Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula will lose millions of shillings worth of perks after he was yesterday kicked out as Senate Minority leader.
They include a superior pay package, vehicles, enhanced security and at least nine employees paid for by the State.
Efforts to reinstate him hit a dead end, after NASA senators told the Ford Kenya leader to his face that they will not reverse their decision to replace him with Siaya Senator James Orengo.
“We met, we deliberated and agreed that the Senate is an independent institution and we made the decision of retaining Orengo as our elected leader,” Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina told the Star after the meeting.
The meeting, called by the NASA co-principals, was seen as a last ditch attempt to salvage Wetang’ula from the savage blow that has exacerbated the differences within the four-member coalition. Yesterday’s meeting was boycotted by ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi.
His aide Kibisu Kabatesi claimed bluntly that the meeting “would not add any value”.
“The senators who were meeting there are ODM, if Raila had failed to prevail on his own senators to rescind the decision they have taken, of what value was Musalia’s presence going to be?” asked Kabatesi.
“This is a game played by ODM and Raila is in it. Is Raila now telling us that he is no longer in charge in ODM? Is that the message he wants us to take home or we are being duped?”
Before his ouster, Wetang’ula enjoyed multiple perks and a budget for his office, all of which a parliamentary source put at over Sh1million monthly.
Besides that, he was entitled to Sh765,188 monthly salary — Sh143,938 above fellow senators, who earn a monthly salary of Sh621,250.
With the reduction of his pay, Wetang’ula’s group life insurance and personal group accident cover will also be slashed.
He will also have reduced gratuity and pension because these benefits are pegged on annual remunerative packages.
“For purposes of gratuity, pension and insurance, the annual basic remunerative package is computed on the basis of sixty percent of the monthly gross remuneration package,” a gazette notice on the remuneration of State officers states in part.
As Minority leader, Wetangula had at his disposal a government-provided Mercedes Benz car fueled by the taxpayer, six police officers — two guarding his rural home, two for his Nairobi home and two bodyguards who accompany him — besides the services of a driver.
His expansive office in Parliament directly opposite the Speaker of the Senate’s is staffed with two researchers, a legal officer, a secretary and a personal assistant.
While some of the staff is parliamentary employees seconded to his office, most of the staff was on the parliamentary payroll based on Wetang’ula’s tenure as Minority leader.
This means the staff will now lose their jobs as the next occupant of the position exercises his discretion and replaces them.
He also enjoyed unlimited local travel, and up to six international travels per year (other senators are allowed two) in Business Class; an air ticket for self and assistant every time he travels home.
He was also a member of the important Senate Business Committee, which sets the agenda of the House and allocates resources to the other committees of the Senate.
The principals had convened the Thursday meeting to prevail upon the senators to reconsider their position and have Wetang’ula reinstated as the Senate Minority leader.
One after another speaker during the meeting castigated Wetang’ula for his alleged arrogance and dictatorship during his tenure as the Minority leader.
“They told Wetang’ula maneno yake yote (castigated him),” a Senator who attended the meeting told the Star.
Raila and Kalonzo watched helplessly as the lawmakers hit at Wetang’ula, whom they insisted can not continue leading them in the Senate. Kalonzo’s appeal to reconsider fell on deaf ears and drew murmurs from some lawmakers, who accused him of only paying lip service to NASA unity.
“Kalonzo tried to defend him and the senators promptly reminded him how he wrote directly to the National Assembly Speaker over the nomination of Momanyi [Borabu MP Ben Momanyi] to the PSC without consulting his peers,” said a NASA MP who attended the meeting.
Raila sat pensively as his co-principals received a thrashing from senators drawn from ANC, Wiper and ODM.
“We told Raila to allow us to make the decision: We had agreed to have Orengo as our Minority leader and it is Orengo who will remain our leader,” said another senator who was present during the stormy meeting.
Senators Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Judy Pareno (nominated), Moses Kajwang’ (Homa Bay), Sam Ongeri (Kisii) and Fred Outa (Kisumu) are among those said to have pushed Wetang’ula to the edge during the meeting.
“Everybody spoke and everybody castigated him,” an ODM senator told the Star.
But emerging from the meeting held at the Panafric Hotel, Nairobi, the three principals put on a brave face and played down any cracks in the alliance.
Raila said the Summit had agreed that NASA’s 28 senators proceed for a retreat in the next 14 days to iron out ‘outstanding’ issues raised by the lawmakers and Wetang’ula.
He said after the retreat, NASA would make a formal communication to the Speaker of the Senate, Kenneth Lusaka, on the Minority leadership in the House.
“We have also discussed issues of leadership and senators have expressed themselves frankly and Wetang’ula had an opportunity to respond to issues raised by senators,” said Raila.
But a NASA senator who attended the meeting told the Star on the phone that they will not back down on Wetang’ula’s ouster.
“Nothing like a retreat, that was not in our deliberations. We told them [principals] that if it was about the issue of Minority leader we finished with it and there is no turning back,” said the senator in confidence.
Orengo is expected to be sworn-in next week when the Senate resumes sittings.
Wetang’ula did not speak during the press briefing but Kalonzo said NASA will not fall as it was strong and united, adding that those locking horns should stop.
“At the level of the principals we are all together and we have restated the unity of NASA. MPs and MCAs stand appropriately guided,” he said.
Wetang’ula’s removal has raised concerns about possible backlash for the ODM in Western Kenya.
Wetang’ula is the only NASA co-principal in Parliament and his position had initially been primed to offer leadership for Opposition troops in the bicameral House.
Wetang’ula, who has avoided commenting directly on his removal, is reported to have teamed up with a dejected Mudavadi to turn tables against Raila in Western Kenya.
The three —Wetang’ula, Musalia and Kalonzo— are set to attend a solidarity rally in Bungoma on Sunday.
The rally comes amid talk by some MPs allied to the three principals of a separate alliance to exclude ODM.
“We want to speak to our people about the emerging issues in NASA. We shall inform them about what is happening,” said Ford Kenya deputy party leader Boni Khalwale in an interview with the Star.