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Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue No 48: 31 August - 6 September, 2015


News of the Week:
  • There is a danger that the 28 Bills that have not been passed will not get careful scrutiny because the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution’s (CIC), which is mandated by law to vet such laws will not be in office. The CIC’s term ends in December and a section of MPs have vowed not to extend their mandate. The Charles Nyachae-led team has also said it would not seek an extension of its stay. CIC’s term has been characterized with differences with the National Assembly after some MPs claimed the transitional body had failed to execute its mandate on time.

     
  • The National Assembly last week handed manufacturers facing cancellation of their licences for failure to meet excise duty requirements, a lifeline by introducing rules that prolong the decision period. The MPs amended the Excise Duty Act to require the Kenya Revenue Authority to give affected firms a 21-day notice to comply. It must also set clearly what the manufacturer or importer needs to do. Companies will then be able to dispute the tax commissioner’s actions at the Appeals Tribunal within 14 days and notify KRA of the move within a week. They will also have the option of carrying the dispute forward to the High Court if they feel aggrieved by the tribunal. Initially, KRA would fail to renew licences upon a certain date and decide the time within which firms must comply.
 
  • Senators have agreed to adopt a bipartisan approach to change the Constitution to enhance the powers of the Senate. They want a strong House. The current is widely viewed by Kenyans as a waste of taxpayers’ money. The senators also agreed during the Thursday meeting to refrain from politicizing the matter during party rallies. This would guard against dividing them on party lines and watering down the idea. The chairman of the Senate select committee to look into amending the Constitution, Sen. Kipchumba Murkomen, said a report would be tabled in the Senate. But some senators, particularly those affiliated to the ruling coalition, called for caution, lest their intentions be viewed as support for the opposition’s Okoa Kenya referendum calls. The meeting followed a spate of complaints from senators that the law does not safeguard the Senate as custodian of county interests.
 
  • Police are yet to record statements from Juja MP Hon. Francis Waititu, weeks after a 25-year-old M-Pesa attendant lodged a complaint that the politician wanted to force her to terminate a four-month pregnancy. Kasarani CID chief Valery Obore said they have not summoned the MP because he cannot be reached on the phone. Kasarani police have asked their Ruiru counterparts to help pass the information to Waititu that he is required at the station for interrogation. On August 17, Martha Wanjiru reported to Kasarani police station that she received death threats on July 29 after she declined a suggestion by the MP, popularly known as Wakapee, that she procures an abortion. Wanjiru has told the police the married father of three impregnated her during a 13-month secret relationship then abandoned her. Police took her mobile phone for forensic investigations because she deleted the threat messages said to have been sent by a Mungiki leader. In her statement, Wanjiru said she received SMS and a call from a hidden number warning her of dire consequences if she did not “do as directed by the mheshimiwa”.
 
  • Six residents of Wajir County have accused Governor Ahmed Abdullahi's government of embezzling Sh1 billion. However, the governor, who appeared before the Senate Finance committee, dismissed the claim, and said the allegations were the work of his political opponents out to spoil his name. The residents, in their petition to the committee, had accused the governor of misappropriating funds, breaching procurement laws and abuse of office. The petitioners purported that the county government under the governor's watch had rented office space for Sh600,000 monthly, hired 200 vehicles for county operations at exorbitant prices and "drilled 60 non-existent boreholes". They also censured the governor over alleged skewed employment, awarding salaries in total disregard of the specified guidelines by the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC) and failure to initiate projects in line with the county integrated development plan. Senators Anyang' Nyong'o, John Lonyangapuo, Moses Wetangula and Peter Mositet took the governor to task over his administration's expenditure and claims that companies associated with the members of the county assembly (MCAs) were being awarded tenders. Mr Abdullahi assured the committee that no money has been misappropriated, saying Auditor General Edward Ouko's reports had confirmed the same.
 
