Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue no. 20, 16 - 22 February 2015

News of the Week:
  • Eight offensive clauses in the controversial Security Laws Act were declared unconstitutional by the High Court. The Judges’ ruling signaled a victory for the Constitution especially the Bill of Rights in its provisions on freedoms and human rights. Sections ruled out are Sections 12, 34, 16, 20, 26, 48, and 95 of the Security Laws (Amendment) Act. Other laws declared unconstitutional were Section 66A of the Penal Code and Section 42A of Criminal Procedure Code. Even as the five High Court judges threw out the controversial sections passed amid acrimony in Parliament, they declared that they would not hinder the fight against terrorism and insecurity.

  • Justice David Majanja declared the CDF illegal and gave the national government 12 months to align it with the Constitution. The Institute of Social Accountability (TISA) moved to court in 2013 on grounds that the CDF was unconstitutional. The consolidated petition was filed by the TISA and the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance. The petitioners sought declarations that the CDF Act No. 30 of 2013 which replaced the CDF Act 2003 violates the Constitution. The fund, which constitutes 0.5 per cent of the national budget has been in operation for the last decade and is disbursed to the 290 constituencies to finance and implement development projects. MPs are considering amending this law as advised while also thinking of appealing the decision.

  • Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi has lashed out at the Supreme Court over its directive that MPs have until August this year to make a law that will implement the one-third gender rule. Muturi said the Supreme Court itself had failed to ensure that not more than two thirds of the judges were from the same gender, over a year after it issued the ruling. He said there was no way MPs can come up with such a mechanism without amending the Constitution fundamentally, to either do away with the gender provision altogether or make it open-ended so that after elections, women will be nominated just to meet that rule.
  • Infighting among members of a parliamentary watchdog may derail its inquiry into the bungled procurement of election materials by the electoral body. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is mired in leadership wrangles as a section of members seek to remove Budalang'i MP Ababu Namwamba as chairman over claims of bribery. PAC was scheduled to meet to agree on the order of appearance of all commissioners of IEBC and senior staff who played a key role in the procurement of electronic voting kits. The IEBC chiefs were meant to explain queries raised in a special audit report on procurement of electronic voting devices by the Auditor General dated June 6, 2014. The polls agency was to explain irregularities that marred the procurement exercises, and in some cases variations of contracts, that cost tax payers millions of shillings in losses. 
  • Members of Parliament are headed for a clash with governors over control of about Sh1 billion for village polytechnics previously administered by the Education ministry. The Budget and Appropriation Committee has notified Treasury secretary Henry Rotich of their intention to take control of Sh935 million earmarked for transfer to the counties in the next Budget. The polytechnics have been devolved to county governments, but committee chairman Rev. Mutava Musyimi said MPs may take part of the cash to build the institutions.
  • Parliament has ordered the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate how the Geothermal Development Corporation (GDC) inflated the transportation of power plant equipment in a deal worth to Sh1.7 billion.  The corporation offered Bonfide Clearing and Forwarding a contract in 2012 to move geothermal rigs and other equipment in 40 lots with each costing Sh42 million within a distance of 11 kilometres, bringing the worth of the entire deal to Sh1.7 billion. The same firm is said to have charged KenGen Sh20 million last year for a similar contract covering a longer distance of 15 kilometres. The National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee says the huge difference in the two similar contracts calls for investigations into the deal awarded by GDC. It wants the matter investigated and handed to the Director of Public Prosecutions by March 30.
  • The Auditor-General is on the spot for failing to present audit reports of all the 47 counties to the Senate as required by law by end of December. Senators say Mr. Edward Ouko breached the Constitution by failing to submit the reports for the 2013/14 financial year within the time established. The Constitution requires the auditor to table an audit report of each county government six months after the end of every financial year, but his office failed to do so before December 31. Senators are worried that the failure could easily be challenged in court and further delay scrutiny of the reports by the House. The Senate Committee on County Public Accounts and Investments raised the red flag, saying it had expected to review the reports when the House resumed this month but wasn’t able to because of the delay. 
  • National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has demanded that the Departmental Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Cooperatives handling investigations into the troubled Mumias Sugar Company tables its report without further delay. He asked the committee to take its findings to the House, whether they are “skeletons or flesh”. The Mumias inquiry is part of the committee’s investigations, after a petition by Western Development Initiative, asking for Parliament’s help to end the crisis in the sugar sector.
  • Three Opposition MPs have been suspended for four sitting days because of their participation in the chaos that disgraced the National Assembly on December 18 last year. But their six colleagues from the Jubilee Alliance escaped sanctions by six votes after Cord members retaliated by initiating a similar Motion seeking to suspend them. The MPs are John Mbadi (Suba), Silverse Anami (Shinyalu) and Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay County).
  • Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko wants the bail granted to Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria in a hate speech case cancelled and the matter heard to its conclusion. Mr. Tobiko made the request before a Nairobi court after the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) accused Mr. Kuria of breaching an agreement for an out-of-court settlement. Mr. Kuria was accused of writing fresh hate messages targeting the Luo community on his Facebook page, barely a week after committing not to do so. The MP is accused of linking the Gikomba terrorist attack, which claimed several lives, to members of the Luo community.

