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Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue No 50: 14- 20 September, 2015


News of the Week:
  • Billions of taxpayers’ shillings are lost every year in white elephants and ghost projects funded through the Constituency Development Fund. A countrywide survey by the Saturday Nation returned a shocking picture of stalled projects (some as old as the CDF itself, started 12 years ago), hospitals that were built but not occupied and projects that exist only on paper. In the midst of all these, the Auditor-General’s office is too broke to track how the funds were spent. The situation, according to experts, is getting worse because since counties came into being, attention had shifted to the use of funds by the devolved units, leaving CDF projects unwatched.


     
  • Governors have lost their bid to stop the implementation of a law barring them from flying the national flag on their official cars. Justice Isaac Lenaola ruled there was no reason to annul the National Assembly’s decision to set limits on who could use the flags on their vehicles. The Council of Governors, which had filed the application on behalf of the 47 county bosses, claimed the National Flag, Emblems and Names (Amendment) Act 2014 was extremely unconstitutional and should be declared null and void. But the judge said he could not issue such orders. He said governors still had the option of flying their county flags if they wished to.
 
  • The Judiciary has defended itself against accusations of misappropriation of public funds. Chief Registrar Anne Amadi said a draft Public Accounts Committee report, which contains the allegations, was two years old, hence did not reflect the progress that the Judiciary had made over the period. The report that was tabled before the National Assembly accuses Chief Justice Willy Mutunga of failing to take control of the Judiciary, leading to financial and procurement malpractices. That, it says, promoted a culture of impunity among officials in the Judiciary. Reacting to the claims, Ms Amadi said a lot of effort had been made to streamline operations of their arm of government. She cited, for instance, the Judicial Service Commission’s initiating an investigation following claims of financial impropriety and incompetence in the administrative wing of the Judiciary. The investigation, she said, was undertaken by various government agencies. Based on its findings “the JSC moved boldly and quickly and sacked the former Chief Registrar, Gladys Shollei, her deputy and four directors”, Ms Amadi said in a statement. Most of these former officials, she noted, have been charged. She recalled that following Mrs. Shollei’s sacking, Parliament and the Executive protested and unsuccessfully attempted to hurriedly disband the JSC.
 
  • MPs want Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners to work as part-time employees. This is after the commissioners failed to account for their daily duties. The commissioners, who appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, were at pains to justify why their terms of engagement should not be changed to part-time. The committee, chaired by Hon. Nicholas Gumbo, was taken aback when commissioners Albert Bwire and Muthoni Wangai said they had a lot of work but could not specifically state their daily duties. The commissioners added that they deal with delimitation of boundaries, registration of voters, and voter education as they lay the ground for a credible general election. But the MPs called the duties seasonal functions that can be done by IEBC regional staff with close supervision from the secretariat, which is led by Mr. Ezra Chiloba. The lawmakers said the commissioners had proved that they were unfairly benefitting from public funds as full-time employees though what they do can be undertaken by part-time employees.
 
  • National Assembly committees rejected a proposal to establish an ombudsman office to receive complaints against MPs. The chairmen of the committees rejected the proposal by Leader of Majority Hon. Aden Duale, saying it was tantamount to “procuring a dictator for Parliament”. The MPs, however, agreed to allow the Powers and Privileges Committee to come up with a code of conduct and propose punitive measures. National Security Committee Chairman Hon. Asman Kamama said Parliament would be giving away its freedom to a “dictator” if such an office was created. Trouble started after the chairperson of the session, Hon. Jessica Mbalu, read out a resolution that the office of the ombudsman be set up. The MPs objected, saying the proposal should be struck off the list of resolutions.
 
  • Former councillors are on course to get a gratuity of Sh18 billion and a monthly stipend of Sh30,000 after senators yesterday approved their retirement package. The lawmakers supported a petition to give the 12,000 retirees the pay that would cost taxpayers a one-off payment of Sh18 billion and the monthly stipend. The senators said most of the former councillors were leading a miserable life despite their service to the people. They said what the former councillors were asking for was not much and they should be given the money to begin living respectable lives. The petition was taken to the House on Wednesday afternoon by Sen. John Lonyangapuo. Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro allowed members to make contributions on the petition. The lawmakers who spoke supported it, saying the former councillors should be granted their request.
 
