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Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue no. 41, 13 - 19, July, 2015


News of the Week:
 
  • Kenya trails its neighbors in the share of women in parliament despite the Constitution providing that no gender should occupy more than two-thirds of State. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) report says that Rwanda tops the East African region with 63.8 per cent of its MPs being women, followed by Tanzania (36 per cent), Uganda (35 per cent) and Burundi (30 per cent). Kenya ranked at position 70 of the 190 countries classified by IPU in what is set to further stoke debate on a Bill seeking to entrench the gender quota in Parliament. The Supreme Court set a timeline for Parliament to enact a legislative framework to enforce the two- thirds principle by August 27, 2015. In the 2013 election, fewer women were elected to Parliament and their number could not reach a third of the 349 MPs, even with nominations. Parliament has been under pressure from the National Gender and Equality Commission to fast-track realization of the two-thirds gender rule ahead of the set deadline.

     
  • Ganze MP Peter Shehe has been charged with misappropriating Sh40 million from the Constituency Development Fund. Mr Shehe, five CDF committee officials and contractors appeared before Malindi Chief Magistrate Charles Mbogo. The MP, together with Mr Daniel Chiwai Chiriba, Mr Emmanuel Mwagambo Sanga, Mr Daniel Karisa Karabu, Mr Kelly Panda Japhet, and Mr Musa Eyienda, faced a total of 30 counts in relation to the alleged misuse of the constituency funds. They denied the charges and were released on a Sh500,000 bond each with an alternative cash bail of a Sh100,000. The charges related to the supply of materials for the construction of various CDF projects.

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  • Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar has demanded investigations into audit findings which raise questions about the management of finances at the Mombasa county government. The Auditor-General’s report details incidents in which millions of shillings could not be accounted for in the financial year ended June 2014. Mr. Hassan said these findings call for urgent investigations to ascertain, among others, the loss of Sh496 million. He said those responsible should be prosecuted immediately. He accused the Mombasa County Assembly of failing in its responsibility of checking the county government. In his report, the Auditor-General, Mr. Edward Ouko, said that out of the total revenue of Sh1.715 billion collected by the county, only Sh1.219 billion had been deposited in its accounts by June 2014. 
 
  • Senators said the government had let a popular actor who promoted unity among Kenyans die a pauper. Contributing to debate on the County Hall of Fame Bill, the senators said it was wrong to let Mzee Ojwang’ (Benson Wanjau) die without official recognition or a commendation from the State. The Bill seeks to recognize individuals who have contributed to the development of counties. The senators criticized the government for waiting for national heroes to die before praising them. Moving the Bill’s second reading, Nandi Senator Stephen Sang' said the law would enable county governments to appreciate the work of people they feel have done good work.


     
  • Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo is fighting an arrest warrant over alleging that former Prime Minister’s life is in danger. He accused the public prosecutor of overstepping his mandate to charge him after he claimed that former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s life was in danger in 2012. Midiwo told a Kisumu court that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should have investigated the matter and questioned those he had mentioned instead of charging him. Trouble for Mr Midiwo started on April 7, 2012 at a funeral in Bondo, when he alleged that some officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by then minister Sam Ongeri, had plotted the kill Mr. Odinga, who was then the Prime Minister. Through his lawyer Tom Ojienda, Mr. Midiwo also asked High Court judge Hillary Chemitei time to file additional evidence to counter the DPP’s stand. Prof Ojienda argued that since 2012 when Mr. Midiwo was charged, a lot of other judgments have been made to the effect of whether the DPP has exclusive powers to press charges on individuals. The DPP on his part maintained that the said plot was a political gimmick and was meant to create unnecessary tension.
 
