By Mumbi Mutoko
House Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa, on Wednesday, February 15, moved a motion to amend the Constitution and asked Parliament to consider creating the official Office of the Opposition Leader. The proposal was, among four others, sent as a memorandum from President William Ruto to Parliament.
While making his submissions, Ichung’wa stated that his party, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), wants to create a legally-backed office for the Opposition Leader at the precincts of Parliament.
“There are Kenyans who imagine this is another way of appeasing particular leaders, but this proposal is not a way of creating a position for Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, or Martha Karua. This is a position we seek to create for posterity,” said Ichung’wa.
“It is an opportunity that the minority party to have meaningful leadership and an office they can call up to for guidance in leadership, and for them to hold the government to account and ensure that it delivers on its promises.”
The Ichung’wa proposal is backed by Tharaka Member of Parliament George Murungara, who noted that despite Kenya having a Presidential system, there are aspects that coincide with the parliamentary system.
”It is important to know where to find the Leader of the Opposition. We want to hear from the leader of the Opposition on his views on matters before the Committees; if we go to Capitol Hill, we will be accused of going to be ‘cleansed’ (seek favours),” Murungara said.
Voicing opposition to the move, nominated MP and ODM chairman John Mbadi termed the move by President William Ruto and his party as dishonest, opining that Ichung’wa should not lead the charge in amending the Constitution at a time when Kenyans are struggling to put meals on the table.
“Constitutional amendments are not a priority. The cost of living is very high. Food is unaffordable; we have a severe drought situation in the country. I wish President Ruto would stick to the script used while he was campaigning and gives the people of Kenya a bearable life, instead of writing memorandums to the House,” Mbadi stated. “These are issues we can deal with later.”
Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo shared similar sentiments, stating that the memorandum tabled in Parliament cannot pass without a referendum.
“Three out of four issues raised in the President’s memorandum require a referendum. The issue of the official office of the Opposition Leader touches on, among others, the sovereignty of the people, the structure of governance, and the system of government. The idea of amending our constitution is not bad, but a constitutional amendment should always be bipartisan; the public must be involved.”