National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale is known for his spirited defence of Jubilee government within and without Parliament.
For years, the Garissa Township MP has remained loyal to his bosses— President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto— and has not shied from defending them since 2013 when they captured power.
To an extent of even courting controversy, Mr Duale has painted the image of a vocal and fearless politician enjoying the backing of the presidency.
In 2015, he surprised the country when he pledged to release a list of Al-Shabaab financiers within 30 days following the Garissa University terrorist attack that left 148 people dead.
That never happened, depicting his raucous personality.
Curiously, despite making the grave claim, nobody dared to touch him despite numerous calls by opposition for his arrest.
Prior to the Al-Shabaab financiers claim, Mr Duale on September 15, 2014 during the third Mara Day celebrations in Narok town, which was presided over by Dr Ruto, publicly attacked the then Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto.
All was well during the event attended by other dignitaries from East African Community (EAC) until when he rose to speak and faulted Governor Ruto over his advocacy for the pesa mashinani (money to grassroots) referendum calls.
“Hii pesa sio ya mama yako (This money does not belong to your mother), Mr Duale said, a statement that nearly resulted to a fist fight between him and Mr Ruto.
Mr Duale’s political posturing has also painted him as a sycophant always boiling with controversies to please his bosses.
The vocal legislator, who first entered Parliament on an ODM ticket in 2007 before joining DP Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP), has characteristically transformed.
URP dissolved and merged with Mr Kenyatta’s The National Alliance and other parties in 2013 to form Jubilee, marking Mr Duale’s support for the president.
After the March 9, 2018 peace pact between his boss – President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, Mr Duale went mute on national issues.
First forward in 2019, the majority leader seems to have transformed and now bites the bullet and dares to speak his mind regardless of rubbing either President Kenyatta or DP Ruto the wrong way.
On August 2, during a requiem mass for the former Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso at the Bomet Green stadium, Mr Duale fearlessly told off the formations coalescing behind the two Jubilee leaders.
The formations are Embrace Women and Kieleweke faction of the Jubilee Party, which support the President and the ‘handshake’ and Inua Mama and Tangatanga Jubilee faction which back Dr Ruto.
When he rose to speak, Mr Duale played down claims of differences between his two party bosses.
“The president and his deputy are together. Those causing havoc are we politicians. It is unfortunate that even right here at the funeral, women are dressed in different uniforms depicting their differences,” said Mr Duale.
He went on: “The problems we are facing in Jubilee and country are as a result of politics and politicians. Such groupings should not arise.”
But of Mr Duale’s political manoeuvres and public statements, his backing of a parliamentary system of government and telling off Mount Kenya leaders critical of the system has come as a surprise.
His open support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) contrary to many DP Ruto supporters has also rubbed the Jubilee deputy leader the wrong way.
Mr Duale backs referendum calls but wants it conducted together with the 2022 general election to cut costs.
“Nobody knows the contents of the BBI report so far. We will know it once presented to the President later this week,” he said.
“But as a national figure who has been consistent on the mode of government that Kenya should take in the future, my position since 2005 referendum was that we adopt parliamentary system as was envisaged in the Bomas draft that was rejected in Naivasha.”
He says Kenyans have tested the presidential system since independence, and “we have reached a stage where things that the system has produced is personality cult in the political system and ethnic politics.”
“So for us to have peace and unity, let us go a pure parliamentary west model where the contest will be at the constituency level because Kenyans don’t fight for other elective positions like MP, governor, senator, woman rep or MCAs,” he said.
“The ethnic war in our country that brought post-election violence and winner-takes-it-all (outcome) is because our politics is ethnic and President Kenyatta wants to end this.”
He revealed that as a senior leader he is entitled to his opinion.
“Those saying one man one vote should know that the map of Kenya as it is today is defined by land size. Kenya is composed of land and people. If you have people and another group has land, it must be considered – land and people. Leadership is about how you reach your voters.”
He told leaders from Mount Kenya region that should they continue with their calls for “one man, one vote”, he would also push for the “one kilometre, one vote” owing to the size of northern Kenya’s electoral units.
Political analyst Javas Bigambo believes Mr Duale’s latest statements are aimed at positioning himself as “a northern Kenya political supremo.”
“So it could be strategic for him to court controversy to test the winds, create an own path and not to be seen merely as DP Ruto’s protégé,” Mr Bigambo said adding that at the moment, the north has no absolute leader.
He pointed out that Mr Duale cannot afford to break ranks with DP Ruto… “but there could be a silent covert strategy within Ruto camp to create teams so as to create political apparitions for opponents, so as to gauge the real opponents and how to craft a strategy.”
“There will be confluence at the close of the year ahead, when battle formations will be fully established and battle grounds drawn,” he said.
Mr Duale’s transformation, the analyst says, could as well be a reaction to strange and uncertain winds in Northern Kenya.
“He is also facing some winds of rebellion on the ground from younger politicians. This could be making him to question his grassroots strength.”
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