President William Ruto is expected to table his proposals on the position and office of the official opposition leader before the National Assembly on Thursday, kick-starting a conversation that could see the position anchored in law.
Already a proposal floated by a section of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party leaders has been brought forward, however a substantive Bill has yet to be tabled on the floor of the House.
During a Kenya Kwanza Parliamentary Group meeting, President Ruto urged MPs to rally behind the proposal which would make the minority more effective in keeping the government in check.
Owen Baya, the National Assembly Deputy Majority Leader, said: “To have an acceptable system in a democracy you need a strong opposition that is well resourced, has avenues to reach government and engage in national dialogue without hindrances. That is why we are confident such a position in this country will take the country forward.”
With the party or coalition of parties with the second highest votes automatically taking up the position, there are provisions that the party can nominate a representative.
Azimio in its proposal wants the leader of official opposition be allowed to address Parliament annually.
The tabling of the President’s proposal is expected to open an avenue for possible negotiations with word rife that a joint Bill generated is likely to be sponsored by Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah.
“The President has not had a sitting with the minority side to agree on a proposal, they are his thoughts from as early as February…probably the opposition has borrowed from Chatham, a proposal we have not seen,” said Ichung’wah.
The Kenya Kwanza team, which is rallying behind the President’s call, said an emboldened opposition will be more effective in policing the government and ensuring it delivers on its mandate.
“President Kibaki was one time a leader of official opposition…President Kenyatta was ineffective leader of opposition, look at what happened then…if you’re talking about muzzling of the opposition then it came with the handshake because it was an unothrodox way of muzzling the opposition,” said Ichung’wah.
Silvanus Osoro, the Majority Whip on his part said: “This thing of imagining that official opposition leader is a preserve of Raila Odinga…he can be a president one day so why would we assume its for Raila? We don’t know who will be opposition leader in 2027, laws don’t operate retrogressively .”
Gatundu South MP Gabriel Kagombe stated: “If it comes it does not necessarily mean that the person exercising the powers of the opposition is necessarily the person who vied in the last election, it could be in the office so they nominate someone it could be Kalonzo Musyoka.”
In one of the proposals, the official opposition leader will have immunity from prosecution, will be funded by the exchequer and will also be allowed to mobilise funding from donors to meet its obligations.
“The proposal now is not to make the opposition part of government, it’s to make sure you have an effective opposition that can check the government,” added Ichung’wah.
The proposers of the emerging bills say their actions will anchor the office in the Constitution, clearly define their roles and mandates and facilitate accountability for all the public resources utilised.
Sourced from citizen Digital