Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter
Issue No 67 : 25th - 31 January, 2016

  • Legislators are yet to debate the report on the crisis in the sugar industry, one year after it was completed. It seems there is a conspiracy by MPs from both Jubilee and CORD to ensure the report by the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture, which was written in 2014, does not see the light of day. Despite being put in the order paper at the National Assembly two times, the controversial committee report titled 'The Crisis Facing the Sugar Industry in Kenya' was not debated after it was withdrawn under unclear circumstances. Amani National Congress (ANC) Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi is the latest politician to raise concern over the report. He accused MPs of conspiring to keep quiet over the matter. Kareke Mbiuki, the vice chair of the committee, said he is aware that 'some forces' have been preventing the debate of the report, but vowed that the committee will do everything possible to ensure that they defeat these forces, Over six million Kenyans are dependent on the sugar-cane industry, majority of them being from Western Kenya. Apart from recommending harsh punishment for individuals responsible for the woes facing the sugar industry, the report also names sugar barons. It also names major companies dealing in illegal importation and exportation of the commodity, who should take blame for bankrupting Mumias Sugar Company and running down other milling firms. More importantly, the report also lists key radical measures the Government should take to turn around the industry.
  • Senators want a change to the Constitution to extend the term of the Transition Authority (TA) by three years against the wishes of the government, which wants only one more year for the body. Through the 2016 Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill that was published this week, the senators say the authority has not been able to complete its work over the last three years and requires another 36 months to do so. The Bill is sponsored by the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee, chaired by Busia Senator Amos Wako, and is set for tabling when the House resumes sitting in two weeks. The TA’s term ends in March, as indicated in the Constitution, but will get more time if the proposed law is passed. The Constitution mandated the authority to oversee the full transition to the devolved system of governance for three years beginning after the last general election. 
  • It has been revealed that Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita son has been drawing a salary from public coffers irregularly. The MP’ is the highest paid at the Baringo Constituency office based at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi, yet he is not an employee. According to the revelations Mr Kenneth Komen is listed as communication manager for the constituency office in Nairobi and earning a net salary of Sh98,004 every quarter wired to his account number 1450261606146 at Equity Bank. Constituency Development Fund (CDF) manager Michael Kones who is based in Kabarnet could not confirm the list of employees in the Nairobi office saying the MP was in charge.Meanwhile, the constituency’s chief internal auditor Alice Wachira has raised the red flag over the expenditure funds. Ms Wachira in an audit management letter dated June 19, last year and which covered 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 financial years for projects and 2014/2015 financial year for recurrent and other operating expenditure items reveals discrepancy on funds used and the projects on the ground. 

         Vacancy! Vacancy! 
  • Resident Blogger Advert: Mzalendo Trust, Kenya’s premier Parliamentary Monitoring Organisation (PMO) is seeking a Resident blogger to join its dynamic team. In this role, you will publish stories on various matters before Parliament to make them understandable to the general public. You will also play an integral role in the editorial direction of the organization, and possess solid news judgment and be able to quickly adjust priorities. Application deadline is on Friday, 5th February 2016. Read more

Editorial: Parties: Broken Engine of Progressive Politics
The centrality of political parties in the growth of progressive politics cannot be gainsaid. In democracies political parties are expected to set the standards of good leadership and progressive politics. In a nutshell, they are the drivers of politics and the quality of political parties determines the overall politics in a state. Articles 91 and 92 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, set the threshold for political parties so high in order to prepare them for the respectable job of governing a country, in case they win a General election. Regrettably, the political class have defied the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, and their wish is to maintain political parties in a ramshackle state. Currently, political parties are not used as institutions of merchandizing sound and concrete ideologies. Instead, they have been hijacked by self-interested individuals to massage the differences of a people as the shortest route to gain popularity and eventually power. In the recent past, Kenya has witnessed political parties’ indiscipline at its peak.  Members of political parties have been forming political parties while still maintaining the membership of the party that sponsored them in various positions of leadership. This is unheard off and therefore a blatant violation of the law. The political parties’ honchos and the Registrar of Political Parties (RPP), who are supposed to be prefects of the parties may be accused of tolerating and brooding runaway indiscipline. Errant political party members are hardly disciplined.Read more
Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Francis Kigo Njenga on 8th July 2015 during the debate on Political Parties (amendment) Bill.  
I have not spoken on this Bill. Parliament is the custodian of democracy, fairness and equity. In our representative role, we are expected to advocate for transparency and accountability. When we talk of external funds being brought into a political party, it encourages a sort of monopoly where those who can manoeuvre political parties and the leadership get favours. In 2007, I was a victim of such manoeuvres. I won the PNU nomination and someone else was given the party flag in the elections. I felt very bad. In TNA things were better. Those who were in other parties may have suffered the way I did in 2007, especially in parties on the other side. This kind of external funding denies the youth, poor and those who have divergent views a chance to practise politics. They are discriminated against and this is unconstitutional, inhuman and illegal. So, the issue of external funding is one that this House should address. I believe that we should rely on internal funding.Read more

 Lest we Forget!

Sentiments by Wafula Wamunyinyi on 8th July 2015 during the debate on Political Parties (amendment) Bill.  

First, the intent and spirit of the Political Parties Act was to strengthen democracy, particularly multi-party democracy in our country. The reason why it was felt that this was necessary was that political parties were allied to individuals. When an individual bankrolled a political party, he or she owned the party, made decisions in the party and everything entirely depended on the person. Therefore, other members of the party had no freedom. They were not allowed to think. They could not do anything other than to remain loyal and beyond loyal, they must be followers of the owner of the party. So, that promoted democracy of dictatorship. That promoted democracy within the political parties. Therefore, when this Political Parties Act was initiated, it was intended to deal with those problems which were prevalent at the time. For us to ensure that we realise the objective of the Political Parties Act, we must make sure that there is a balance and that all political parties benefit from the money that comes from the taxpayer in Kenya to fund political parties. Read more
Newsmaker(s) this week:
The decision by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to alter the law to allow MPs to hop from one party to another has drawn mixed reactions from lawmakers. Suna East MP Junet Mohammed and Kibwezi East MP Jessica Mbalu said the move was retrogressive as it would be against party democracy and would breach the trust elected leaders enter with parties before election time. In addition, they said that Institutionalising party hopping is perpetuating political dishonesty. The committee was condemned for being myopic for not making laws for posterity. The Samuel Chepkonga  led team was challenged to come up with a mechanism that requires MPs to collect a certain number of signatures from their constituents before shifting allegiance so as not to betray their trust. Ms Mbalu said contestants should only be allowed to change parties six months before an election but not when in office. Mr Mohammed said MPs who feel they are popular should resign and seek re-election on their party of choice. However, Gichugu MP Njogu Barua said the party-hopping phenomenon was a manifestation of lack of objectivity and democracy in political parties, most of which operated on the whims of their party leaders.
Parliament started its long Christmas recess on Thursday 3rd Dec 2015 and resumes business on 9th February 2016.


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