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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Raila's party leader humiliated in race to PAC top seat

Passionate night-long lobbying, the hands-off approach of opposition leader Raila Odinga not to have a favourite man, a last-minute entry of another opposition MP plus the rare independent voting among the MPs of the ruling Jubilee coalition propelled Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo to the helm of the National Assembly's most-crucial watchdog committee.
In the Tuesday voting at the Main Parliament Buildings, Gumbo clinched the coveted influential seat in the Public Accounts Committee with 12 votes beating his party's national chairman John Mbadi (Suba) who got nine votes. Balambala MP Abdikadir Aden, who the MPs claimed was being fronted by the Jubilee coalition got four votes, while the last-minute entrant Andrew Mwadime (Mwatate) got one vote –his.
The vote was through secret ballot.
Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren) stepped down and said he was "standing by the party position, which was to elect Mbadi", but the Minority Leader Francis Nyenze, the Minority Whip Thomas Mwadeghu and the Deputy Minority Whip Chris Wamalwa, and even MPs Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East) and Silvance Osele (Kabondo Kasipul) all insisted that "there was no party position".

"We wanted democracy to prevail. They are all our members, whoever wins, he is still ours. They are all above reproach," said Nyenze in a briefing with journalists, shortly before the final vote was announced.
There were 26 MPs present in the 27-member committee – Alice Chae (Nyamira) is abroad on official duty— at yesterday's vote that brought the bad blood within the rank and file of the opposition to the fore; and also, for the second time, punched holes in the fa├žade unity of the Jubilee MPs within the committee.
For the seat of the vice chairperson, the committee elected Jackson Rop (Kipkelion West) won with 15 votes; David Bowen (Marakwet East) got 6 votes, while Joseph Manje (Kajiado North) got five votes.
The new top line-up in the PAC is a mix of the old and the new, and it has pledged to rid the committee of the lingering stench of corruption, bribery and extortion, and put it "beyond reproach like Caesar's wife".
Gumbo is a second-term MP, but a new MP in the PAC having been picked last Wednesday to replace one of the five MPs who were banned. Rop is a first-term lawmaker, but a former member of PAC in the current National Assembly, and he was among those who were rendered temporarily jobless when the committee was suspended over allegations of corruption.


First among equals
An ecstatic Gumbo addressed a news conference flanked by Rop, at which he pledged to "hit the ground running" in keeping the Jubilee administration in check.
"God is kind to those who went to school bare-footed...I reached out to every member personally, I made calls to each of them, talked to them and I told all of them that I need their vote, and I will foster teamwork and honesty within the committee. I also had a team working behind the scenes," said Gumbo.
The MP played down the defeat of his party chairman and his going against the party position.
"We are nothing really but first among equals. Each MP here has the expertise and we'll work together as a team," said Gumbo.

Rop added: "There were no winners or losers today. The committee won because we now have a team that can begin working".
All the four contestants had reportedly met on Monday night and agreed to fight it out. Wiper MP Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East) one of those who had planned to vie late Monday, dropped out Tuesday morning.
"I realised there was no point, because I already have a seat in the Speaker's Panel, in the House Business Committee, in the Rules and Procedures Committee and in PAC. These are already demanding positions, so I chose to just stay on as a member," said Mbalu.
But Mbadi was upset that the party position had been flouted.
"This is the first election I have lost in my life. The party had agreed that I get to be the chairperson and you can see nine MPs voted with me. That is not a small number knowing that we have 13 MPs in the committee. The coalition has confidence in me. But we are one team, and we'll work together," Mbadi told journalists.
His defeat, he said, did not mean he did not have absolute command of ODM.
"It was not an ODM vote, we also had Jubilee MPs and they are the majority," said Mbadi.
Although his party bosses in the House and even MPs who are his party members denied that there was an agreed position, Gumbo too confirmed to The Standard that he had heard that the party was meant to settle for Mbadi.
But Mwadeghu, Nyenze and Wamalwa insisted that the party had not reached any position on who to vote in in the elections.

"There was no parliamentary group meeting for CORD where such a resolution could be made. We said, let our members go there and vote. I heard rumours that the CORD Leader Raila Odinga had backed Mbadi, but I didn't see any official communication," said Wamalwa, the deputy minority whip.


Hustler's Jet
The huge assignment for the committee will be to rekindle the debate on report of PAC's inquiry into the controversial hiring of the luxury jet for the Deputy President William Ruto in May 2013. That report was tabled in the House a year ago, but has never been put on the table for debate.
The in-tray too has a report on the procurement audit queries at the Judiciary and the truth about the multibillion procurement of election materials, which failed during the 2013 General Election.
An MP said Abdikadir lost because his region was already represented in the other watchdog committee – the Public Investments Committee, whose chairman is second-term lawmaker Adan Keynan (Eldas). Keynan comes from Wajir County, and Abdikadir comes from Garissa County – the two counties border each other in North Eastern region of Kenya.
Prior to the voting Majority Leader Aden Duale and the Minority Leader were seen on the corridors whipping Jubilee and CORD MPs.
"I am happy that Abdikadir lost because we can't have all these people from one region. I guess MPs were focused on having someone who is outside northern Kenya. Gumbo is experienced, focused, and level-headed," added Wamalwa at a news conference at Parliament buildings.
Wamalwa, who shares the party with Eseli said "Eseli just chickened out!"
 

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