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In delivering the pastoralists' agenda in Kenya, good leadership is key

Pastoralists in Turkana. Photo: Turkana Guardian

Leadership matters. Good and right leadership creates engagement with passion. It leads to higher levels of discretionary effort and performance of the team, loyalty, service, and innovation, and ultimately provides results. Leaders determine values, create and entrench culture and character, and above all change agent that generates new motivation for action.

The mandate of parliamentarians is to make laws, represent the people and oversee the executive. The Pastoralist Parliamentary Group (PPG) was formed in 1998 and recognized as the largest parliamentarian caucus in the parliament in 2019. Its purpose is to mainstream the pastoralists’ agenda within the national political and policy processes. The membership of PPG is open to all members elected or nominated from the pastoralist counties to the National Assembly (MPs/County Woman Representatives) and the Senate (Senators) regardless of their ethnicity or political party affiliation.

The PPG members represent 15 Counties and 66 single parliamentary constituencies with a total of registered voters of 2,593,165 in 2017. The total number of people recorded during the national census in the PPG counties stood at 9,787,730 people. These counties are Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu, West Pokot, Turkana, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Lamu, Mandera, Kajiado, Narok, Laikipia, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.

In the 12th Parliament, the membership of the PPG was 108 members from 11 political parties. The leadership included: Hon Aden Duale, then Garissa Township MP as the patron, Hon Alois Lentoimanga, MP Samburu North, as the Chairman, Hon Major (Rtd) Abdullahi, MP and Hon Rehema Dida, Isiolo Woman MP, as the Secretary-General and Hon Prof. Mohamud Sheikh Mohamed, MP as the treasurer. There was a total of 27 women parliamentarians including the first pastoralist woman elected to the Senate from Isiolo County. None of the PPG officials was re-elected back except the patron and the vice chair.

The overall strategic objectives for the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group since the 11th parliament remained the same; eliminating inter-communal conflict in the pastoralist areas, realizing constitutional, statutory, institutional and policy gains for pastoralists, advancing the interests of pastoralist women through the policy & legislative process, contributing towards a more positive recognition of pastoralism in Kenya and beyond and to build a unified and sustainable PPG with the capacity to deliver on its mandate.

PPG members sponsored 30 important bills focused on improving the lives of pastoralists. These included The Equalization Fund Appropriation Bill (2018) sponsored by Hon Kassait Kamket-MP Tiaty, The Livestock and Livestock Products Marketing Board Bill (2019) sponsored by the vice chair, Hon Major (Rtd) Bashir Abdullahi-MP Mandera North, The Public Service Internship Bill (2021) sponsored by Hon Naisula Lesuuda-Samburu West, The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (Amendment) Bill (2019) sponsored by Hon Joyce Emanikor-Turkana County, The Higher Education Loans Board (Amendment) Bill (2019) sponsored by Hon Ruweida Mohamed Obo-Lamu County, The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes (Amendment) Bill (2021) sponsored by Hon Aden Duale-then MP Garissa Township.

At the Senate, The County Hall of Fame Bill (2021) was sponsored by Kipchumba Murkomen, The Prompt Payment Bill (2021) was sponsored by Farhiya Haji-Nominated Wajir and Johnson Sakaja-then Nairobi Senator, Judith Pareno-EALA sponsored The National Cohesion and Peace Building Bill (2018) and The petition to County Assemblies (Procedure Bill 2018), Ledama Ole Kina-Narok sponsored The County Oversight and Accountability Bill (2018) and The County (Roads, Walkways, pavements and parking bays) Bill (2018), Gideon Moi-Baringo sponsored The Local Content Bill (2018) while Fatuma Dullo -Isiolo sponsored The Treaty Making and Ratification (Amendment Bill 2018).

The bills seek to improve the institutional framework, policy and legislation on peacebuilding, conflict management and cohesion, livestock, and affirmative actions. Out of 3,893 papers laid in the house, 761 motions were sponsored by members of the PPG.

