Musalia Mudavadi — issued a joint statement denying any falling-out among the affiliate parties over the House positions.
They said the differences within the NASA ranks are negligible and have been internally addressed.
They accused the media of turning a blind eye to ruling Jubilee Party’s woes while doing everything to blow out of proportion small splits in NASA.
“The coalition has been able to resolve the minor disputes like membership and leadership of House committees amicably, unlike Jubilee Party, which has had to eject members forcibly from certain committees,” they said in the statement.
“We, therefore, urge supporters to ignore media reports that are determined to create rifts where none exist while ignoring the same in Jubilee, where they are real and threatening,” they said.
Initially, ODM had nominated Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga and Aisha Jumwa (Malindi) while ANC had picked Vihiga Senator George Khaniri. But Kalonzo’s Wiper protested at what it termed exclusion, forcing Muturi to suspend the matter in November last year.
The Speaker directed that the NASA leadership in the House consult their coalition leaders and agree on the list. At that time, Kalonzo was still in Germany, attending to family matters.
The parties did not agree and when the House resumed sitting from the long recess on Tuesday, Wiper wrote to the Speaker, nominating Borabu MP Ben Momanyi. The move was denounced by ODM and ANC.
MPs from the two parties, among them Godfrey Osotsi (nominated), Ahmed Kolish (Wajir West), Mark Nyamita (Uriri) and Janet Ong’era (Kisii) told the media at Parliament Buildings on Tuesday that Kalonzo erred by presenting Momanyi’s candidature for the slot without consulting other leaders within the coalition.
“We had agreed on the issue of sharing of PSC slots but Kalonzo decided to write to the Speaker, without consulting the coalition parties. Instead of accepting the letter, Muturi should have withdrawn that process and reverted back to the coalition,” Osotsi said.
The Opposition has three slots compared to Jubilee’s four on the PSC, based on their parliamentary strength.
Wanga is bidding for a second term, having been a member in the last Parliament.
But Jubilee MPs are uncomfortable with her after she poured water on former Deputy Speaker — now Bomet governor — Joyce Laboso during a fracas in the Chamber.
She is also targetted for her frontline role in NASA’s “resist” brigade.
Jubilee reportedly made a U-turn on Khaniri too, because he is seen as one of Raila’s lieutenants in the National Resistance Movement.
But it is not all about NASA: Within Jubilee, some MPs have voiced discomfort with nominated Senator Beth Mugo and Eldas MP Adan Keynan, who have been imposed by the party leadership.
Should they be approved by the House, both Mugo and Keynan will be serving their third term on the PSC.
Others who have been nominated to represent Jubilee include Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho Senator) and Naomi Shaban (Taita Taveta).
The PSC is the premium committee of Parliament and wields a lot of power. Chaired by the Speaker of the National Assembly, it is the de facto employer of the MPs.
It controls the multi-billion-shilling budget of Parliament.
In the current financial year (2017/2018), Parliament was allocated Sh36 billion for its operations, which the commissioners will oversee.
Of this, Sh2.5 billion is going towards completion of the multi-storey building to house MPs’ offices.
At the centre of the tussle is control of multi-billion- shilling contracts, power and the privileges that come with being a commissioner.
It is also the best paying committee.
Commissioners get a sitting allowance of Sh40,000 per session and they have government vehicles assigned to them for a period of five years.
Members of the Commission also have a big say on who is employed in Parliament and determine their perks and privileges.
The Commission consists of the Speaker of the National Assembly, as the Chairman, seven Members appointed by Parliament, and one woman and one man appointed by Parliament from persons who are experienced in public affairs but are not MPs.
The Clerk of the Senate, Jeremiah Nyegenye, is the Secretary to the Commission.
The outgoing commissioners who are still in office until the next team is picked include Beth Mugo (vice chair), Adan Keynan, Jimmy Angwenyi, former Kitui senator David Musila, former Samburu Senator Sammy Leshore, Gladys Wanga, Regina Chengorok, Abdullahi Ali and Lorna Mumelo.
THE NOMINEES FOR HOTLY CONTESTED PSC SEATS
AARON CHERUIYOT: The 1986-born second-term Senator for Kericho is one of the youngest MPs. He joined Parliament through the March 2016 by-election following the appointment of Charles Keter to the Cabinet. He was re-elected on the Jubilee ticket for the second term.
BETH MUGO: The second-term (Nominated) Jubilee Senator was born in July 1939. A trained teacher, she has served the country in various capacities as an assistant minister in various dockets. Thee former MP for Dagoretti is a relative of President Uhuru Kenyatta
GLADYS WANGA: The graduate of Jomo Kenyatta University is a second-term MP, elected as the first Homa Bay Woman Representative in 2013. She served in the PSC in the last Parliament. The ODM stalwart and Raila Odinga foot soldier was one of the first members to oppose the cut in salaries and perks gazetted by the Salaries Remuneration Commission.
BEN MOMANYI: The second-term MP for Borabu on a Wiper ticket holds a Law degree from Karna University and Bachelor of Commerce degree from Marathwada University in India. He has served on both the House Business Committee and the Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. The 46-year-old lawmaker is at the centre or the NASA nomination wrangles.
GEORGE KHANIRI: Born in July 1972, he is the longest-serving legislator, since he succeeded his father, Nicodemus Khaniri, as Hamisi MP in 1996, becoming the youngest MP. The outspoken ANC politician is now serving his second term as the Vihiga Senator.
AISHA JUMWA: The vocal MP for Malindi was first elected to Parliament in 2013 as the Woman Representative for Kilifi county on an ODM ticket. Last year, she switched to the constituency and won on the ODM ticket.
NAOMI SHABAN: The Taita Taveta MP entered Parliament in 2002 via Kanu. In 2007, she defended the same and served as a Cabinet minister in Mwai Kibaki’s second and last term. She first served as minister of State for Special programmes ( 2008-2010 ) and later Gender and Children Affairs.