• Notably, some of the senators who voted for the removal of Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki hadn't attended the Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting and never sent their apologies.
• This is ironical because it’s a tacit admittance on their part that even for them, some disciplinary action needs to be taken as well. In fact, the reason most of them did this was for self-preservation.
This week has been very interesting to many.
It was interesting because some of the senators who voted for the removal of Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki —54 against 7 — didn't attend the Jubilee Parliamentary Group meeting at State House and never sent apologies.
This is ironical because it’s a tacit admittance on their part that even for them, some disciplinary action needs to be taken. In fact, the reason most of them did this was for self-preservation.
A good number of them are chairpersons and vice chairpersons and since Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata had personally written every Jubliee senator to toe the party line, they had no excuse.
In parliamentary practice, one can always vote with his conscience on many matters. However, if the voting is based on an agreed party position, then this is what prevails, despite divergent political positions.
For the Jubilee senators, each and every one of them is either a Deputy Speaker, Parliamentary Service commissioner, a member of the Pan-African Parliament, in the speaker’s panel, sits in the powerful House Business Committee or is a chair or vice chairperson.
In fact, of the 38 and one independent, all of them have a stake since there is enough for everyone. Such is the evidence as to why parties compete for political power through elections — as the legitimate means by which one gains access to a country’s leadership.
One may ask why then there is acrimony in Jubilee Party. When there are disagreements, one thing is sure to be lost — the numbers. This means that rival NASA members can combine forces with some of the Jubilee senators and proceed to effect changes in the House leadership, including the removal of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. When such are removed, their colleagues shall be waiting in line to fill in the positions. That’s why you saw three legislators from Kirinyaga shifting political allegiance, waiting in the wings to benefit from the anticipated purge in the National Assembly.
The leadership changes will not be explained out there in any sophisticated parliamentary or political jargon but simply, the party has lost confidence in the individuals occupying such positions of privilege.
I have come to observe that ‘politics is some form of amorphous formlessness, the informal that constitutes the formal’. There are no clear rules because you cannot explain why individual A can vote for individual B and not C since there is no threshold. It’s just a choice.
In terms of a party position versus the structure of Parliament, it’s important to note that the former is the one whose numbers constitute the latter. However, there is always this question about how this game of numbers is used to place legislators into parliamentary positions, but when it comes to removal, there is always the question of the independence of Parliament.
This is to mean that the political party design must speak to the parliamentary design, and the interlocution thereof needs to be made neater, more structured and systematic through the remodeling and codification of parliamentary Standing Orders. As an evolving democracy, we can learn a lot from other jurisdictions that have been confronted with the same scenarios in the past.
However, the right to place and discipline members is the sole prerogative of the sponsoring party since such a member subscribes to certain agreed ideologies or political persuasions. It is important to note, however, that the borderline between political position and personality based politics is very thin, especially in our kind of jurisdiction. Nevertheless, it’s not unique as well.
In the UK, the Conservative Party recently expelled 22 of its dissenting members, including two former chancellors on account of defying party positions and disloyalty. Due to the shifting political alliances in the life of any parliament, such changes are bound to happen, especially around the midterm.
Politics is the art of the possible. It’s ‘who gets what, where and how', as Harold Lasswell said. There are no permanent friends or enemies, only interests that may also shift from time to time.
Relying on the mobs is shaky, for they are bound to change when interests are threatened individually. At that point in time, one realises that they are on their own. For politics depends so much on how one makes his calculations, and how he effects them through, despite competing interests and gameplans.
In my short 16 years in national politics and as I turn 38 today, I have come to observe that ‘in politics, your future allies, are your current nemesis, and your current allies are your future detractors. In the end, what matters is that you arrived at your desired goal, and position, and friend and foe, ally and the alienated will reckon, your fan in their flame’.
The game of thrones and numbers continues.