Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue no. 34, May 25 - 31, 2015

News of the Week:
  • The Senate has proposed a 10-member committee to investigate the reasons behind Kenya Airways poor show and recommend action. Kenya Airways is facing serious cash flow challenges that must be urgently tackled to save it from collapse. The call comes as National Treasury allocated Sh4.2 billion to help revive the airline. The senators noted that the carrier is grappling with Sh18 billion debt, besides management woes that have adversely hit the business. They argued that the government, as the largest single shareholder at 29.8 per cent, should intervene.

  • The National Assembly's Education Committee has said TSC will need an additional Sh2.3 billion to boost the number of teachers in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. TSC had a target of 20,000 teachers, but MPs in the committee, told the Budget and Appropriations Committee that an extra 5,000 teachers were needed to bring the total to 25,000. TSC recruited 25,000 teachers in the last financial year. The Education Committee also asked the National Treasury to look for Sh2.2 billion more for the promotion of teachers. TSC, in its submission for the budget for the financial year 2015-16 wants to recruit 10,000 teachers for primary schools, 9,159 for secondary schools and 841 for the tertiary institutions in the next financial year. 

  • National Assembly's Transport committee has rejected President Uhuru Kenyatta's bid to allocate Sh4.2 billion from an airport project to the National Restorative Justice Fund. The President had sought to set up the fund to compensate victims of historical injustices, but he took the money from the Sh55 billion Greenfield terminal project. In his State of the Nation address, President Kenyatta directed Treasury to establish a Sh10 billion fund over the next three years to be used for restorative justice. The money was to be used to "provide a measure of relief" to victims of past injustices among them Wagalla massacre, the internally displaced people, the marginalized and at-risk regions and populations. But the departmental Committee on Transport, Housing and Public Works has recommended that the money be reallocated to the project, of which Sh3.5 billion be used as counterpart funding for the Greenfield terminal for the 2015-16 financial year to get the project off the ground. Greenfield is one of Kenya's Vision 2030 flagship projects and entails building of a new airport terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). The project is expected to increase the capacity of JKIA from the current 6 million passengers per year to about 18.5 million annually by the year 2030 with Phase 1 handling 12.7 million passenger capacity per annum.
  • MPs and senators agreed on a mediated version of the revenue Bill to save the counties from a financial crisis. MPs ceded ground in their hard-line position and allowed senators to add Sh3.3 billion from the Sh7 billion they had proposed to the initial Sh283.7 billion. County governments stand to share Sh287 billion if the National Assembly endorses the mediation committee’s report. Hon. Mutava Musyimi who chaired the mediation committee, tabled a mediated version of the Bill in the National Assembly before it adjourned until next Wednesday (today). The two Houses have to agree on the Bill before it is forwarded to the President for assent.

  • Three senators have called for an independent audit before recommendations can be made on whether to revert the health function to the national government. Bonny Khalwale, Kimani Wamatangi, and Hassan Omar said the proposal to return the docket to the national government is ill-advised. They said the matter should not be debated until a team is dispatched to physically assess the extent of the work done by governors on health. According to the Parliamentary Health Committee, the proposal to revert health to the national government was based on a resolution tabled in the House. 
  • Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro has directed the committee on National Security and Foreign Relations to probe in three weeks President Uhuru Kenyatta's aborted trip to Los Angeles, US, last month. He ordered the investigations after senators poked holes in a joint statement issued by the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence, which maintains that the trip was cancelled due to the insecurity in Yemen. The senators dismissed the Government's explanations and demanded more answers and action against the trip planners. 
  • The National Assembly Transport Committee summoned the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) management as it started investigating the controversial multi-million-shilling buses scam. They were expected to shed light on the leasing of the five-ramp passenger buses at Sh10 million per month. The five buses were leased by the authority to transport passengers from aircraft when planes are parked away from the arrival or departure terminals, in a deal that have elicited questions. The move by the committee comes days after KAA board interdicted six senior officials, including acting Managing Director Lucy Mbugua, to pave way for investigations into the matter.
  • The National Assembly has slowed down the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's (IEBC) ambition to register eight million new voters before the next elections. The only thing that appears to worry the MPs at the moment is the integrity of transmission of election results from the constituencies, for which they have allocated Sh30 million. In a report of the Budget and Appropriations Committee tabled in the House, IEBC has been given the money "to purchase the results transmission and logistics system". The money will help put all constituencies and polling stations in the Global Positioning System so that IEBC can lock down the number of polling stations early enough. The MPs' view is that there should be no hurry in giving IEBC the Sh925 million for voter registration in the next financial year because, in any case, Kenyans have a history of registering at the last minute. They want IEBC to allocated the money in the 2016-17 financial year, ahead of the August 14, 2017 elections.

