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Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue no. 24, 16 - 22 March 2015


News of the Week:
  • An attempt to censure National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi flopped but offered MPs three hours of self-examination and reflection on their performance over the past two years. As the debate on the highly anticipated motion by Kibwezi West MP Patrick Musimba progressed and it became evident there wasn’t much support for it, most of the MPs who had almost filled the chambers at 2.30pm had left. Mr. Muturi became the second Speaker since 2005 to face a censure motion and the first since 1996 to have it discussed to conclusion, albeit unsuccessfully. Only five MPs supported it. The rest of the MPs either opposed it — with some singing the Speaker’s praises — or used the opportunity to ask for a turnaround in the way MPs behave and a departure from the scandalous behavior the legislators have become infamous for.


     
  • MPs and governors’ quest to control the multi- billion shilling Equalization Fund has suffered a major setback after the Treasury created a board that will manage and administer the fund. Treasury secretary Henry Rotich has gazetted guidelines on the administration of the Equalization Fund, establishing a board largely dominated by principal secretaries to administer the fund on behalf of the national government. Both MPs and governors have been seeking control of the fund—which is targeted at 14 underdeveloped counties and meant to fund short-term projects that address food insecurity, health, water and sanitation, education as well as electricity and energy needs. The Equalization Fund, which aims to uplift the living standards of people in poor areas, is supposed to be equivalent to 0.5 per cent of latest audited annual government revenue. But the billions have never been disbursed since 2012 due to failure by the Treasury and MPs to agree on the model for the fund in line with the Public Finance management Act.


     
  • Police are investigating Imenti Central MP Gideon Mwiti over claims that he brutally assaulted and raped a woman who visited him in his private office in Westlands on Saturday night. Parklands police have received a complaint from a 29-year-old woman, who was admitted to Nairobi Women’s Hospital. The MP admitted meeting the woman on Saturday afternoon, the day she claims to have been attacked, but vehemently denied raping or beating her up.
     
 
  • Members of the House Committee on Delegated Legislation are proposing the creation of a law to regulate lobbying of MPs. Speaker Justin Muturi is also of the idea that a code of conduct would be useful because lobbying could take the form of corruption. The suggestion has been prompted by the manner in which tobacco companies and anti-tobacco campaigners have been attempting to influence the Health and Delegated Legislation committees over new tobacco regulations.
 
  • The National Assembly has received a petition seeking to remove Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Mumo Matemu and member Irene Keino. The petition will now be the subject of investigations by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee. Signed by one Oriaro Geoffrey, the petition seeks to remove Mr. Matemu and Ms Keino for alleged incompetence and violation of the Constitution. Mr. Oriaro claims that the chairman and the commissioner are in "serious violation of the Constitution, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act, the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act as well as the Penal Code".
 
  • The National Assembly voted to reintroduce the ranking of schools. Members of Parliament said the competition enhances the quality of education. Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa introduced the motion in February, saying the Education ministry banned ranking without due consultation. He noted that the system creates positive competition, motivation and rewards, and guides resource allocation.
 
  • MPs in the National Assembly told their Speaker Justin Muturi that they were tired of the territorial squabbling between their House and the Senate. They asked Muturi to talk to his colleague in the Senate, Ekwee Ethuro, to rein in the senators who have made disparaging remarks against the MPs in the National Assembly. The MPs said the back and forth between Speakers was denigrating the two Houses in the eyes of the public. The two Houses are in a push and pull with regard to the status of four Bills with a constitutional deadline – the Public Audit Bill, the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Bill, the Public Service (Values and Principles) Bill, and the Environment Management and Coordination (amendment) Bill. Muturi agreed with his charges in the House and promised to talk to Ethuro on how to avoid public spats.
 
  • Four Members of Parliament recorded statements with the police over allegations of a plot to kill their Dagoretti North colleague Simba Arati. The leaders are Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung'wa and Nominated Senator Beth Mugo. Arati alleged that on February 15 2015, the four had a meeting at Sakaja's KICC office, where they allegedly discussed to eliminate him. He cited his sources, who he claimed were aware of the meeting. He has since recorded a statement with the police over the same. They have all denied the allegations and termed them wild. Police say they are still investigating the allegations.
     
