‘I ALSO HAVE AMBITIONS’

I attend Ruto events as state official, not supporter - Lusaka

Speaker dismisses claims his association with the DP has affected his independence in Senate work

In Summary

• Lusaka rejected claims that he has pledged allegiance to the deputy president.

• There have been concerns that he often takes his cue from politicians allied to the DP.

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka during an interview with the Star in his office at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, on Monday
Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka during an interview with the Star in his office at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, on Monday
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka on Monday dismissed claims he is a protégé of DP William Ruto and promised to continue accompanying him in his weekend whirlwind tours.

Lusaka defended his presence at Ruto's rallies and fundraisers, particularly in Western, saying he accompanies the DP as a high-ranking state official from the region and not as his supporter. 

He told the Star in an interview at his office that his presence does not affect his independence when executing Senate roles. The trips have not affected his sobriety and sense of responsibility insofar as his duties are concerned, he sought to assure Kenyans.

The Senate boss was responding to concerns raised by observers that his presence at political rallies is putting the House into disrepute. There have also been concerns that he often takes his cue from politicians allied to the DP, hence pledging allegiance to him.

But Lusaka rejected the claims, asserting that he has never pledged allegiance to the deputy president.

"Have you ever heard me, even during those events, say that I will support so and so? Of course, I'm a politician and I'm ambitious. When the time for politics comes, we will make the announcements," he said.

"I know there are people pillorying me on television talk shows and gatherings that I'm not independent, that I'm doing DP's bidding. That's hogwash."  

Lusaka said he is a former governor from the region and that gives him more rights to receive the DP whenever he visits, adding that it is dictated by protocol.

"How would it appear if the DP of the republic toured the Western region and the highest-ranking state official from the area is missing? What will my people think of me?" Lusaka asked.

He said the tours have afforded him the opportunity to interact with residents and familiarise himself with their plight — "a fact that is important to me given I'm still young and ambitious".

He added that while conducting his House duties, he remains neutral and objective, dealing with issues evenhandedly without any political leaning. 

"[It is this mature leadership] that has made the House under me to be respected and regarded as the House of reason."

Lusaka called for constitutional changes to elevate the stature and powers of the Senate and enable it to handle more crucial matters of the state with levelheadedness and maturity.

"This House is called the gathering of elders. Rightly so because most of the members are experienced and are even former members of the Cabinet. Hence, the quality of debate is dispassionate and thoughtful." 

He dismissed the perception of bad blood between him and his National Assembly counterpart Justin Muturi, adding that their working relationship is cordial. 

(Edited by F'Orieny)