Azimio, Kenya Kwanza MPs clash over Moses Wetangula’s eligibility to vie for Speaker
Drama was on Thursday witnessed
at the National Assembly in the lead-up to the voting for the House Speaker, after
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya legislators opposed the candidature of Kenya Kwanza
frontman Moses Wetangula.
Wetangula was elected to serve for another term as Bungoma Senator at the August 8, 2022 polls, but has since resigned from the position to run for Speaker of the National Assembly.
Azimio’s TJ Kajwang, who is the Ruaraka MP, rose to question the eligibility of Wetangula to run for the seat claiming the circumstances under which he resigned are unconstitutional.
Kajwang alleged that Wetangula submitted his resignation a day after the General Election, an action he says is invalid since then Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka – to whom the resignation was reportedly sent – had been elected Bungoma Governor by then, hence the Speaker’s office was considered vacant.
“I raise a Constitutional fundamental issue on Senator Moses Wetangula, whether he is eligible as a candidate for Speaker. The Constitution says a person is qualified if that person is not a member of this House, and if he is a member of the other House, he has submitted his resignation to the Speaker,” said the Ruaraka MP.
“I have learnt, reliably, that that person (Wetangula) submitted his resignation letter on August 9, 2022 allegedly to the Speaker of that House. The Speaker to whom he allegedly delivered his resignation letter was already an elected Governor. According to the Constitution, the term expires at the date of the General Election. The term of this House, and the term of the other House expired on August 8.”
He added: “The term of the Speaker of that House expired at the time when that person was elected as Governor. It means that on August 9, there was no Speaker to whom the candidate could have given his resignation papers. The fact of the matter is that if you have an office without a substantive holder thereof, then that office is no office.”
He further implored the National Assembly acting Clerk Serah Kioko to dismiss Wetangula’s candidature on what he termed as grounds of integrity.
“There is a valid resolution of this House, on record, which says that that person is not eligible to hold a public office in Kenya, arising out of matters concerning integrity,” said Kajwang.
Kenya Kwanza-allied Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah however rubbished Kajwang’s assertions as mere innuendos saying, matter of factly, that Wetangula resigned from his Senate seat after being gazetted by IEBC and not a day after emerging victor.
Ichung’wah also said the Constitution allows for the Speaker of either House of Parliament to continue serving until their replacement is elected, hence stating that Wetangula’s resignation letter is still valid regardless of when he submitted it.
“It is not true what TJ Kajwang alleges that Wetangula resigned on August 9. It is preposterous for TJ Kajwang to make an allegation in this House that he cannot substantiate by way of tabling a copy of that letter he purports. Wetangula resigned two days after the gazzettement of Senators by IEBC. What he (TJ Kajwang) is saying can only be equated to what they said was opaque,” he said.
“It is true that the term of the 12th Parliament ended on August 8; but it is true for TJ Kajwang and myself and Wetangula who was a Senator in the 12th Parliament. But the office of the Speaker exists in perpetuity…today as we speak, JB Muturi is still the Speaker of the National Assembly until a new Speaker is elected this afternoon. I beseech that we do not spend a lot of time that could be described as rumours, hot air, and opaque.”
The Kikuyu MP’s remarks were reiterated by his fellow Kenya Kwanza leader Aden Duale who not only opined that Wetangula’s resignation was valid, but that it was also unnecessary.
Duale, the Garissa Township MP, said Wetangula would still have been eligible to vie for the position of Speaker of National Assembly even without resigning from the Senate since, technically, he wasn’t even a Senator yet then as he had not been sworn in.
He therefore dismissed Kajwang’s sentiments as sideshows, urging Clerk Kioko to hasten the process and proceed to the election of the House Speaker.
“Before I took an oath as a member for Garissa Township, I was not a State officer. And, in that consequence, Moses Wetangula ceased to be the Senator for Bungoma on August 9, 2022. From then to this afternoon, before he submitted his resignation, he is a Senator-elect. In fact, my submission is that based on Article 74 of the Constitution that you become a State officer when you take an oath or an affirmation, Wetangula was not under any legal or Constitutional obligation even to resign. Resign from what? He is not a State officer,” he said.
“Even if Wetangula did not resign, based on Article 74 of the Constitution, he is not a Senator of the 3rd Senator because he has not taken an oath of office. Those who want to vote for Kenneth Marende, I have served under him as the Speaker, those who want to vote for Moses Wetangula, will vote for him. Let us stop the shenanigans and sideshows, and let us go and have a Speaker so that next week we go to orientation so that we start implementing the Kenya Kwanza Hustler Fund as fast as possible.”
Nominated MP John Mbadi, who is allied to the Azimio camp, however agreed with his counterpart Kajwang saying Wetangula’s candidature should not be allowed.
“Assuming office is not the same thing as being elected. The moment the Returning Officer in your electoral area pronounces you as elected, it is only the court of law which can reverse that decision; whether you take oath of office or not. Once you have been elected, pronounced as such, gazetted in the Kenya Gazette, you become a Senator,” said Mbadi.
Acting Clerk Serah Kioko however allowed Wetangula to vie for the Speaker position saying she was certified that he had met all the necessary qualifications.
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