Newly appointed National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya made a false start in his first major assignment in the house after he was heckled over the distribution of plum committee positions formerly held by Deputy President William Ruto allies.
Reports indicate that the select committee meeting whose main agenda was to share Jubilee purge spoils turned chaotic after the Kipipiri MP declined to allow any changes proposed by the majority and minority sides.
While opposing changes on the list, Kimunya reportedly claimed that the list had been endorsed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and that he could not change even a comma.
The move angered some MPs who attended the meeting with a high ranking Jubilee member calling Kimunya a dictator.
“We thought Kimunya had changed and humbled, but the meeting was an indicator that he is the very same Kimunya. He declined to listen to us and adamantly insisted on pushing through the list only for him to eat the humble pie on the floor of the House,” an MP, who attended the meeting, told the Standard.
The meeting, according to minority leader John Badi, was meant to make changes to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC), the Committee on Delegated Legislation and Budget and Appropriations Committee that were formally chaired by key Ruto allies – Baringo North MP William Cheptumo, Uasin Gishu Woman Rep Gladys Shollei and Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, respectively.
The three were among key Ruto allies who were stripped of house committee roles for being critical to the Uhuru and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s handshake and the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Pro-handshake MPs, in the Uhuru and Odinga camps, were not satisfied with the draft list of members in the committees.
They claimed that the membership was tilted to DP Ruto’s allies who would frustrate the BBI report when tabled before them and hence demanded a shakeup.
Asked on what transpired during the meeting, Kimunya stated that some MPs, who felt entitled by the fact that they are close to Uhuru and Odinga, wanted to dictate on who should be on the list, demands he rejected.
“There are people who came with the thought that they were coming to pick and place. They came with this mentality that we are now the people to distribute the cake, but the mandate of the committee in placing membership is done in consultation with parties and the parties’ leadership,” said Kimunya.
“When I corrected them on the mandate before us some of them were a little uneasy, but we finally dealt with the matter amicably.”
Jubilee Vice Chairperson David Murathe defended Kimunya further calling on ODM and Jubilee MPs to drop their sense of entitlement and admit that even Ruto allies had a right to serve in committees.
“There is no room for any further consultations on the list. The president knows the competencies of each of these people and has distributed the positions according to his belief on the capacity of each MP. Besides you cannot dictate which committee you want to serve in,” he said.
Kimunya replaced Garissa Township MP Aden Duale as majority leader a few weeks ago during a meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), Nairobi.
MPs allied to Uhuru accused Duale, a Ruto ally, of having failed the loyalty test.
Yesterday, Ruto accused a section of Jubilee leadership of removing his allies from their positions, as part of efforts to frustrate his 2022 political ambitions.
Speaking in Nandi, Ruto said that apart from his political allies, other leaders in parastatals have been threatened that corruption proceedings will be opened against them, or they will lose the positions.
“There are many people being threatened ‘you’ll be taken to court, you’ll be taken to KRA, you’ll be taken to EACC, you will be demoted, you’ll be flushed from that office’, and not because they have done anything wrong, not because they are unable to fulfil their duties, but because they are friends to Kenya’s Deputy President,” said Ruto.
Terming the developments as a “demon of division” Ruto urged Kenyans to pray for his allies and the country to avoid such divisions.