Why Kenya Kwanza and Azimio are fighting for Majority Leader slot

The push and pull that has characterised the August 9 polls is not over yet. The new frontier is the National Assembly Majority Leader position that pits Ugunja Constituency MP Opiyo Wandayi against Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungw’ah.

Both Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition and Kenya Kwanza are standing firm declaring each holds the majority in the August House.

In the purge that followed Azimio’s loss of the presidency and the gazettement of nominated MPs, Kenya Kwanza holds the majority with 179 of the 349 MPs while Azimio has 158 members.

In Senate, Kenya Kwanza has a slight majority with 36 members against Azimio’s 30.

Under Article 108 (2) the leader of the majority party shall be the person who is the leader in the National Assembly of the largest party or coalition of parties.

Leader of Majority was first established in 1899. And he or she is basically a party strategist.

He or she is the third most powerful person in parliament.

His or her primary functions usually relate to floor duties. The majority leader is the lead speaker for the majority party during floor debates, develops the calendar, and assists the president or speaker with program development, policy formation, and policy decisions.

This office is important more so for the ruling party if they are to pass bills that fit into their manifesto in a timely manner. In instances when the ruling party doesn’t have control of parliament, passing bills is a tougher lobbying affair that is often characterised by delays and opposition.

During Kenya Kwanza’s retreat this week, President William Ruto said that the last administration failed in the last five years because it never involved legislators in its plans. Ruto who was deputy to former President Uhuru Kenyatta said that Parliament is very important for the government’s success.

“The reason why we didn’t do so well in the last 5 years was that we didn’t engage our legislators, our legislators knew very little about our plan. That is why we must start here, you must understand & be the ones to champion our plan for it to succeed,” Ruto said.

Securing control of parliament will be key for Ruto to control the legislative agenda and make budget allocations and executive appointments. His pledges to invest at least KSh 500 billion in farming, which employs more than 40% of the workforce, and set aside KSh 50 billion annually for a so-called “Hustler Fund” to boost small businesses, may require lawmakers to review the 2022-23 national budget that was approved in April.

The National Assembly is crucial in determining funding allocations and legislation, and approves presidential appointments, including those of cabinet ministers, envoys, and heads of state agencies, while the senate’s 67 members focus mainly on matters affecting the administration of the country’s 47 counties.

Thus control in parliament is as important as the Leader of the Majority. If Kenya Kwanza is to achieve these radical changes, they not only need to get hold of the Majority Leader position but also trust that Kimani Ichungw’ah will leverage his parliamentary experience to further bills strategically and across the aisle.

The same act in section (3) provides room for the leader of the minority party who is drawn from the second largest party or coalition of parties.

The minority leader is the principal leader of the minority caucus. He or she is responsible for developing the minority position, negotiating with the majority party, directing minority caucus activities on the chamber floor, and leading debate for the minority.

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