Editorial:  A Bi-cameral Parliament should serve Kenyans as envisioned in the Constitution

Kenya’s constitutional movement from old to the current one has been eventful and inspiring. Even with the desired political will to implement the Constitution, the complexity involved in building institutions will pose a challenge. The required changes in institutions and in systems of governance introduced by the Constitution will take time to be fully effective. This realization informed the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee decision to form a working group to audit the Constitution. The root of the problem is an entrenched bad culture spanning years but which needs to be uprooted. For the aspirations of Kenyans presented to the Constitution to be realized, Parliamentarians in their functions need to abide by the law as presented in the Constitution. Read more

Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Sen. Kipchumba Murkomen during debate on a motion on the establishment of national youth service outlets in all counties on July 16, 2013

“We know that the current demographics of the country indicate that over 70 per cent of the population is less than 40 years of age. It is important to note that if we do not provide a lasting solution to the unemployment problem, we will be unable to solve issues of insecurity, drug and alcohol abuse. We need proper training and opportunities provided for the youth. In fact, I would like the Government to note that in the recent public appointments, few people represent the youth; few are under the age of 35. I expected that one Cabinet Secretary would have been less than 35 years. It is important that we have young people playing an integral role in Government. I would like to encourage the President, that in the remaining appointments, to consider the youth.” Read Hansard

Lest we Forget!

Sentiments by Hon. Mutula Kilonzo, The Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs, when introducing the Judicial Service Bill for the Second reading on 10th February, 2011

“Following the numerous amendments to the Independence Constitution the security on the independence of the various constitutional offices, including those in the Judiciary was irredeemably watered down. Holders of such offices were subordinated to the pleasure of the Executive. The constitutional safeguards necessary for maintaining fair administration, neutrality of public institutions, accountability of Government and the protection of rights in general, were systematically removed. The result of the said actions is that the Judicial Service Commission was no- longer regarded as fully independent. The net effect of which was that the Judiciary was now seen as vulnerable to Government pressures. The Judiciary was no-longer credible… The people of Kenya have expressed a desire to restructure the administration of the Judiciary. They have expressed a desire to entrench the independence of the Judiciary in the Constitution. I am talking about Article 160 of the Constitution. They have demanded to ensure that there is no interference in the Judiciary by the Executive and by the politicians and to ensure that cases are determined expeditiously… The people of Kenya have spoken and spoken loudly that all people be treated fairly and equally before the courts and access to court is improved by increasing the number of judges, magistrates and decentralizing the court system."  Read Hansard

Newsmaker this week:

Hon. Cecil Mbarire is proposing that Kenyans should elect an extra woman MP in each county bringing their total number to 94 from the current 47 women representatives. The proposal, if passed, would cure the gender rule puzzle in the upcoming general elections. The Constitution provides that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies should be of the same gender. National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi confirmed the House leadership had met the women leaders and agreed on Mbarire’s proposal. Muturi said the proposal is now before the Budget and Appropriations Committee. The budget committee is mandated by the Constitution to deal with any bill which is money-related and advise the House accordingly. Profile

Budget oversight

The national government should be barred from starting fresh projects until the ongoing ones have been completed, a parliamentary report has said. The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), which advices legislators on budget matters, says in a report that even with focus on the ongoing projects alone, the Government will still have a Sh1.9 trillion shortfall to complete them at the end of the year. The national government is currently undertaking about 1,109 capital projects whose total cost amounts to Sh4.2 trillion. The economic sector has the highest number of projects at 450 while the energy infrastructure and ICT has the projects with the highest cost totaling Sh2.1 trillion. Hired experts According to the Budget Office, most of these projects are to be completed between 2015/16 and 2017/18. The experts hired by Parliament estimate that the Government would have spent Sh1.6 trillion on these projects by June 2015 indicating only 38 per cent of these projects would be completed. This puts the balance required to complete all the on-going projects at Sh2.6 trillion. However, a review of the expenditure estimates for the 2015/16 budget indicate that the Government has only set aside Sh721 billion for capital expenditure. According to the 40-page report, Unpacking the Budget Estimates, 2015/16, if no new projects are introduced in 2015/16, the balance needed to complete ongoing project after 2015/16 is Sh1.9 trillion

Political Parties Registrar to be named soon

The Registrar of Political Parties will soon be appointed and the office separated from the electoral commission, the acting office holder, Ms Lucy Ndun’gu, has said. She said that she had asked the government and Parliament to start the process of delinking the office from the commission. Ms Ndung’u has been the acting registrar for the last four years, raising concern among political parties. Pressure has been mounting on President Uhuru Kenyatta to appoint a substantive registrar, with claims in some political circles that the incumbent has been deliberately retained for the benefit of some players. The office, which registers, regulates, and investigates political parties to ensure compliance with the Political Parties Act, has also been on the spot over political party funding and conduct, particularly on the activities of the Jubilee Alliance Party.

Public Participation

The Constituency Development Fund  (CDF) is inviting input from the public to inform amendments to the CDF Act 2013 that was declared unconstitutional by the High Court and given one year to conform with the Constitution, specifically devolved system of government. Written memoranda could be submitted to the CDF offices Nairobi Harambee Cooperative Plaza 10th floor, or sent by mail by 30th June 2015 to and addressed to the Chief Executive Officer. The mailing address is 46682 - 00100, Nairobi. 


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