    
EditorialKenya Needs a ‘Deliberate and Focused’ approach on Unemployment, says Hon. Sakaja
 

Hon. Johnson Sakaja is sponsoring the National Youth Employment Authority (NYEA) Bill (2015) which is meant to be a one-stop-shop for anyone looking for employment. The Bill is premised on the lack of accurate data on unemployment in Kenya and knowledge among youth, especially graduates on how to go about seeking for a job. It is an added effort by Government to help people find jobs, both locally and internationally. In doing this, the Bill proposes to provide incentives to both public and private institutions who use the Authority’s database to recruit staff. In this first part of a two part series interview, Hon. Sakaja shares his thoughts that informed the Bill.
 
Find it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmgrwUUpS2s
 
You can also find the Bill here




Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Sen. Moses Wetangula during debate on determination of whether the division of revenue bill is properly before the Senate on May 22nd 2013

“I wish to be enjoined in the outrage that should be visited from what I heard going on in the Lower House last evening. In law, we always say you are better off focusing on substance rather than form. The Lower House is engaged in focusing on form and avoidance of substance. Any attempt to belittle the status, legitimacy and existence of the Upper House, also known as the Senate, is an affront to the very fundamental principle of devolution. The remarks and debate that went on in the Lower House can at the very best be described as totally unhelpful… The diversionary engagement that we see going on in the Lower House is, indeed, unfortunate. I want to urge my colleagues that we remain seized with the focus we have established, the dignity and respect we have earned and the admiration we are commanding from the people of this country.” Read Hansard




Lest we Forget!

Sentiments by Hon. Rachel Shebesh during debate on barring of Hon. Waititu/Hon. Mbuvi from contesting for elective positions
 
 “Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to seek a Ministerial Statement from the Minister for Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs on the recommendation by the Chairman of the Commission on Administrative Justice that the Members of Parliament for Embakasi and Makadara constituencies should not contest for any post in the next general election. Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the Statement the Minister should:- (a) indicate the mandate of the Commission and clarify whether or not the Commission is the right organ to determine the integrity question of the two Members; (b) clarify whether the declaration by the Chairman does not infringe on the constitutional rights of the two Members to contest for public office; (c) clarify whether barring the two Members from contesting the next general election does not violate the constitutional rights of the voters in Nairobi from electing their leaders..” Read Hansard



Bills before the National Assembly

Second Reading

THE DIVISION OF REVENUE BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 11 OF 2015) is sponsored by the Chairperson, Budget and Appropriations Committee Hon. Mutava Musyimi



 COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE

The Division of Revenue Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 11 of 2015) is sponsored by the Chairperson, Budget and Appropriations Committee Hon. Mutava Musyimi



The Public Audit Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 38 of 2014)  is sponsored by the Chairperson, Departmental Committee on Finance, Planning and Trade Hon. Benjamin Lang'at


Newsmaker this week:

Kibwezi West Patrick Musimba’s censure motion against Speaker Justin Muturi though it failed, provided an opportunity for MPs to debate their conduct and that of the Speaker. Musimba set the ball rolling when he reminded MPs that he did not take it kindly whenever the Speaker reminded some MPs that the debating chamber was not ‘a fish market’. Other speakers agreed that the manner in which the Speaker chose words when addressing them may not have been appropriate but which do not warrant a censure motion. They also challenged colleagues to interrogate their conduct in the floor of the House as their behavior contributes to how the Speaker addresses them. Profile



Is Kenyan Parliament a House of shame?

Never before in the history of the National Assembly has the House found itself entangled in such an unmitigated crisis of integrity. What started as investigations into graft within the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has slowly taken on a life of its own, with the trail of unsavory bribery claims catching up with other committees, the latest being the Agriculture committee whose members nearly came to blows over who pocketed fat bribes from sugar barons to sugar-coat a probe report.

The record of bad manners in the current Parliament continues to pile up as MPs continue to break the provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution that demands integrity and dignity of all State officials and those in leadership. To date, at least 20 MPs in the Senate and in the National Assembly have been accused of being involved in scandalous issues ranging from corruption, bribery, brawls and alleged rape incidents. Some MPs have been caught hurling insults and even assaulting police officers while others have been implicated in sexual harassment of colleagues and parliamentary staff. It is an old story that the sewers at Continental House, which houses the offices of MPs, have previously been blocked by used condoms. What is new is that this time round, it is female MPs who are accusing their male colleagues of soliciting for sex, within and outside the precincts of the House.



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Blog Awards 2015

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Presidential Address to Parliament

On Thursday, there shall be a Special joint sitting of Parliament. This is because the President is expected to address the House. As per the Constitution in Art 132 (1)(b), the President is expected to make a State of the Nation address to Parliament once every year.
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