Supremacy Battle: Uhuru and Ruto fight for control of Parliament
Supremacy Battle: Uhuru and Ruto fight for control of Parliament: The supremacy battle between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto has now shifted to Parliament, with both men working separately behind the scenes to control the legislature.
The differences between the two men, sealed by the subsequent handshake between President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, has had a profound effect on the conduct of business in the two houses of Parliament.
This battle will take shape next week when the Senate votes for the Public Finance Management (National Debt) (Regulations), 2019 in what could provide the ultimate test on the relationship between the two leaders.
The House joint committee on Finance and Delegated Legislation is currently considering the regulations and is expected to submit its report on Tuesday next week when the House returns from a brief break.
The regulations provide for a numerical limit to the total public debt of Sh9 trillion in place of the current limit set at 50 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in net present value terms, which is approximately Sh6 trillion at the moment.
The National Assembly adopted the regulations three weeks ago, but only after President Kenyatta had turned to ODM and Wiper leaders for support.
Until then, Mr Ruto had mobilised his troops to shoot down the regulations, arguing that the decision on increasing the capping could only be done after the ruling party’s parliamentary group took a position on the matter.
It will be a do-or-die moment for the President because he could lose the national debt ceiling war if the Senate votes to reject the proposed amendments to the regulations.
The law provides that regulations drafted by the Executive can only take effect once they are approved by Parliament.
In approving such regulations, Parliament can only adopt or reject them in whole as there is no room for amendments.
Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Junior confirmed to the Nation that the House has become hostage to the powers of the two forces, which deny it the opportunity to conduct robust debate on the issue.
“Just wait until the report on the regulations is tabled next week and you will see the divide,” Mr Kilonzo Jr said Thursday, without elaborating.
Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny confirmed that Parliament is polarised, accusing the DP for using supporters to undermine the President.
“It is the DP who has divided Jubilee Party with the sole aim of undermining the President’s agenda,” Mr Kuttuny said yesterday, even as he confirmed the existence of tension along the two factions in Parliament.
“The MPs were duped, but I can assure you they are getting back to their senses. President Kenyatta is finally finding traction,” he added.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, a close ally of the DP, said he will rally senators to shoot down the regulations so that the national debt is maintained within the required levels.
“It is not a question of Kieleweke or Tangatanga. This matter touches on the interests of all Kenyans. We cannot allow Kenya to be auctioned by the superrich,” he told the Nation.
ODDS AGAINST UHURU
He said the economy had slowed in recent days and that it would be wrong if an additional burden is added to the already suffering public.
The vote in the Senate is particularly jittery for the President because the entire majority leadership, except Deputy Whip Irungu Kang’ata, is considered a dyed-in-the-wool Ruto supporter.
While the President has only Mr Kang’ata to turn to in the Senate, Mr Ruto has an array of options that oscillate between Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, his deputy Fatuma Dullo and majority Whip Susan Kihika — all sympathetic to the Tangatanga ideology and who had no kind words on the regulations.
Mr Kang’ata was last week busy mobilising senators across the aisle to support the President by passing the regulations.
On Thursday last week, he was seen shuttling between County Hall, the venue of the joint committee of Finance and Delegate Legislation, in the company of Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani, Deputy Chief of Staff Njee Muturi and Chief Administrative Secretary Nelson Gaichuhie.
However, the President enjoys a big advantage over the DP, if recent developments are any guide.
In addition to the State power, he has the handshake to turn to should push come to shove.
That is what the President did when it appeared the debate on debt ceiling was facing a waterloo moment in the National Assembly three weeks ago.
In the three cut-throat votes that have been taken, with clear lines drawn, the President has triumphed in two over his deputy’s one.
Last August, the pro-Ruto MPs succeeded in pushing through the House an amendment to the IEBC Act which, if adopted, will create a permanent selection panel to recruit commissioners whenever there is vacancy.
But the President’s side has been able to push through the National Assembly the nominees to the National Land Commission and the increase of the national debt ceiling.
By IBRAHIM ORUKO