Five things we learnt from Parliament this week

Onyonka also wants to be called The Man

It is not often that a man like Richard Onyonka stands on the national stage, grabs the microphone and is illuminated for so long that he becomes the topic of discussion of Twitter.

But the gasps of astonishment were loud on Thursday evening after he sat at a table arrayed with microphones and sound recorders at Parliament’s media centre and made the startling revelation that the Government would be perfectly comfortable to sit across the table and negotiate with the Al Shaabab.

Not only would the Government be happy to negotiate, said the youthful assistant minister (some prefer to refer to his ilk as junior ministers) but was aware of the presence of the Al Shaabab in Nairobi and had records of where their property is located.

One can tell how intense the rain is by the noise on the roof, and this noise was enough to rouse that impartial and apolitical and interfering man, the self-proclaimed fire fighter Francis Muthaura, from his Harambee House office.

Muthaura was among the first to contradict the junior minister.

Onyonka is yet to say he has been misquoted, in which case I would proffer a recording of his remarks, but he was actively pushing a long opinion matter on the matter on Saturday after other Government officials contradicted and clarified his remarks.

Well, it turns out minister Moses Wetang’ula is far away in Australia, where every African country has rushed to offer its support to Kenya against that very vile Somali Islamist group, and his assistant had to get into the limelight somehow.

We are yet to find out whether Onyonka intends to emulate Orwa Ojode aka Sirikal in the making of loud and amazing revelations, but we now know that he has a voice, and he also aspires to be The Man.

It is possible to shut Ojode up

There’s no denying the fact Orwa Ojode is quite the showman, and knows how to silence his colleagues in Parliament, the better if he is lecturing them on the need to show their identity cards, remove their belts and shoes and subject themselves to a full frisking before they board flights to Northern Kenya.

But he can also be silenced on security matters, it emerged last Tueday, if one is calm enough to see through the chinks in the armour he so effectively throws on when answering questions.

It was the calm and smiling former journalist Yusuf Hassan Abdi, the new MP for Kamukunji, who caught the man from Ndhiwa offside last Tuesday.

It turns out that although Ojode knows that the head of the Al-Shaabab is in Eastleigh, he knows not and can therefore tell anybody where the police post there is located, or whether there is another one at Muthurwa.

He got off lightly, as Speaker Kenneth Marende had spotted the swamp he was wading into, but the older members would perhaps have learnt that when it comes to Ojode, the old hectoring speech won’t do—ask a simple and specific question, and smile.

There is no shortage of possible reasons to fight

I should also add to the above that that there is no shortage of apologists and naysayers, but perhaps that would have some political conspiracy theorists wagging tongues.

The barrage of harsh words this past week was directed at the Prime Minister for the reported mishandling by staff at his office of the Kazi Kwa Vijana funds.

Youth and Sports assistant minister Kabando wa Kabando applied his linguistic skills in his condemnation of the PM before the mantle was taken up by Dr Boni Khalwale, the man whose tongue can sting when his head is hot.

He also chairs the powerful (is there a powerless?) Parliamentary Accounts Committee and he has declared they will be meeting officials from the World Bank, and they are the horse whose mouth they want to speak, about that missing cash.

Well, the head of heat had risen quite high by the time Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi presented the statement on behalf of the PM.

He did not have a tough time with the questions, though, as they were asked by ODM stalwarts Millie Odhiambo-Mabona, John Mbadi, Ababu Namwamba et al, and they were not the sort that gets him hot under the collar.

To ensure they have a chance to take a stab at the PM’s heart proper, Dr Khalwale and Co. still get to have the PM answer the specific queries raised by Eugene Wamalwa, the so-called brother to Jay Z, on Wednesday.

There is still some fighting to be done.

We can always hush these things up

The renovations to the big chamber were supposed to have been complete by the end of June, but apart from the loud drilling that disturbs meetings at Committee Room 9, there has been a loud silence over the delay.

The little birds whisper that only one person bid to bring the nice and soft leather seats needed, and there has been a bit of a worry that he might just deliver whatever he gets on the market in China.

There was going to be a delay anyway, given that this is still a government job, but the heat has been generated by another quarter, the perpetually unhappy MPs.

This has come in the form of that loudly filed motion by the pugnacious MP for Gwassi, John Mbadi, seeking to reconstitute the Parliamentary Service Commission.

Not only is it male-dominated, the lions have also been realized to be the selfish types, the sort that does not allow jackals to have a bit of the meat, the sort, in short, that imagines that everybody else is fine.

The situation gets sticky when a man with some clout such as one Jakoyo Midiwo steps in and complains too.

Well, the little birds now say that Mbadi was quietly asked aside over the motion and convinced the matter can be best addressed by the wazee at an informal meeting.

So laid back is the atmosphere at these sort of meetings they are referred to as Kamukunjis   and there are no records kept and not much given out to the Press.

The chambers have a red/maroon/scarlet/whatever wall-to-wall carpet, and if you spread the stuff thin enough, one would hardly notice it was there in the first place.

The quiet man has a voice

I don’t bet a lot of people outside Bonchari Constituency know who Charles Onyancha is.

I also don’t bet a lot of people know who Alfred Bwire is, outside Butula and the general area is.

The two MPs are uncommonly quiet and do not quite fit the profile of a typical Kenyan MP—quiet, pugnacious, publicity-hungry, attention-grabbing, rolling on the tarmac shouting (ok, only Sonko does that) and generally irritating.

This little piece is about Charles, who we learnt this week is a member of the Public Accounts Committee and is the quiet bespectacled man in a blue suit that quietly ruminates about a statement before he makes it.

When the noise about the supposedly lost KKV money got irritatingly loud and Dr Boni Khalwale got too hot behind his ears, Charles shot up and quietly suggested the PAC chairman was lying.

Here is what he said:

Mr. C. Onyancha: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, Sir. I have listened to the contributions of hon. Members and the PAC has been mentioned several times. I want to say with regard to Kazi Kwa Vijana Programme that our Committee is not yet properly seized with the matter.

The fact that the Chairman went out and gave a statement and went beyond where he should have reached, has given a wrong impression.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, we will be meeting the World Bank tomorrow to see whether they have any valid report. As a Committee, we have not apportioned any blame to anybody. So, any impression which might have been given out there by the chairman’s statements and by anybody in this House is erroneous and should be withdrawn.

Read that again.

The good man says the committee is not properly seized of the matter and all goes along well enough until he says the same committee is meeting some World Bank official over the same said matter.

He has a voice, and we have heard it.


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