  • National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said he would rally MPs to drop offensive clauses in a controversial Bill that seeks to restrict media coverage of Parliament. Mr. Muturi said he was worried about the impact the clauses in the Powers and Privileges (Amendment) Bill would have on the freedom of the media in covering Parliament. The Speaker's reservations came even as MPs expressed their support by passing the Bill during its second reading. The Bill is now headed for the committee stage, the second-last level, before the House adopts it. Mr. Muturi, who chairs the Powers and Privileges Committee, said House leaders were equally worried about the offensive sections of the proposed law saying they would ensure they are dropped when the Bill reaches the committee stage. He said the committee was meeting in Mombasa on Thursday afternoon to look at the controversial Bill.
 
  • Senators have demanded a statement from the handlers of protocol at a funeral attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, where they say Speaker Ekwee Ethuro was "humiliated and embarrassed”. The senators targeted Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua for attack after he allegedly declined to recognize and grant Ethuro a chance to offer a message of condolence, on behalf of the House, to the family of Sen. Mike Sonko during the burial of his father, Gideon Kioko. Angry senators said the move by Mr. Mutua not to grant the Senate Speaker a chance to address the mourners, despite being notified to do so, was meant to humiliate and embarrass Ethuro. President Kenyatta was among the mourners who attended the burial in Machakos County.
 
  • Parliamentary week. The legislature thought it wise to start this yearly endeavor as part of fulfilling the provisions of Article 118 on Public Access and Participation as stipulated in the Constitution of Kenya. The aim of this initiative by parliament is to improve public confidence in the entity, and encourage the members of public's involvement in the legislative process by looking at the places, events and people that shape the democratic process in Kenya. Read about the planned activities here.



     
 
Editorial:  Kenya needs to be vigilant in building her democracy

Every year on September 15th the world marks the International Day of Democracy as a special day to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy. This week, MPs rejected a proposal to establish an ombudsman office to receive complaints against them. The Constitution in Article 1 states that all sovereign power belongs to the people and shall be exercised in accordance with the Constitution. Often, Kenyans have witnessed bad behavior of various legislators. The Speaker of the National Assembly has also been called out by many Kenyans including MPs who felt that he failed to live up to expectations. Parliamentary committees have also been opaque in their deliberations and manner in which they sometimes conduct business, raising questions on their suitability and fidelity to Kenyans, transparency and accountability. Read more



Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Sen. James Orengo commenting on debate in the House on tribute to the late Prof. George Saitoti and Joshua Orwa Ojode on 12th June 2012

“I think this is a very important occasion to say this. In fact, for all Members of Parliament in this House, there is one characteristic that we need to learn from hon. Saitoti. I have never seen a politician in my life--- In the long time I have been in politics, I have never seen a single politician in his life who can go on a political platform and never mention anybody’s name at all adversely or otherwise. It is not an easy thing to do when you are in the business of politics, but for the number of days hon. Saitoti was in this House, I never saw an occasion in a public rally or here where he engaged in acrimony.” Read Hansard



 Lest we Forget!

 

Question by Hon. Harun Mwau on his designation as a drugs trafficker by United States President on 8TH June 2011
 
“I would like to request for a Ministerial Statement from the Minister for Foreign Affairs regarding the sanctions and actions of the President of the United States of America (USA) of designating me as a significant foreign narcotic drug trafficker under the USA Foreign Narcotic Drugs Kingpin Act. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in his Statement, the Minister should:- (a) clarify the reason and circumstances that led to the decision by the President of the USA to designate me as a significant drug trafficker; (b) clarify what due process was followed in regard of fairness, justice and respect to my fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law; (c) clarify exact information, report or credible evidence that was placed before the President of USA to justify his action to designate me as a significant foreign drug trafficker; …That is because for a person to be designated as a significant foreign drug trafficker, possibly somebody is alluding that there could be evidence. The Minister should inform the House and produce evidence of any place where I would have been involved in drug trafficking, whether in Kenya, America or any other part of the world.” Read Hansard



Newsmaker this week:


