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Duale ruffles feathers in Jubilee, House with his leadership style
PHOTO | FILE Jubilee MPs led by Mr Duale (centre) address the media after he was elected as the Majority Leader in April.
PHOTO | FILE Jubilee MPs led by Mr Duale (centre) address the media after he was elected as the Majority Leader in April.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Daily Nation
Sunday, May 19, 2013

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A section of MPs in Jubilee coalition are reportedly uncomfortable with the manner in which their affairs in the National Assembly are being handled.

The lawmakers are understood to have raised the complaint at a Parliamentary Group meeting last Tuesday where they plotted to overturn the decision by the Committee on Appointments to reject the nomination of Ms Phyllis Kandie to the Cabinet.

Their grouse is reportedly about the style adopted by Majority Leader Aden Duale. They are reported to have complained at the meeting that he is often too abrasive and overbearing in his running of their affairs.

They said he had not done a good job of listening to their pleas, passing them on to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

Outside the closed-door meeting, though, none of the legislators was willing to go on record with the complaints for fear of antagonising the coalition’s leadership.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday evening as MPs approved the membership of departmental, select and oversight committees, Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki spoke of the discomfort within Jubilee.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to urge the leadership of Jubilee to allow various committee membership to elect their own leadership without cajoling, without blackmail, because initially when we were appointing the various leaders of our coalition, we built a lot of consensus and we would like to be left on our own to pick the leadership of our committees,” he said.

Mr Mbiuki said he was uncomfortable with a message circulated amongst MPs about how the leadership of the 24 teams named that day would be distributed among the alliance parties.

The suggestion, he said, was that members of Jubilee affiliate parties would take committees considered less powerful, such as the Catering and Health Club Committee, and this brought connotations of them being undermined.

“We have a lot of respect for each and every member who has been placed in a particular committee and they have the capacity and will to offer the right leadership,” he said.

Jubilee enjoys a comfortable majority in the House, and the leadership of the committees is already understood to have been agreed on even before the elections.

At the Budget Committee on Friday, for example, the election of The Rev Mutava Musyimi as a chairman was a no-contest.

“This is politics. People meet, they negotiate…” Rev Musyimi told reporters when asked whether he was assured of the seat beforehand. In the absence of the committees over the past month, Mr Duale has come into his own as the first Majority Leader.

The absence of ministers in Parliament also means that the Garissa Town MP has become a critical link between the Executive and the Legislature— often playing the role of minister.

He has presented several statements on behalf of the Executive and has also taken the heat.

On Thursday as MPs discussed his statement that Mr Ruto “did not order the deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces in Mandera”, Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno wondered how Parliament can hold to account the Majority Leader yet he is just an MP like the rest and isn’t a member of the Executive.

“In his response, Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi said there would be more clarity once the committees start work proper.

Mr Duale’s presentations have also been boisterous, and he angered those protesting against MPs’ onslaught on the Salaries and Remuneration Commission with his bold statement the day Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi tabled his petition.

“The citizenry must come to the reality (that) on the 4th of March, they went to the polls and they elected the 349 men and women in this House. If they are thieves it is the Kenyan people who are thieves,” he said.

Mr Duale refused to comment on this matter but granted it could just be that the new MPs who form the majority of the House are just not used to his style of doing things.

One of the MPs we spoke to said it is possible these are just teething problems and the simmering issues are likely to evaporate once the MPs settle down to business in the committees.

So many politicians, each arguing their cause, is also likely to be a source of a lot of frayed nerves and to create a potent mix of egos and attitudes.

In the US, the majority leader advances the legislative agenda of their party and regularly consults both sides of the House to either support or defeat Bills and other matters in the House.

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