Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter
Issue No 64 : 4th - 10th January, 2016

  • A group of MPs drawn from the Luhya and Gusii communities are fighting allegations that they received bribes from Deputy President William Ruto to support the newly formed Jubilee Party. The bribery allegations emerged as Mr Ruto hosted a delegation from Kisii and Nyamira counties, comprising several Cord MPs, at his Sugoi home in Eldoret on Thursday 7th January 2016. The bribery allegations were first raised by Lugari MP Ayub Savula who accused his colleagues from Kakamega County of leading delegations to the DP’s home to receive cash handouts. His claims were supported by Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua and South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya who are both allied to Cord leader Raila Odinga. He claimed that Mr Ruto was giving the MPs “cheap money” to ferry delegations to his home to proclaim their loyalty to the new Jubilee Party. Separately, Ms Mutua accused Mr Ruto of seeking to divide Western by “buying” some of the elected leaders.
  • The Chair of the National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Samuel Chepkonga has defended the new law empowering the President to appoint top judges and police officers. He said the law that will give the President powers to hire and fire the officials, was properly arrived at. “All the 349 MPs were present that day and the amendments went through all the legal processes. The committee also considered views from the public,” said Mr Chepkonga. He said the law will also correct the “defective process” that resulted in the appointment of the Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal in 2013. The Act gives the President powers to hire and fire top police chiefs in a major move that appears to be a systematic attempt by the Executive to tighten its grip on independent institutions, a claim the MP denied. He downplayed claims the law will see powers of Parliament taken over by the Executive even as lawyers move to court to challenge the amendment. 
  • As the government drags its feet on what to do with dwindling coffee returns to farmers, Parliament has received a private member’s Bill that might set the minimum price guarantee for both tea and coffee — if passed into law. The Bill might also allow coffee farmers to sell their produce at the farm gate to societies — rather than wait for payments after milling and selling of the processed beans. The Bill, by Kiharu MP Irungu Kang'ata, comes in the wake of an expose' by the Nation Newspaper on the woes the coffee sector is facing and seeks to shield the farmers from unscrupulous brokers who have been rigging the market prices. “The intention is to have a price guarantee that will motivate farmers to continue tending the crops. This is the only way we can rescue the sector,” Mr Kang’ata told the Nation. “It will also revolutionise the coffee sector given that farmers will get their pay upon delivery.” The Bill seeks to have a fund that will be used to pay the farmers in case the international prices collapse below the guaranteed minimum returns. Farmers in Nyeri have already given the government an ultimatum to come up with a coffee rescue plan and are planning a meeting in Murang’a to address problems bedevilling the sector.

  • Public Accounts Committee will this month begin investigations into the alleged Eurobond and National Youth Service (NYS) scandals. PAC revealed it asked Auditor General Edward Ouko to prepare special reports on the two matters, with a view to using the dossiers as a basis for any further investigations. The committee, chaired by Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) has given Mr Ouko up to the end of this month to table the two reports, after which it will schedule hearing sittings with witnesses. The directives to the auditor were issued late last year, just before the MPs went on recess.  Late last year, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leader Raila Odinga claimed that over Sh140 billion from the sovereign bond could not be traced. The NYS scandal involved the alleged loss of Sh791 million. The payments are a subject of criminal investigations. Ouko's report is expected to shed more light on the two matters and will form part of PAC's final report to be tabled in the National Assembly. 

Editorial:  Early Campaigns, Not Good For the Country
Twenty months away from the 2017 General elections, politicians have started evoking political temperatures and subjecting the country to unnecessary tension. Just last week a foreign journalist expressed her dislike of the current early campaigns by a tweet that read, “It’s literally full election mode here in Kenya and we have another year to go. Not sure I can take this”. The frustrations by the journalist indicates the dangers that politicians are exposing our country to. One, early campaigns are putting Kenya in bad light, internationally, bearing in mind that our politics are “nasty and brutish”. Secondly, early campaigns may have consequences on our economy. Thirdly, they may also affect the already wanting quality of MPs’ work and other elected office holders. Fourthly and finally, early campaigns will only widen ethnic divisions among Kenyans. Internationally, the increased political currents may scare away visitors and therefore harm the now recovering tourism sector. It is estimated that whenever there are political campaigns in Kenya the tourism sector suffers the biggest blow. Read more

Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Hon Robinson Njeru Githae during the debate on Presidential Address to the 10th Parliament on 23rd March 2011.
If you look at the bypasses that are being constructed; the northern bypasses is almost ready, the eastern bypass is almost ready and I have actually used it. I am told that a contract will be awarded for the construction of the southern bypass within the next two months. So, things are happening. We are grateful to His Excellency the President for that. We are also grateful to the President for that public undertaking that he will always follow the Constitution and the law; that in his Government, the rule of law would reign supreme. However, we are messing up things by this early campaign. We still have almost two years to go. Why have we started this early campaign? Can we sustain it? We are losing focus! Let us reduce the political rhetoric in the country and stop early campaigns. Let us stop public rallies and concentrate on what we are required to do; passing laws. Elections will come and go. If we start now, we are going to lose focus. Let us reduce the political temperature so that we can pass the laws that are required. Let us stop some of these theme songs; bado mapambano€. Which mapambano is this now? The days of mapambano are over! If every time we disagree, we are going to go for mass action and demonstrations, then we shall be perpetually on the streets! Read more

Lest we Forget!

Sentiments by Katoo Metito during a debate on The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Bill on 4th May 2011
This Bill is about elections in Kenya. Within the very volatile and charged partisan political environment that exists in this country, it is extremely important that we have a trusted election process where elections will be regarded as fair even by the losing side. Therefore, laws about elections are, obviously, critical to democracy. Mr. Temporary Deputy Speaker, Sir, in Kenya, the importance is even more evident where elections are deeply flawed, bribery and intimidation are wide spread, party nominations are effectively sold to the highest bidder or even given to the cronies of party leaders. Regardless of the law or party regulations, voters’ rolls have always been rigged. Therefore, it is very important that we get a good law to address all these shortcomings. This law originates from the Kriegler Report that found the last general elections generally abused or fully characterized by widespread bribery, voter buying, intimidation and ballot stuffing. In the Kriegler Report, the former Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) was found to lack the necessary independence, the capacity and the functionality and, therefore, it recommended for urgent and radical review of the law. Read more
Newsmaker(s) this week:
Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC) Chairman Mbage Ng’ang’a says MPs erred in making the changes to the Judicial Service (JSC) Act and the National Police Service Act, 2011. Parliament actually overstepped its mandate in changing the law to give President Kenyatta powers to appoint the Chief Justice, deputy CJ and top police officers. He said the changes were made without consultations, which is against the provision on public participation. The changes through the Statute Miscellaneous (Amendment) Act gives the President Powers to hire the next Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice. Consequently, the President will now hire and fire the two Deputy Inspector Generals of police and the director of criminal investigations. KLRC says the changes are a threat to the independence of the Judiciary. Mr Ng’ang’a also challenged the JSC, which is tasked with the responsibility of hiring judges, including the CJ and the deputy CJ to take its position on the matter.
Parliament started its long Christmas recess on Thursday 3rd Dec 2015 and resumes business on 9th February 2016.


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