Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue no. 39, June 29 - July 5, 2015

News of the Week:
  • The cost of keeping a Member of Parliament rose to an average of Sh2 million per month beginning Wednesday (July 1). Budget documents show that the 349 MPs (National Assembly) will, in the fiscal year starting July 1, get paid an average of Sh1.99 million per month in salaries and reimbursements for costs incurred up from an average of Sh1.5 million this year. Each of the 67 senators is expected to take home similar amounts. The 416 legislators will earn the money in basic pay and personal allowances paid as part of the salary that adds up to about Sh1.387 million (combined average for MPs and senators). Each MP then earns an average of Sh509,214 per month in domestic travel and other transportation costs, taking the total to nearly Sh2 million. Travel costs are paid to the legislators as mileage claims for trips made to their constituencies. Budget documents for the past two years show that the cost of maintaining legislators rose by nearly Sh400,000 per MP per month. In the fiscal year ended June 2014, each of the MPs earned an average Sh1.59 million per month compared to the Sh1.98 million they will be paid in the next financial year — a Sh390,000 or a 24.5 per cent rise.

  • The offices of the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ekwee Ethuro have been awarded Sh137 million for their travel budget, reflecting the burden of keeping MPs and top parliamentary staff comfortable. Budget documents show that Mr. Muturi’s office has been given Sh67.5 million for travel for the year that includes Sh32.2 million for foreign trips. Mr. Ethuro will have an annual travel budget of Sh71.8 million, which includes Sh35.5 million for travelling abroad. The Speakers have an office that is mainly staffed with aides like personal assistants, secretaries, security and a director. The travel budget for the Speakers has been expanding over the past two years, increasing from Sh71 million in the year to June 2014 amid calls for austerity measures.

  • Senators have demanded a special audit on the billions of shillings given to elderly persons, orphans and severely disabled people in the last financial year. The lawmakers said the funds were being misused by those who are in charge of disbursing it. They asked acting Cabinet Secretary for Labour, Social Security and Services Raychelle Omamo to initiate a special audit to ascertain whether the money reached the more than 150,000 people targeted. The CS appeared before the Senate Committee on Labour and Social Welfare on Wednesday to respond to concerns raised by the lawmakers. In the last financial year, the government gave Sh2.8 billion to poor elderly persons who are above 65 years. A total of Sh770 million was given to people with severe disabilities and Sh825 million to orphans and vulnerable children. The money is meant to support their welfare and beneficiaries normally get Sh2,000 every month.
  • The Council of Governors is withdrawing its support for the Senate after it went against the wish of governors in raising the budget ceilings for county assemblies. The governors will also move to court to oppose the new budget ceilings that they say will affect development in the counties. The new budget ceilings allocated an extra Sh2.5 billion to county assemblies. Although in their 10-point referendum push governors have been calling for the empowerment of the Senate, Peter Munya the chair of the Council of Governors said that the latest action by the Senate was an act by a House that does not want their support.

  • A court has stopped Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale from making statements linking Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero to the financial woes of Mumias Sugar Company. This comes after Dr. Kidero made good his threat to sue Dr. Khalwale for refusing to apologize over his allegations that Dr. Kidero presided over the looting of the sugar miller during his tenure as managing director. Justice Joseph Sergon ruled in Nairobi that pending the hearing and determination of the suit, Dr. Khalwale or anyone associated with him, should not link Dr. Kidero to the scandal. The Nairobi governor, through senior counsel Tom Ojienda, argued that the statement made by Dr. Khalwale at a function last week in Mumias was defamatory and meant to portray Dr. Kidero as a thief.
  • A move by Kiambu Governor William Kabogo to bar the senate from discharging its oversight role has now landed him in trouble. The Senate Finance Committee ordered that he be surcharged for "jumping the gun" by moving to court before exhausting intergovernmental dispute resolution mechanisms. The committee decided it will proceed with the determination of the petition. It argued that such litigations are unwarranted. Committee chair senator Billow Kerrow said the lawsuit is a waste of public resources and time. He demanded that the individual plaintiff be surcharged stating that people cannot continue to ignore the available dispute resolution mechanisms and continue rushing to court at the slightest provocation. The senate is currently probing alleged abuse of office by Kabogo, breach of the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act and the Public Procurement and Disposal Act in the purchase of 42 vehicles at a cost of Sh221million by the county government of Kiambu. In a bid to block the senate from hearing the petition, Kabogo through the Council of Governor (CoG) moved to court few days ago, to obtain orders barring it from investigating the claims. Kabogo has also individually sued Speaker Ekwe Ethuro and members of the Finance committee. However, the court failed to grant the interim orders sought by the Governor and has instead scheduled the hearing of the case for September 14th after the Senate opposed the case. Senator Billow said the committee will engage the Auditor General Edward Ouko to factor the legal costs in the audit reports.
  • The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) plans to register more than 25 million Kenyans by 2017. The commission says there are 11.4 million unregistered voters, nearly the same number as those who voted in the 2013 General Election The commission is also required to facilitate progressive realization of the right to vote for Kenyans living out of the country. The commission will this week launch its strategic plan for 2015-2020 which it also hopes to lay grounds to enhance participation of special groups in the electoral process. This includes ensuring that women, youth and other marginalized groups who require special attention during registration and voting are registered as voters. 
  • Women MPs have promised illiterate young raiders “young beautiful wives” in exchange for them to stop the age-old practice. It was one of the solutions the MPs threw at the warriors, raiders and elders of the communities in the cattle-rustling belt of northern Kenya, if only to save lives and lure investors to help lift the struggling communities out of poverty. From Turkwel Gorge in West Pokot, Nginyang’ and Loruk in Baringo to Turkana, the politicians looked at inter-marriage as one of the ways to have the warriors drop their guns and embrace peace. Senators Agnes Zani and Zipporah Kering revealed to the young men in West Pokot and Baringo that they might just get their daughters if they stop the cattle raids that have crippled the economy of the area. The meeting was mainly attended by the people from the Pokot community, their main complaint was that the government had ignored their plight.
  • Senators have said it is wrong to makes public names of people who are under investigation for various crimes before establishing their culpability. The senators said it was also against the rules of natural justice for accused persons to be asked to step aside even when investigations were still at the initial stages. They argued that the process is also embarrassing, it may ruin their lives and that the officers have a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • Ainamoi MP Hon. Benjamin Lang'at has said he will draft a bill to prescribe longer prison sentences and eliminate the option of fines for brewers and distributors of killer alcoholic drinks. Mr. Langat said the thirst for huge profits by unscrupulous traders had led them to add harmful chemicals to alcoholic drinks, in the process destroying the lives of many Kenyans. The MP said he will also seek that security officers, chiefs and other agents be sentenced to long prison jail terms without an option of fine for aiding the trade. 

