Jubilee MPs are meeting at State House this morning as the ruling party puts together its committee membership lists and decides on its candidates to the East African Legislative Assembly.
Majority Whip Benjamin Washiali said the meeting marks the start of a busy two days for the lawmakers as they have to agree on the membership to committees and then elect Kenya’s nine representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly by Thursday.
MPs will start their lengthy Christmas break after the adjournment of the sitting on Thursday evening.
“After we have finalised a report of the party, we’ll submit it to the Committee on Selection and hopefully that committee will approve it for presentation to the House,” said Mr Washiali.
The Committee on Selection has a meeting at 4pm today to consider the nominees to the committee ahead of the marathon sittings to approve them.
Mr Washiali, who is also the MP for Mumias East, said the House leadership could decide to ask MPs to approve a sitting on Thursday morning to make it easier for them to dispose of all the business before the break.
Both the majority and minority leadership have had to grapple with demands by MPs to be placed in committees considered lucrative or influential.
Minority Whip Junet Mohammed and Mr Washiali separately told the Nation that the popular committees are Transport, Energy and Budget, with many in the Opposition also asking to be put in the Public Investments and Public Accounts committees.
Mr Washiali said Jubilee did not have much of a problem setting up its membership to the teams.
“The beauty of our party is that it is one party with affiliates and strong leadership. With the affiliates, they also listen to our leaders. Our brothers in the Opposition have to share amongst different parties.”
Mr Mohammed said that with seven slots available in the 19-member departmental committee, the Opposition has had to carry out a tricky balancing act.
There were 45 MPs interested in joining the Transport Committee, 20 interested in the Energy Committee and 20 in the one that handles water issues.
For PIC, which has 23 members, there were 25 Opposition MPs in the queue and 35 seeking to join PAC.
MPs see membership in a committee as one avenue to getting goodies for their constituencies.
Membership in the watchdog committees gives one an opportunity to question ministries and parastatals over their expenditure and could also be deemed an opportunity to seek favours.
The first PAC of the 11th Parliament was disbanded after a fight broke out as MPs traded accusations of bribery.
“As an MP, you have to fight for something that will benefit your people and that if you are in the National Assembly would be roads. That’s why you see Transport committee is the most popular,” said Mr Washiali.
Mr Washiali said that Jubilee’s 12 slots in such a committee would be shared according to regions.
Other sources in the ruling party said the MPs were individually told where they had been placed, with the party’s leadership handling the strategic committees such as Transport and Energy.
MPs had been asked to state their preferred committees as they registered in Parliament after election.
In the Jubilee Party, cases where two MPs from one region had expressed an interest in the same committee resulted in one being asked to cede ground.