Those who signed to back ouster of Deputy Speaker say they had no option but to toe the party line.
Six Jubilee nominated senators who had snubbed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s State House meeting have abandoned Deputy President William Ruto to support the ouster of his ally Kithure Kindiki.
The six have now thrown the Senate Deputy Speaker under the bus as they bow to pressure from the wing of the ruling Jubilee Party allied to the president.
Senators Millicent Omanga, Falhada Iman, Naomi Waqo, Victor Prengei, Christine Zawadi and Mary Seneta have all signed the Motion to oust Prof Kindiki, which is scheduled for debate tomorrow.
Apart from Ms Zawadi, who apologised for skipping the meeting, which was interpreted as defiance against President Uhuru, the other five are now facing possible expulsion by the ruling party after they were referred to a disciplinary committee.
Yesterday, Speaker Ken Lusaka told The Standard the Motion had been approved by the Senate Business Committee (SBC) and a special sitting set for tomorrow.
“I have gazetted the special sitting after the SBC that I chair approved the special Motion,” Lusaka confirmed.
At least 49 of the 67 members had by Tuesday signed for the Motion with three more expected before the special sitting is convened.
According to the Standing Orders, the Special Motion should be debated seven days after the sponsor has issued a notice in the House.
Kindiki’s removal has, however, been fast-tracked and will now be considered within three days.
Pressure by the party in whipping its members to back the Motion was well captured by Zawadi, who admitted that they had no choice but to back the decision.
“I have signed for impeachment Motion because this is what the party wants. It is about the party and we have no choice, especially for us the nominated,” she said.
“This is the same way we did with the others who have since been removed from office,” she added.
Ms Omanga yesterday declined to comment on what informed her decision to back the ouster. She hang up when contacted. Efforts to get a comment from Seneta bore no fruit, as her calls went unanswered and she did not respond to text messages. Waqo’s phone remained off for the better part of yesterday.
It also emerged that Central Kenya Senators had abandoned Kindiki, who is from the region, save for John Kinyua (Laikipia) and Mithika Linturi (Meru), who had not signed in support of the Motion by yesterday.
Embu Senator Njeru Ndwiga confirmed backing the Motion, explaining that it was the Jubilee Party position in the Senate and he was bound by the same.
“The party made a decision, and our business is to support the Motion and the President’s agenda. Kindiki is one of the best Deputy Speakers the Senate has had and we felt reluctant to support the Motion, but on the other hand we must comply with the party position,” said Ndwiga.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, who also signed for the ouster, said the election and removal of a speaker or deputy was not a recruitment process but political.
“Numbers were used to elect and the same will be used to remove. It has little to do with competence. We (leadership) serve at the pleasure of our coalition of political parties and there is no middle ground,” said the Minority Whip.
“I am aware Prof Kindiki was asked to resign to avoid colleagues being put in a catch 22-situation of removing him from office,” Mr Kilonzo Jnr added.
Ruto allies in the House have criticised the impeachment, accusing their rivals of taking instructions from the Executive and party bosses.
The sacked Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and Susan Kihika (now former Majority Whip) said the ongoing purge was an indication that MPs had lost independence, adding that the process was in total contravention of the Standing Orders.
“For the first time ever, a notice of Motion that’s not in the Order Paper was given. Notice doesn’t show the charges against Deputy Speaker. Our Senate, which was already weakened, is now being murdered. County Assemblies are doing better. Senate is now a county council, a Kangaroo court,” Mr Murkomen charged.
Ms Kihika shared similar views while arguing that the political wrangles in Jubilee should not be used to settle scores in a position that should be impartial.
“Speaker or deputy speaker’s office should be devoid of party politics. Is it now obvious what we have been saying that Parliament is dead? When the Deputy Speaker is removed because he failed to attend a party meeting in State House, which has nothing to do with the functions of the office,” charged Kihika.
A senior party official yesterday confirmed that they had marshaled the requisite numbers to remove Kindiki from office.
“We are required to raise 45 (two-thirds) and we already have over 50 senators in support. There is no two ways about it; we have to remove him. Whoever will replace him will be decided by the members,” said the official at the heart of the purge in Parliament.
“The party’s choice is Prof Margret Kamar, and she has no room to decline. This will be determined after we are done with Kindiki,” he added.
Yesterday, The Standard established that Uhuru’s wing of the party had reached out to the Raila Odinga-led ODM to consider taking up the position in the event Kamar and Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja decline the offer.
The Orange party is reportedly fronting nominated Senator Judy Pareno and Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo.