KENYA SUMAKU

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Marende: This man, Kenneth Marende

Posted by Popular Ombudsman on May 3, 2009

Marende has shown exceptional leadership

essage
Sunday Nation, Nairobi
By KWENDO OPANGA Posted Saturday, May 2 2009 at 19:05

Faced with a do-nothing Executive, an agonisingly slow Judiciary, good people here is leadership from the Legislature. It has been demonstrated and signed, sealed and delivered by House Speaker Kenneth Otiato Marende.

Yes, it is Parliament’s business to inquire, debate and legislate and/or express an opinion regarding an important matter.

Yes, it is the Speaker’s business to moderate debate, discipline MPs, announce vote results and make rulings. Marende does not ask us to respect him. He earns our respect. The Speaker of Kenya’s National Assembly does not say, “Try me, I can lead”.

He leads simply by doing his work. That is, he does his work and we in turn notice the spectacular ease with which he does it and the singular successes that he scores. And he leads by finding solutions to challenges and problems confronting him and by showing us the way forward.

This I have told you before: a leader is identified and or emerges at a time of crisis.

Rewind to January 15, 2008 and Marende has just been elected Speaker and he is to perform his first function, which is the swearing-in of MPs.

The background against which he is to do this is one of heightened anxiety and palpable tension in the wake of a bitterly disputed general election. Here, the Speaker’s word could be the sedative that saves the country or spark that ignites a conflagration to consume it.

Of course, at the time Marende was also under intense pressure from his party to decide in its favour and precipitate yet another crisis about the presidency.

Patriotically partisan

Deftly, scrupulously and confidently Marende remained party blind, interest neutral and patriotically partisan.

Against the wishes of his angry, bitter and revenge-seeking party and super hawks Aggrey Orengo and Anyang’ Nyong’o, the newly-installed Speaker ruled that there was a President in place and MPs would swear allegiance to him.

When an MP arrogantly swore allegiance to Raila Odinga and not to the President, Marende promptly ruled him out of order and ordered him to take the oath afresh. Kenyan people heaved a sigh of relief and satisfaction.

Marende had put Kenya first. He had demonstrated he could think on his feet under pressure, remain composed and make up his mind. He had shown he could discipline MPs and, most importantly, take decisive action.

Fast forward to last week and another crisis. This time, Kenyans are sick and tired of an Executive that is mired in a suffocating gridlock, whose principals, one the President, the other the Prime Minister, are completely unable to agree even on an agenda for a meeting.

This time round, the President and Prime Minister are locked in a sterile and puerile fight of supremacy over the leadership of the agenda-setting parliamentary House Business Committee.

The two snub the Speaker when he asks them to meet him to iron out the matter. When an MP asked for direction on who should be the Leader of Government Business, the ball was squarely in the Speaker’s lap.

If you have watched Marende from the day he was elected to preside over our Parliament, you will have noticed his modus operandi. It says: “Folks, is there a challenge, a problem, a dispute? Tell me I will fix it.”

Let me explain that further. What the Speaker does when an MP asks a question which he considers weighty, Marende will proceed to ask his colleagues to air their views on the matter as he listens keenly and regulates debate.

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