  • The National Assembly’s Committee on Health has asked the national health insurer to drop the Sh500 monthly fee for people in the informal sector. The MPs asked that the amount be reduced to Sh300, saying the Sh500 was expensive for workers without a steady income. The committee said it was illogical for the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to tell the ‘mama mboga’ (vegetable vendors) and boda boda operators to pay Sh500 every month to cater for their health needs at a time when people in formal employment who earn over Sh100,000 a month pay a maximum of Sh2,000. Kitui South MP Rachel Nyamai. Nyamai, along with other MPs say the highest amount that people should be charged if they don’t have a steady monthly income is Sh300. The legislators said they will review the regulations on NHIF operations to make sure the people in informal sector pay Sh300 a month. The committee sought an explanation from NHIF on why it settled on Sh500 for the workers, but they did not get an actuarial study to back up the figures.  
 
  • A Senate committee has summoned Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor Patrick Njoroge to shed light on the unrelenting depreciation of the shilling as well as the recent policy announcement requiring commercial banks to raise their minimum. Finance, Commerce and Budget Committee chairman  Billow Kerrow told the Senate that Dr. Njoroge had been invited to appear this Thursday. Senate Ekwee Ethuro has approved the committee’s inquiry into the two issues. The shilling has depreciated by about 13 per cent since January to the current exchange rate of about 102 units to the dollar, raising fears of a surge in the inflation rate. Treasury secretary Henry Rotich in his Budget speech proposed that banks should increase their minimum statutory capital from the current level of Sh1 billion to Sh5 billion within the next three years. Dr. Njoroge said during his vetting by the National Assembly that he would seeks answers from CBK and Treasury officials over the policy shift on minimum capital requirement.
 
  • Attorney General Githu Muigai has said devolved health functions cannot be returned to the national government without amendment of the Constitution. In a move that agitated members of the National Assembly's Health Committee, the AG said MPs must draft constitutional amendment to have the devolved functions taken back to the national government. The AG's brief was submitted to the MPs through James Mwenda, a senior officer in the State Law Office, who also told MPs that the establishment of the Health Services Commission would also require a plebiscite. His sentiments, however, attracted a barrage of condemnation from MPs, who said the suggestion of a referendum was a clear indication that the Government doesn't care about the woes of health workers. 


 

 




 
Editorial:  Rule of law must be upheld by all to fight corruption



Rule of law means that citizens and those who govern them should obey the law. On the 9th of July, the National Assembly proposed two controversial amendments to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) bill 2015. One proposal is to have the Public Service Commission (PSC) recruit EACC Commissioners where a vacancy arises. The second proposed change is to have the Offices of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary to the Commission become vacant upon the commencement of the Act which effectively and un-procedurally terminates the terms of service of the incumbent. The EACC (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was passed in the National Assembly with these provisions and now awaits presidential assent. The only positive proposal put forward was the need to increase the number of Commissioners from three to five as well as provide for the Chairperson and the, members of the Commission to serve on a part-time basis. In fighting corruption in Kenya, Parliamentarians must exercise sober judgement and demonstrate leadership. MPs need to recognize that the EACC is an independent commission and as such, proposing changes to it frequently will affects its service delivery and derail the war against corruption. Read more



Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Hon. Aden Sugow as the Assistant Minister, Ministry of State for Public Service, when responding to a question by Hon. Rachel Shebesh on mechanisms to comply with gender requirement in public service on 7th June, 2012.


“In order to ensure compliance with the two-thirds gender requirement in appointments in the Public Service, my Ministry, through the Public Service Commission:- Issues policy guidelines to be followed in recruitments and promotions in the Public Service; Carries out human resource audits every year to ascertain conformity with the laid down regulations and procedures in the management of human resource functions, including the recruitment of personnel and established a monitoring and reporting framework on all recruitments and promotions in the Public Service.” Read Hansard




Lest we Forget!
 

