, NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 3 – Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro on Wednesday refused to be drawn into the wrangles in the opposition CORD coalition surrounding the de-whipping of Nyamira Senator Okong’o Mong’are following his election to chair the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee last month.
In his Communication to the House, Ethuro confirmed that he cannot go contrary to the wishes of the Party Whips who are mandated by the Parliamentary Standing Orders to take such actions as a form of ensuring members tow the party line.
“The issue of discharge of a Member as provided by Standing Order 180, provides the Speaker with absolutely no room. My job is once I get the letter from whoever is responsible, it takes effect upon receipt (and) the member is discharged. There was absolutely no requirement to inquire why or why not, how you conducted yourself before the committee that is here nor there for your Speaker,” ruled the Senate Speaker.
The Nyamira Senator was kicked out of the committee hours after his election following a decision that Minority Whip Johnson Muthama said was properly informed and empowered and that he had acted after consultations with members of the opposition coalition.
Mong’are condemned the party’s leadership terming it dictatorial.
“There are people in this country who masquerade that they are democrats whereas they are dark demons in the history of the democratization of this country. It is a dark day for me to be in this House, to be sacrificed…but history will tell and will be on my side,” ousted chairman said as he succumbed to his fate after weeks of open defiance of the Muthama’s action.
CORD Senators Wilfred Machage (Migori) and Chris Obure (Kisii) differed with Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior when they argued that whipping and de-whipping of members should be done after consulting the irrespective member.
“Whereas I respect the leadership of the party, I may not respect wrong decisions that will make our party look draconian before Kenyans. I want to be heard here Mr Speaker, what the leadership of my party did to our colleague was wrong,” Machage stated.
But in response Kilonzo Junior said: “This gospel being preached here, this is the wrong church, they should preach it elsewhere. Mr Speaker, you are the wrong priest and you should not allow yourself to be dragged into political disputes, anyone who wants to appeal should not do it here. Mr Speaker you are factus unofficial.”
Senators Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) and John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot) said the action by the opposition coalition was contemptuous of members of the powerful county expenditure and investment oversight team who had voted overwhelmingly for the Nyamira Senator, arguing that it would set a bad precedent for future elections for House teams.
“There is no amount of legalese that can go beyond the pedestrian provisions of the Constitution as understood by the most common person in this country, that gospel Senator you are talking about being preached is the gospel of freedom, it is the gospel of democracy and the gospel of human rights including of Senators when they come here, that is the gospel that we preach here,” Wamatangi charged.
Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula (who is also Mong’are party leader in Ford-Kenya) did not say a word as the members engaged in a bitter exchange.
Only last week, the ousted chairman urged CORD Principals Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Wetangu’la to intervene and end the stalemate.
The Nyamira Senator garnered 9 votes to dispose Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale – who got only 3 votes- from the helm of the Committee which has been a thorn in the flesh of governors who have found themselves unable to explain audit queries flagged by the Auditor General.
The Committee will now hold afresh poll to elect its new chair next Thursday.