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National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale defends his combative politics

Storyline:National News

National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale has described himself as an honest defender of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Government and dismissed claims by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga that he is the President’s attack dog.

He threw back the gauntlet and demanded that Raila looks at his own history because he has used outspoken senators and MPs from Nyanza and other parts like the Coast as his attack dogs.

“I am ready to fight for the President and his deputy when they come under unwarranted attacks from Raila and his troops both inside and outside Parliament,” said Duale.

He accused the Opposition of causing confusion because Kenya now has a presidential system of government, where the Office of the Leader of the Majority has equal powers to those enjoyed by the Prime Minister in the Grand Coalition Government. “The mandate of the Leader of Majority includes representing the Executive in the House, signing Bills, moving government motions and coordinating between the Legislature and the Executive,” said Duale.

The following is part of the interview with Duale:

QUESTION: So how can you describe your office?

ANSWER: I am the spokesperson of the Jubilee coalition with the mandate of responding to all issues raised by the Opposition and their leaders. But Raila has demanded that you stop responding to issues he has addressed to the President? He should know that my position is like that of the Leader of Government Business under the old Constitution. But sometimes you have engaged in personal attacks? I have not committed any crime. I am doing my job as provided in the Constitution and Raila and his brigade should therefore be tolerant.

You have been steadfast in defending Jubilee coalition agenda in the House but Parliament remains sharply divided along party lines?

The Opposition has been weak since 2003 when NARC won with a landslide majority but we now have a critical number of 132 Opposition MPs.

The Jubilee side has been accused of using the “tyranny of numbers” to frustrate the Opposition and push through its agenda despite protests from the Opposition and the public?

No, that is not true. Remember in 2003, Narc had the “tyranny of numbers” while the Opposition Kanu party had only 61 MPs, while in 2007 after the National Coalition Government took office, everybody was in government as compared to today when we have a large number of Opposition MPs in Parliament.

So what is the problem then?

We now have a presidential system of government with the offices of the Leader of Majority and the Leader of Minority who should both bring their agenda to the house. So they should not blame the Government for their failures.

But should you always disagree with anything they table in the House?

We disagree on government Bills, the budget speech and on external issues like the teachers’ strike and the impeachment of CSs and adjournment motions they table to discuss the Government. You seem to suggest that the Opposition has some shortcomings?

Exactly, and that is because the Opposition’s top leadership does not operate from Parliament and so the leadership in the House does not represent the wishes of members. Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka are the ones calling the shots. You mean your counterpart Mr Francis Nyenze does not take charge of his MPs like you do?

Most of the Opposition agenda is discussed at parliamentary group meetings held outside Parliament with instructions from Raila and Kalonzo.

Is there anything you have done the Opposition has not done?

I have signed over 85 Bills, brought over 20 sessional papers and over 30 government regulations, as well as moving motions for the Government and my counterpart has not signed a single Bill.

What then should be done to create more synergy between the Government and the Opposition?

It is difficult because Kenya, as a country, is divided by the political class and the political parties that are predominantly built along tribal lines. ODM is for Luo Nyanza, Wiper is for the Akamba, TNA for Mt Kenya, URP for Rift Valley, Ford Kenya for Western and Ford People for Kisii.

So who would you blame for that?

It is the five big tribes, namely the Kikuyu and their Mt Kenya sister communities; the Luhya, Kalenjin, Luo and the Akamba that should be blamed for perpetuating tribalism and its resultant challenges like corruption.
Did you say they are perpetuating corruption?

Yes. It happens in Parliament when names are brought for vetting. They run around saying, “huyo ni mtu wetu” (that is our person) please help him or her go through despite the baggage such persons may be carrying. Why hasn’t the leadership of the country taken steps to deal with tribalism?

The Jubilee coalition is bringing all parties under one roof so that we have only one party that will be launched by the President and his Deputy on December 18 in Kasarani and we expect CORD to follow suit so that we have only two strong parties and not those belonging to ethnic chiefs.

Tell us more about corruption? It is pervasive in all sectors of the country, from the public to the private sector, the Judiciary, Parliament, the Executive and other areas. It has led to insecurity in the country because terrorists have bought citizenship from corrupt officers.

All officers working in offices that deal with corruption like the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Director of Public Prosecution, the Auditor General and the police among others need to be vetted afresh. Why the office of the Auditor General?

The most alarming corruption is going on in the county governments, and yet his officers go there and come back with reports giving accused culprits a clean bill of health.

You and I know what happens. What about the Kenyan society? They are also to blame. The Kenyan society is corrupt, that is why parents cheer when they see their sons and daughters driving big cars without asking the source of the money.