Authors: ROSELYNE OBALA AND RAWLINGS OTIENO
AfricaPress-Kenya: In the next 48 hours, President Uhuru Kenyatta will rally both Houses of Parliament and his Cabinet into executing his legacy projects in his sunset years in power.
A planned Cabinet meeting in the wilderness of Taita Taveta today will set the stage for the meeting with the leadership of both the Senate and the National Assembly tomorrow.
The two meetings have been dubbed ‘bonding sessions’, but President Kenyatta is expected to rally the support for his agenda, given the realities being experienced, including the fallout with his deputy William Ruto.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of heightened political activities by MPs in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) issue stern guidelines, later endorsed by the Cabinet.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka told The Standard it would be a familiarisation meeting following the leadership changes.
Muturi said he is not just invited but he is the one who sought the meeting for formal consultations with the leadership.
“We first broached the idea soon after the committees were reconstituted,” he said.
Similarly, Lusaka said the meeting had been planned earlier.
“This is an old meeting. We had requested for it since some of the leaders have never met the president. It will be a bonding session and the agenda is only known to the president,” Lusaka said.
He said it was purely coincidental that the meeting will follow the one by the Cabinet.
“We will discuss how the two arms of government can work together to ensure the legislative agenda is fast-tracked in a harmonious way.”
In his letter to the House leadership dated October 14, Lusaka wrote: “I have received a request from the president on the need to meet the leadership of the Senate and all committee chairs and their vice chairs.”
But a number of senators yesterday reacted to the meeting differently, with some saying the lack of a clear agenda was a pointer to a “not-so-good” meeting.
“We have never held a leadership retreat of the entire House with the president. The last meeting was convened at State House Mombasa after the president began his second term. It was exclusively a Jubilee affair for both Houses,” said a Jubilee senator who did not want to be named.
National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi said the president was keen to interact with MPs.
“I don’t think it’s about BBI. It may just come generally but he (president) says he wants an interactive session with us. We are just going for chai.”
Chief Justice David Maraga’s advisory to the president to dissolve Parliament might also feature, especially given the latest move by Deputy CJ Philomena Mwilu to appoint a five-judge bench to hear the case.
The Cabinet sessions will be held at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Training Centre at Manyani. Last week, the usual Thursday meeting at State House was reportedly very stormy, with the matter of the DP coming up for deliberation.
A Cabinet Secretary, who sought anonymity, said he and his colleagues had arrived at Manyani for a meeting whose agenda is yet to be circulated.
“I have arrived together with my other colleagues, I do not have any further details beyond that,” said the CS.
President Kenyatta could seek to use the meeting away from Nairobi in the serenity of Tsavo National Park to consolidate his Cabinet in the midst of a clear fallout with his DP.
In the State House sitting last week, five CSs accused Ruto of conducting political activities that they claimed had caused tension in the country.
A few weeks ago, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko termed the DP as a mere clerk in Kenyatta’s Cabinet. Ruto is expected at the Cabinet meeting today.
During the heat of squabbles in the Grand Coalition government of former Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, the two took their deeply divided Cabinet to Kilaguni Hotel, a few kilometres away from Manyani, to try and iron out the differences between ODM and PNU.