Editorial:  Political Parties must invest in internal strengthening

Political parties are foundational to politics and democracy. Under constitutionalism, political parties are the essential vehicle for establishing governments as without them hardly any meaningful public participation can take place. At a recent launch on political parties’ adherence to the law in line with the Constitution in Article 91 and 92 and the Political Parties Act (2011), it was evident that they are not adhering to the law. The gaps identified are not solely about political parties but also the broader electoral system. Parties birth representatives to Parliament who then determine the bread and butter issues for every Kenyan. Disorder in political parties is inversely connected to poor representation be it in Parliament or County Assemblies. For our democracy, to grow Kenyans need to take power back and push for strong parties. Read more

Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Hon. Raila Odinga serving as Prime Minister in which he addressed Parliament On The New Constitution of Kenya: The Way Forward on 29th September, 2010

“Over the past three decades, the long journey towards the establishment of a new democratic constitutional order never seemed to end. Despite the commitment and determination of the Kenyan people to bring about political change and reform for many years, the insurgence of the old order and the absence of political will frustrated all efforts by Kenyans to create a democratic society based on human rights, equality, freedom, social justice and the rule of law. Then, the historic and constitutional moment came on 4th August, 2010 when the Kenyan people voted to adopt and enact a Constitution having fully participated in the making of the Constitution…. Constitutions are never mere parchment of words with ringing lamentations of our fears and reproclamation with the promises of our hopes. A Constitution is a living document which is often achieved through the blood and sweat of the broader masses of the people. A constitution is a living document that must be read to give values and aspirations of the people. Through the sweat and blood of our great Kenyan people, our Constitution was born on 27th of last month, the date of the promulgation. The task ahead is to implement the new Constitution of Kenya by making it a living document and not a hollow script.” Read Hansard

Lest we Forget!

Sentiments by Hon. George Saitoti when giving a ministerial statement on measures to address resurgence of Mungiki menace on 16th April, 2008

“Mungiki is a criminal gang, which was proscribed by the Government because of its involvement in criminal activities. The gang has been involved in serious crimes, including indiscriminate beheading of innocent people. The Government's core mandate is to ensure that the lives and properties of Kenyan citizens are safeguarded. For this reason, the Government is determined to use all legal means at its disposal to stamp out Mungiki and all other organized criminal gangs, which have been terrorizing innocent people with impunity. The Government shall not negotiate with organized criminals or any other similar groups whatsoever. The Government has put in place the following short and long-term measures to address the Mungiki menace and other forms of insecurity. It has banned and outlawed Mungiki and other illegal societies posing threat to national security. This was done on 15th March, 2002. The Government has intensified crackdown on members of illegal gangs and, so far, several suspects are facing the law. We have deployed security personnel in all matatu terminuses to stop the collection of illegal levies from the matatu owners. We have also conducted raids and patrols to flush out the illegal gangs from their hideouts. The Government has enforced traffic rules to ensure that the matatu operators are not exploited by the members of the Mungiki sect in the matatu industry. The Government has taken legal action against the leaders who have been suspected of using criminal gangs for political purposes. It has provided anonymous facilities like "Toa habari kwa Serikali" boxes in Provincial Administration offices and mobile phone facilities to enhance speedy security information alerts. The Government has introduced the Community Policing Programme to ensure that the police partners with communities in preventing crimes. It has also formed special police squads in the affected areas to address the criminal menace. The Government has recruited additional security personnel, both regular and Administration Police, to improve the police population ratio. It has offered cash rewards to information leading to the recovery of firearms. I wish to point out that the work to combat crime is, indeed, a collective responsibility of all Kenyans. Indeed, the police, churches, community leaders and civil societies and all organizations in general, have a responsibility to the youth to create a crime-free Kenya…”
 Read Hansard

