LEADER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

Murkomen must quit as Senate Majority leader

The loyalty of those holding this position lies with the majority party.

In Summary
  • Legislators have freedom of speech and can discuss anything they believe represents their constituents’ interests, and vote with their conscience.
  • This is true for all legislators but the majority leader

Once upon time, a Woodman was walking home from work when he saw a serpent lying frozen on the ground and in all appearances seemed dead. He quickly picked it up, hurried home and put it close to the fire to get warm. The woodsman’s children watched it and saw it slowly come to life again.

One of the children stooped down to stroke it, but the serpent raised its head and bared its fangs to sting the child. So the woodman grabbed his axe and with one stroke cut the serpent in two.

Last week I was surprised, while watching Senate proceedings, to see Leader of Majority Kipchumba Murkomen openly oppose the takeover of some Nairobi county government functions by the national government.

Legislators have freedom of speech and can discuss anything they believe represents the interests of the people they serve, and vote with their conscience. This may be true for all legislators, but not the majority leader.

This is because the majority leader occupies a special place in the hierarchy of not only the majority party but also the country. The persons holding this position are expected to be strategic in how they paint the majority party’s position on issues.

The majority leader in any house of parliament is the de facto leader of government business. Their role is to push through the majority’s, in this case the Jubilee administration, agenda in the house.

Murkomen did not seem to understand why the party had taken the position President Uhuru Kenyatta and Governor Mike Sonko took on Nairobi.

There have been instances where Murkomen has openly defied party lines and gone against the party leader. These include Uhuru’s order on lifestyle audit. Murkomen went on national TV and said he will not do it. Another instance was during the Mau Forest evictions, where he accused the government of going against its own people.

The position of leader of majority, and in some cases leader of government business in parliament, is not a Kenyan affair. We have seen it in all other jurisdictions across the world.

The recent impeachment of Donald Trump showed how important majority leaders are in the US Senate. Before even the issue came up for voting, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell led in mobilising the party members against the impeachment.

In the UK we saw Gareth Johnson, who was the Conservative Whip – a position similar to majority leader – resign in 2019 following former Prime Minister Theresa May’s move on Brexit.

It is, thus, clear that the loyalty of those holding this position lies with the majority party, in most cases, which is the ruling party. Their role has been recorded as one that ensures that not only MPs but also the public understand the policy positions and decisions taken by the government.

And when they cannot do it, they are either removed or resign.

There have been instances where Murkomen has openly defied party lines and gone against the party leader. These include Uhuru’s order on lifestyle audit. Murkomen went on national TV and said he will not do it. Another instance was during the Mau Forest evictions, where he accused the government of going against its own people.

This was also the case with the Sonko corruption case. While Uhuru’s position was that senators should keep away from the courts, Murkomen defied this and vowed to continue supporting Sonko.

The senator has also been among those who have defied Uhuru’s call for Jubilee MPs to desist from politicising the Building Bridges Initiative and focus on delivering Jubilee’s agenda.

With the latest open attack on the Nairobi county issue, Murkomen has shown that he does not have the Jubilee Party interests at heart. The Leader of Majority has a role to lead the majority troops in the House to follow the party’s position; without it chaos will reign.

It is time the Senate Majority leader stepped down, failing which Jubilee Party should elect another leader who is willing to support the party leader.