On Tuesday, February 14, the National Assembly made a decision not to change the composition of its House Business Committee (HBC). This decision granted Kenya Kwanza majority control of the committee, with four opposition members committing to work with the government. The HBC is one of the most powerful committees, as it schedules bills tabled in Parliament. With this decision, President William Ruto continued to pile more woes on Azimio La Umoja co-principals, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and President (Rtd) Uhuru Kenyatta after he took control of the powerful House Business Committee.
The team that shifted their alliance was led by Jubilee parliamentarians Adan Keynan (Eldas) and Sarah Korere (Laikipia North). Other members of the committee who shifted their allegiance include Mandera Woman Representative Umul Ker Kassim Sheikh of the United Democratic Movement and Masinga MP Joshua Mbithi, elected as an independent member. Political analysts argued that with Ruto’s side controlling the committee, he may easily table any legislative agenda to aid the delivery of his manifesto, whereas Raila’s Azimio side may have little influence.
The House Business Committee prepares and adjusts the Parliamentary Calendar as they see fit. HBC also monitors and oversees the implementation of the house business and programs and implements the Standing Orders. It further determines the order in which the reports of committees shall be debated in the House. Lastly, it takes decisions and issues directives and guidelines to prioritize or postpone any business of the House.
The House Business Committee is chaired by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula and deputized by Kimani Ichung’wa (the leader of the majority) and Opiyo Wandayi (the leader of the minority). Other members of the committee include Robert Mbui (Wiper), Silvanus Osoro (United Democratic Alliance – UDA), Junet Mohammed (Orange Democratic Movement – ODM), Adan Keynan (Jubilee), Chepkonga Kiprono (UDA), Milemba Omboko (Amani National Congress – ANC), Tom Kajwang (ODM), Wairimu Gitau (UDA), Sarah Korere (Jubilee), Joshua Mbithi (Independent), and Umul Ker Kassim (UDM).
With Ruto’s side controlling the House Business Committee, the move may have a significant impact on the operations of Parliament. This development follows the recent push and pull in Parliament, with Ruto’s allies calling for dialogue to address the divisive issues between the government and the opposition. At the same time, Raila’s allies accuse Ruto of attempting to hijack the government’s agenda and imposing his views on the rest of the members.