Newsmaker this week:

Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi faces impeachment after an MP gave notice of a Motion to have President Uhuru Kenyatta dismiss him from office. The Speaker approved the the motion and is set to be debated this week. Matayos MP Geoffrey Odanga collected signatures from 96 MPs to oust Prof Kaimenyi for alleged gross misconduct and violation of the Constitution. He said he had surpassed the threshold of 88 MPs who are required to sign such a petition. He claimed that more MPs were in support of his move, including members of the ruling Jubilee coalition. He said that the education sector needed a Cabinet secretary, who would be ready to work with all the stakeholders and not one who looks down upon some of them. The House requires at least 88 out of the 349 MPs to proceed with debate of the Motion. However, Prof Kaimenyi has in the past repeatedly denied allegations of high-handedness in managing the ministry’s affairs. Profile

Bills before The National Assembly
Bills in the Third Reading

THE WATER BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO.8 OF 2014) is sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party 
Hon. Aden Duale

THE SECURITIES AND INVESTMENT ANALYSTS BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 21 OF 2014) is sponsored by the Chairperson, Departmental Committee on Finance, Planning and Trade Hon. Benjamin Lang'at

Bills in the Second Reading

THE SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 6 OF 2015) is sponsored by Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE ETHICS AND ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION (AMENDMENT) BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 33 OF 2015) is sponsored by the Chairperson, Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs Hon. Samuel Chepkonga





Bills before The Senate

Bills in the Second Reading

THE COUNTY ASSEMBLY SERVICES BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 27 OF 2014) is sponsored by the Chairperson, Standing Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights Sen. Amos Wako

THE UNIVERSITIES (AMENDMENT) BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 31 OF 2014) is sponsored by Sen. Halima Abdille

THE COUNTY HALL OF FAME BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 33 OF 2014) is sponsored by the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights Sen. Amos Wako

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 COUNTY RETIREMENT SCHEME BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 25 OF 2014) is sponsored by Sen. Dr. Kithure Kindiki

Public Participation

The Federation of Women Lawyers FIDA will have a National conference on Gender Equality tomorrow, 8th July, 2015. It will be held at Laico Regency from 8.00 to 1.00pm.

Senate wants to overturn President’s proposals on Public Audit Bill

Intense lobbying is under way to overturn President Uhuru Kenyatta’s changes to a Bill about to be tabled in the Senate that seeks to limit the powers of the Auditor-General. Whereas the National Assembly lacked the numbers to overturn the President’s proposals in the Public Audit Bill, the Senate might look at the adjustments without necessarily being swayed by party interests. The Senate Finance Committee said they are waiting for the President’s memorandum to be sent to the Senate, given that the Constitution provides that both Houses must review it. The lawmakers criticized President Kenyatta for taking advantage of majority support in the National Assembly to act illegally, by introducing new provisions in the Bill. The committee chairman, Billow Kerrow said that was improper for the President to return the Bill to Parliament with a fresh set of rules that were not part of the original Bill presented to him for assent. In a memorandum to Parliament explaining reasons for his rejection to give assent to the Bill, Mr Kenyatta recommended the insertion of a new clause that states that the Auditor-General shall not question the merits of government policy objectives. The Auditor-General has also lost the power to negotiate budget for his office directly with Parliament without a review by the National Treasury, a move that was seen as a breakthrough in promoting the independence of the Kenya National Audit Office. But, President Kenyatta said all government estimates of revenue and expenditure should be reviewed by the Cabinet secretary responsible for Finance to ensure that national government budget submitted to Parliament is balanced in line with provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012. He also rejected additional powers Parliament offered to the Auditor-General, including the right to hire and file an independent budget and the power to question the merits of government policy. The President differed with a clause that gave the Auditor-General the power to hire, promote and fire staff without consulting the Public Service Commission (PSC). The Bill, which had to be subjected to a mediation committee after both Houses failed to agree on its contents, is one of the constitutional Bills that had a May 27 deadline and the legislators had to fast-track its passage. Senators said the President’s proposal to make the Auditor-General’s office to recruit through the PSC, would weaken the office that is critical in the war against corruption. They said that the Auditor-General must be given a free hand to choose qualified staff who can enhance service delivery, and have his budget approved by Parliament without interference from the Cabinet secretary. The Senators also agreed that the budget estimates for the office of the Auditor-General shall be submitted to Treasury and the Cabinet secretary can only make comments that are not binding before he forwards the estimates to Parliament.

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