Question by Hon. John Mututho on the number of deaths caused by illicit alcoholic brews since 1999 on 5th October, 2010

 
"I beg to ask the Minister of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security the following Question by Private Notice. (a) Could he provide the number of deaths caused by illicit alcoholic brews from 1999 to date? (b) Could he provide the names of manufacturers and brand names of all alcoholic drinks and beverages sold in the country and details of chemical analysis of such drinks, indicating whether the respective drinks are acceptable (fit) for human consumption or not? (c) Could the Minister also indicate the number of those prosecuted for brewing and distributing such illicit drinks and when will the Government close down all the businesses manufacturing, distributing and selling alcoholic beverages that do not meet World Health Organization (WHO) standards?"  Read Hansard




Newsmaker this week:

Senator George Khaniri has urged Governor Moses Akaranga to consider signing for medical equipment provided for lease by the national government to allow residents access better medical care. Mr. Khaniri said much as the county did not require all the equipment provided by the Government, it would be prudent if the governor identified those he needed for the benefit of the people. The senator said the county's health sector was not satisfactory, and of great concern was that the major referral hospital in the region, Vihiga Hospital, has been receiving negative publicity. Governor Akaranga has maintained that he will not sign for the equipment because the Government's procurement procedures were questionable and that they had not provided technicians who will operate them in the counties. The senator spoke when he delivered his second annual address to the assembly. He said the equipment was meant to ensure quality healthcare is accessible to the entire population and that people will get value for their taxes. Profile


 
Bills before The Senate


Bills in the Committee of the Whole

THE COUNTY EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 32 OF 2014) is being sponsored by the Chairperson, Standing Committee on Education Sen. Daniel Karaba
 
THE PUBLIC APPOINTMENTS (COUNTY ASSEMBLY APPROVAL) BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 20 OF 2014) is sponsored by Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Labour and Social Welfare Sen. Stewart Madzayo
 
THE FOOD SECURITY BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 23 OF 2014) is sponsored by Sen. Beatrice Elachi   



 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 PARLIAMENTARY POWERS AND PRIVILEGES BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 15 OF 2014) is sponsored by Sen. Dr. Kithure Kindiki


THE COUNTY INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 7 OF 2014) is sponsored by Sen. Muriuki Karue
 
THE CLIMATE CHANGE BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 1 OF 2014) is sponsored by the Senate Majority Leader Sen. Kithure Kindiki
 
THE COUNTY INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 7 OF 2014) is sponsored by Sen. Muriuki Karue




Public Participation

The National Assembly is seeking views on the Health Records and Information Managers Bill, 2015. Written memoranda can be sent to  the Clerk of the National Assembly P.O. Box 41842 - 00100, or hand-delivered to the office of the Clerk, Main Parliament Buildings or emailed to the clerk@parliament.go.ke on or before Wednesday 31st July, 2015 at 5.00pm


Corruption allegation at the Devolution ministry


The Devolution and Planning ministry is in the eye of a new storm after the auditor-general submitted a report to Parliament showing it had acquired non-financial assets worth Sh8 billion without supporting documents indicating when payments were made, amounts involved and the purpose of the procurements. Edward Ouko, the auditor- general, has also unearthed a Sh3 billion variation between the value of pending bills the ministry declared and the actual register that the auditors reviewed, putting Cabinet minister Anne Waiguru under the spotlight. The ministry reported pending bills worth Sh1.1 billion but the list provided for audit totalled Sh4.2 billion, resulting in a difference of Sh3.2 billion. No explanation was given for the difference between the two figures. Mr. Ouko further says that the department failed to provide a register for pending bills, making it difficult to ascertain their accuracy. The ministry also failed to prepare a summary of fixed assets register, making doubtful the ownership, existence and location of its fixed assets. The audit report, which Leader of Majority Aden Duale tabled in Parliament last week, also shows that the ministry acquired non-financial assets worth Sh8,036,371,566 against a budgeted figure of Sh11,372,218,703, resulting to an under expenditure of Sh3,335,487,137.



2015 Internet Freedom Fellows

Mzalendo’s Executive Director Jessica Musila was among 2015 Internet Freedom Fellows. The 2015 Internet Freedom Fellows program focuses on the theme “Empowering women and girls: the power of IT“. It brings five bloggers, activists on human rights from Kenya, Brunei, Zambia, Palestine and Belarus to Geneva and to the United States to meet with fellow defenders, U.S. and international government leaders and members of civil society engaged in information technology, human rights and women’s empowerment through the internet. Read more



 
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