Editorial:  National Assembly has powers to end the Teachers Strike


Kenyan teachers have been agitating for their pay increase for close to 18 years and Parliament has been right at the centre. Hansard records show the last teachers’ salary review was done 1997 following a strike that led to adopting a phased salary structure that ended in 2007. In January 2009, the Ministry of Education (MOE) formed the Teachers Service Remuneration Committee to discuss how they would pay the teachers’ pay rise amounting to sh17 billion. Teachers striked again in September 2011. The matter was debated again in 2012 as Parliamentarians evaluated allowances given to teachers among other officials. During the budget making process in 2013, MPs again raised the issue of disparities in allowances that teachers get in comparison to other civil servants and urged that this be rectified. It is clear that MPs have elaborated on this issue for a long time. In fact, any discussion captured in the Hansard about teachers also includes comments on their need to be better remunerated. Under the Constitution, Parliament controls the purse strings and allocates and locates budgets.  Read more



Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Hon. Wavinya Ndeti during a parliamentary debate on August 5th 2009.


“I stand here to support the Vote of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. I would really like to urge the Ministry to concentrate on conservation of rain water or rain harvesting. As you know, the sea level has been rising because of waste going into sea. We need to find out the best ways to conserve water in our country using dams and also creating gabions on our rivers. We should also look into the issue of harvesting water by giving water tanks to all schools and also provide affordable water tanks for women. I wonder how the Ministry is prepared to tackle El nino rains. As we have been told by the weather people, El nino rain is on its way. We should try ways of conserving rain water.” Read Hansard


 
Lest we Forget!

 

Sentiments by Hon. Ramadhan Kajembe as the Assistant Minister for Environment and Mineral Resources responding to a question on the de-commissioning of Dandora dumpsite on June 3rd 2009


“My Ministry has already started the process of decommissioning Dandora Dumpsite which has created an environmental hazard that the residents are exposed to. Relocation is one of the major objectives of the ongoing Nairobi River Basin Rehabilitation Programme which aims to address the entire problem of waste management in the City of Nairobi. My Ministry has already initiated an Environmental Impact Assessment for both decommissioning Dandora Dumpsite and our proposed disposal site in Ruai. In additional, contracts have already been awarded to technical experts whose technical report will be to review dimensional environment management authority and give technical conditions to be adhered to when actual decommissioning starts.” Read Hansard



Newsmaker this week:


Deputy Speaker Sen. Kembi Gitura said that a Senate committee will investigate how the Murang’a government incurred a Sh2.5 billion debt in two years. He said the debt was not factored into the 2015-16 financial year by the county assembly. The Murang’a Senator added that the Senate will investigate if the contracts were awarded competitively or single-sourced. Gitura, said standard government practice is to award contracts only when their budgets have been approved. Some of the contentious contracts show some companies have been awarded more than 20 jobs each in the Transport and Infrastructure department. Profile


Senate on recess

The Senate adjourned on Thursday last week until Tuesday, 15th September, 2015


National Assembly on recess

The National Assembly adjourned on Thursday last week and will resume on 29th September 2015



Kenya Defence Forces Bill 2015

There is a draft Kenya Defence Forces Bill 2015 which proposes to amend the current Act and has a raft of far reaching amendments. You can download and read it here



Access to information Bill

There is a draft Access to Information Bill 2015 which intends to give effect to Article 35 of the Constitution; to confer on the Commission on Administrative Justice the oversight and enforcement functions and powers and for connected purposes. You can download and read it here



Public Participation


The National Assembly is seeking contributions on the Land Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015, Community Land Bill 2015, Physical Planning Bill 2015. The Bills has undergone first reading and has been committed to the Departmental Committee on Lands for consideration and thereafter report to the House. Written memoranda can be sent to the Clerk of the National Assembly P.O. Box 41842 – 00100 or hand delivered to the office of the Clerk, Main Parliament Buildings or emailed to clerk@parliament.go.ke on or before Wednesday 9th September 2015 at 5.00pm


The National Assembly is seeking contributions on the Seed and Plant Varieties (Amendment) Bill 2015. The Bill has undergone first reading and has been committed to the Departmental Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives for consideration and thereafter report to the House. Written memoranda can be sent to the Clerk of the National Assembly P.O. Box 41842 – 00100 or hand delivered to the office of the Clerk, Main Parliament Buildings or emailed to clerk@parliament.go.ke on or before Wednesday 9th September 2015 at 5.00pm
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