Parliament, the Judiciary and the Executive should have their budgets cut to pay for teachers’ salary raise, Hon. Aden Duale has recommended. Mr. Duale, the majority leader in the National Assembly, said his proposal to cut budgets across the three branches of government was informed by the government’s lack of the Sh17 billion required to effect the teachers’ pay increase. Mr. Duale dismissed suggestions that Parliament should be recalled to debate the teachers' strike, saying that the move would be pointless as it could not end the deadlock. Mr. Duale asked the Kenya National Union of Teachers and the Teachers Service Commission to meet and try to come up with an agreement that could see teachers return to class. He also asked teachers to seek the input of Salary and Remuneration Commission (SRC) as it is mandated by law to set salaries and allowances of all public officials. Profile


Bills before the Senate

 Bills in the Second Reading

THE PETITION TO COUNTY ASSEMBLIES (PROCEDURE) BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 35 OF 2014) is sponsored by the Chairperson, Standing Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights Sen. Amos Wako
 
THE OFFICE OF THE COUNTY PRINTER BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 42 OF
2014) is sponsored by Sen. Stephen Sang'
 
THE SENIOR CITIZENS CARE AND PROTECTION BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 43 OF 2014) is sponsored by Sen. Wilfred Lesan

 
 
Bills before Committee of the Whole

THE CLIMATE CHANGE BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 1 OF 2014) is sponsored by The Senate Majority Leader Sen. Kithure Kindiki
 
THE PUBLIC APPOINTMENTS (COUNTY ASSEMBLY APPROVAL) BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 20 OF 2014) is sponsored by the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Labour and Social Welfare Sen. Stewart Madzayo
 
THE COUNTY EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION BILL, (SENATE BILL NO. 32 OF 2014) is sponsored by the Chairperson, Standing Committee on Education Sen. Daniel Karaba



National Assembly on recess

The National Assembly adjourned on 27th of August and resumes 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



Revised petroleum Bill published

Cash generated from Kenya’s oil production will not be used for the sovereign wealth fund if a Bill on sharing crude oil money is adopted. The revised version of the Petroleum Bill, 2015 shows that the national government will be allocated 75 per cent oil royalties, with counties getting 20 per cent of the cash and local communities where crude production will be undertaken taking five per cent. This is a departure from the earlier version of the Bill that provided at least five per cent of oil royalties for the sovereign fund. Kenya estimates its crude oil reserves to be about one billion barrels – which experts say is enough to make the export business viable—and expects to start crude exports in 2022.



Health Bill allows for organ donation

Any person who wishes to donate his body or organs would be free to do so if a Bill before Parliament is passed and assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The Health Bill that is before the National Assembly allows a person, who is competent to make a will, to donate his or her body or any specified tissue to a person or institution of his choice after death. “Such a consent can also be given by a spouse, elder child, parent, guardian elder brother or sister in the event the person died without leaving a will,” the Bill states. In the event that the relatives of a deceased person cannot be traced and no will is left behind, the Health Cabinet secretary would have powers to donate the body or its parts. The donation may be made for training of students in medical learning institutions, for research or for advancement of health sciences or for healing purposes, including the use of tissue in any living person. The Bill further provides that any transplant of body tissues must be done in a duly authorized health facility and after written approval from a medical practitioner in charge of clinical services in that facility.


Land Laws (Amendment) Bill proposes to end wrangles in the land sector

A Bill that promises to end wrangles between the Lands Ministry and the National Land Commission has been published. The Land Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015 reduces the powers of the commission and redefines its role. The ministry and the commission have been fighting in and out of court over their roles and powers. Each claims legal mandate for approving land transactions, leases and issuing title deeds. The amendment, which has already gone through the first reading in the National Assembly, proposes that NLC’s current mandate over registration, establishment of a national land information and management system and management of settlement plans revert to the ministry. Under the proposed law, NLC will no longer manage the multi-billion shilling Land Settlement Fund, formerly known as Settlement Fund Trustee. The fund is charged with procurement and compensation for land acquired by the state for development. This, apparently, is aimed at setting clear boundaries in resolving conflicts between the commission and the ministry. The amendments also propose to disband county land management boards set up by NLC. The amendments propose that future recruitment of NLC commissioners shifts to the Public Service Commission and not a panel of stakeholders. The Bill also seeks to amend the law to provide for the principles of Evictions and Resettlement Bills, and the principles for Minimum and Maximum Land Holdings Acreage Bills, rather than have them as separate Bills. The proposals have, however, met resistance from several quarters, notably the NLC.



 
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