EditorialTime Ripe for Public Audit Law

Parliament is scheduled to debate the Public Audit Bill, 2014, setting stage for a new and critical framework to ensure accountability and transparency of public funds. A quick glance of media reports including social media indicates questionable financial malpractices covering the entire spectrum in the public sector. The Constitution, informed by past plunders including mega scandals like Anglo-Leasing and Goldenberg, enshrines various institutions to check the management of public funds. The Public Audit Law should strengthen the Auditor General’s office to ensure there is continuous auditing and not seasonal. Read more

Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Hon. Eugene Wamalwa during parliamentary debate on 26th August 2009.

“Rev. Niemoller, the holocaust survivor, once said that when they came for the communist, he did not speak because he was not a communist. When they came for the Jews, he did not speak because he was not a Jew. When they came for the Catholics, he did not speak because he was a protestant. By the time, they came for him, there was no one to speak for him. It is not easy to speak for peace and justice. At the funeral of J.M. Kariuki in 1975, Mr. Alfonce Okuku made a memorable eulogy when he said that in 1965 when they killed Pio Gama Pinto, they did not speak because he was just a Muhindi or an Asian. In 1969, when they killed Tom Mboya, they did not speak because he was another Mjaluo. When they killed Ronald Ngala, they did not speak because he was just another Mswahili. When they killed J.M. Kariuki he asked them, will you not speak because he is just another Kikuyu or will you say that Kikuyus are killing each other?  These are things that, through this forum, we must speak regardless of our tribes, parties and regions. Until that day when we shall look at each other as Kenyans and not as Luo, Kalenjin or Kikuyu we will not realize real peace. That would only come when we stop looking at the Mungiki problem as a kikuyu.” Read Hansard

Lest we Forget!

Sentiments by Hon. Nicholas Gumbo during debate on the Adoption of Report on Approval of Members of CDF Board on September 8, 2011.

“There is no gainsaying that the CDF today is the most visible public Fund ever in the history of Kenya in the nearly 50 years we have been independent. A survey has shown that over 95 per cent of Kenyans, both young and old, have at some point heard of or come into contact with the activities of the CDF, which is mostly the good work that the CDF is doing. In fact, I think that percentage is now higher. Virtually, everyone in this country knows about the CDF. I want to pay tribute to the engineers of this country, more particularly the person who brought the CDF idea to this House, my good friend and senior colleague, Eng. Muriuki Karue. This was truly a revolutionary idea that he came up with, and it has changed the face of our country.” Read Hansard

Newsmaker this week:

Parliament has passed a Bill that could compel the Central Bank of Kenya to lower the minimum investable amounts in government securities if President Uhuru Kenyatta signs it into law. The Central Bank of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2014 by MP Kabando wa Kabando seeks “lower minimum investment denominations” in T-bills and bonds. Failure to specify the minimum investment threshold means CBK will have discretion in setting the figures. The current minimum investment in T-bills, with maturities of less than one year, is Sh100, 000. An investor needs at least Sh50, 000 to buy a government bond whose maturity ranges between one and 30 years. Additional investments in both cases is in multiples of Sh50, 000. Mr. Kabando sponsored the Bill arguing that the current thresholds have made it hard for ordinary Kenyans to buy government paper which offer safe and regular income in the form of interest payments. Banks, insurers, and pension funds are major investors in government bonds, holding about 90 per cent of the Sh953 billion sovereign debt as of November 2014. Most retail investors have used money market funds run by insurers and other asset managers to gain exposure to the government debt market. The Bill also provides that the debt be sold through electronic means, potentially allowing retail investors to buy the securities through mobile phones. T-Bills and bonds are currently bought directly from CBK and through appointed agents including banks and stock brokers. Profile

Public Participation;

Access to Information Bill 2014

The Access to Information Bill 2014 will be presented to Parliament by Hon. Priscilla Nyokabi this year as a private members Bill. This bill affects public access to information held by government institutions and bodies. All Interested people should therefore raise their concerns and interests.

Find it here to read and learn more Access to Information Bill 2014

Over the next two weeks, feel free to comment on it on our blog or Facebook page.  We will share your comments and concerns with her.

The Senate is seeking your input on the Mining Bill 2014 and the Environment Management and Coordination (Amendment) Act (2014). Public hearings will be held on 26th February 2015 from 10.00am to 1.00pm at Shimba Hall, first floor KICC. You can submit written memoranda to the Clerk of the Senate, or mail to Clerk of the Senate P.O.Box 41842 - 00100, Nairobi or hand deliver to the Clerk at Main Parliament Building by 26th February 2015, 5pm. The Bills can be downloaded from the Parliament's website or at Kenya Law.

The Senate's Standing Committee on National Security and Foreign Relations is calling on the public to participate in three Bills. They are the Registration and Identification of Persons Bill 2014, County Governments Disaster Management Bill 2014 and Refugees Bill 2014.  Public hearings will be held on 5th March 2015 from 10.00am to 1.00pm at Shimba Hall, first floor KICC. You can submit written memoranda to the Clerk of the Senate, or mail to Clerk of the Senate P.O.Box 41842 - 00100, Nairobi or hand deliver to the Clerk at Main Parliament Building by 5th March 2015, 5pm. The Bills can be downloaded from the Parliament's website 
 The National Assembly is seeking your views on the nomination of Dr. Samuel Njuguna Kabue to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Written memoranda should be submitted to, sent to Clerk of the National Assembly P.O.Box 41842 - 00100, Nairobi or hand deliver to the Clerk at Main Parliament Building by 26th of March 2015 at 5pm

Events: Division of Revenue Discussions

The International Budget Partnership Kenya (IBPK), in collaboration with the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) will hold a Stakeholders Forum for purposes of discussing the Division of Revenue Bill (DORB) 2015/16 and matters arising thereon.

They expect to bring together representatives from the National Treasury, Parliament, Commission on Revenue Allocation, CIC and civic actors to discuss how best to share revenues. IBP believe that public debate and engagement on sharing revenues is a core element in budgeting and policymaking in Kenya and this forum will be beneficial to you and to the Country.

The forum takes place on today, 25th of February 2015 at Laico Regency Hotel from 9.00am to 2.00pm.

Parliamentary Monitoring Organizations (PMOs) 

For the first time ever African Parliamentary Monitoring Organisations (PMOs) held a two day meeting in Accra, Ghana this week. The conference was organised by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) in collaboration with the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA).

The two-day conference brought together representatives of civil society organizations across Africa (Anglophone and Francophone) that have been engaging with national and sub-national parliaments with the objective of enhancing their transparency and performance.

The meeting discussed a draft baseline study conducted by CDD-Ghana with affiliate researchers to map out the status of African PMOs, and sought to create a network of African PMOs, enabling them to exchange lessons and share best practices. The primary aim of this initiative is to strengthen parliamentary openness and accountability by enhancing the capacity of African PMOs to monitor the functioning and the effectiveness of African Parliaments, as well as to promote citizen-parliament engagement on the continent.

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