The 13th Parliament is made up of 82 MPs, and 19 Senators. In the 13th Parliament, the focus of the PPG members will be on climate change resilience; human security; peacebuilding; and promoting community land rights. All the dryland counties have been ravaged by the continued drought and affected by insecurity and the people need to have their lands registered.

On 28th and 29th November 2022 The PPG members had an induction meeting whose opening ceremony was officiated by HE the President, Hon Dr William Ruto CGH. In his speech, the President acknowledged the importance of PPG saying that “he considers it ‘an illustrious organization, dedicated to the noble task of achieving critical constitutional values and principles of governance by mainstreaming the agenda of constituencies, communities and sectors that were previously marginalized.”

He added that “through formulating policies and strategies to redress the inequality and suffering resulting from this neglect, the PPG ensures that Kenya lives up to its promise to become an inclusive society. It, therefore, exists to hold Kenya to its word; that it would be guided by the principle of devolution and sharing of power and resources.”

President Ruto encouraged the honourable members to play their role effectively, including through vigorous oversight, peacebuilding, sensitization, and public awareness campaigns, as well as initiatives to demonstrate the advantages of inter-ethnic harmony and collaboration.

During the most successful recently concluded orientation workshop for the 13th Parliament, new PPG members held at KICC, the members agreed to change the procedures of how to elect the PPG leadership learning from the 2017 experience that created an internal rift among members. This new procedure proposed and adopted by the 13th Parliament is meant to reduce election tension and avoid conflict and build harmonious working relations and strengthen internal cohesion among the PPG members so that the membership and leadership both focus on the delivery of the PPG mission, to be a critical parliamentary force that ensures security, unity and prosperity for the pastoralists communities in Kenya.

The new procedure requires that each county elect one member of the executive committee, a supervisory executive panel that meets every quarter and provides direction for the caucus programming and implementation. The executive committee ensures the institutional growth and accountability of PPG. It schedules various PPG meetings (every thirty days for the thematic committee that champions the PPG priority agenda, It organizes regional consultative meetings every six months and an annual general assembly meeting for all members. In collaboration with the county leadership, mainly FCDC governors it convenes the Pastoralist Leadership Summit (PLS) conference at least once every two years.

Overall the executive committee of the PPG supervises the realization of the PPG program. It receives county applications and recommends its admission to the PPG annual meeting. it approves individual membership admission to the PPG caucus. The executive committee is comprised of 15 members. This executive committee was given fresh vitality, enthusiasm, impetus and delegated powers to elect the PPG leadership preferably on consensus, from the Patron, chair, Secretary General, treasurer and deputies and negotiate chairs of all thematic committees.

Ideally, this new PPG leadership assumes office and takes the mantle at the national level directly over the affair of the 10 million pastoralist people living in the dryland areas of Kenya. Hopefully, PPG in the 13th parliament will initiate new legislative appropriate bills that will protect the pastoralists against the ravaging drought, and end insecurity and that they will freely register their lands and access title deeds.

As the sun rises and the bicameral parliament sits, Naserian from Narok, Abdiaziz from Isiolo, Akai from Turkana, Zawadi from Lamu will hope that this new PPG leadership will be more committed to the welfare of the people they represent, they will pass more bills that will protect the people and not harm them. They hope that the leaders elected by PPG will be different in the house (s) businesses and will take on their work with the zeal with which the people voted them into power. The first point of testing the truism of their enthusiasm in pursuit of pastoralist agenda is for the MPs and the executive arm of Government to establish an amicable new working relationship to find a lasting solution to the cattle rustling menace and overcome the persistent drought that has claimed over 60 per cent of their source of livelihood; pastoralism.

The PPG Secretariat is Drylands Learning and Capacity Building Initiative (DLCI).

Jarso Mokku is the CEO of Drylands Learning and Capacity Building Initiative DLCI and Secretary to the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group (PPG) Secretariat based in Nairobi, Kenya.


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