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Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue No 54: 12 - 18, 2015


News of the Week:  
  • Mzalendo study shows women parliamentarians offer value as much as men. The under-representation of Kenyan women in matters of politics and governance necessitated the formulation of the two thirds gender principle to ensure that women have a say. Despite the introduction of the two thirds gender rule, Women Parliamentarians continue to be subjected to stereotypes, sexism and accusations of incompetence. Mzalendo analyzed their contributions to the Hansard for the March 2013 – June 2015 period to assess the value they bring to their constituencies, counties and the country as a whole. From the study, Women Parliamentarians contributions span a wide variety of interests and topics, disproving the notion that most women parliamentarians only cover issues related to women. Read more, and download the report and Infographic.
 
  • The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) has accused MPs of abusing their law-making powers to pass and publish Bills without involving other stakeholders. The passing of the amendment to the Constitution on the Equalization Fund, which has given MPs control of the kitty meant to assist marginalized areas in the counties, has also angered governors. The commission described the passage of the amendment together with publishing of Parliamentary Pensions (amendment) Bill and Parliamentary Society of Kenya Bill as a betrayal of Kenyans since they all violate the Constitution. Recently, governors, in a press statement, maintained that the fund should go directly to the counties and reminded MPs that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), which they controlled, was declared unconstitutional by the High Court. The court found out that a section of the CDF Act offended the principles of public finance and division of revenue as the Constitution does not envisage any other organ or fund to have a share of revenue collected by the national government. Such revenue must be shared between the two levels of government.
  
  • Senators criticized the government for doing little to provide medical emergency care. Speaker Ekwee Ethuro gave Health Committee chairman Mohammed Kuti two weeks to respond after Vihiga Senator George Khaniri demanded an explanation on why an accident victim, Mr. Alex Madaga, died after spending 18 hours in an ambulance awaiting ICU services. The senators want action to be taken against the hospitals that turned away Mr. Madaga, saying it was unethical to focus on money over saving a life.

     
  • Senators have criticized National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi over his remarks that the Senate is failing in its oversight role over county revenue. They accused Mr. Muturi of trying to 'prefect' 'the Senate, yet he has continued to allow bills that frustrate the work of the Senate to be passed in the National Assembly. They were irked by Muturi for questioning what the Senate is doing in the face of numerous reports of lack of prudent use of public funds as detailed in the Auditor General's report. 
        
  • National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi told MPs that he would impose a ban on all foreign travel to make sure that MPs act on parliamentary investigations that have been pending in the House for over a year. The speaker told the House that he would not allow lawmakers to take trips to other countries unless he was satisfied that they had handled all business that is pending before their respective committees. "We will now have an administrative ban on these trips. People must work. They will not be allowed to leave the country without tabling a report of their work here," Mr Muturi said. The speaker said many MPs had brought petitions to the House on behalf of their constituents, but the committees had delayed to give their verdict on the prayers that the petitioners make to the House. He also said that there were so many bills that were pending before committees yet MPs were in no hurry to legislate. Muturi told MPs that he was privy to excuses that committees failed to adopt reports because they lacked the requisite numbers to do so. Just a simple majority of committee members is enough to adopt a report of a committee. 
 
  • Revelations of the hilarious but painful extent to which public officials go to enrich themselves have emerged; telling a different Kenyan story. Over the last two years, national and county governments have splashed billions of shillings in expenses that are hardly priority - some blatant rip-offs of the taxpayer in a manner smacking of impunity. In some cases, there might be no evidence of theft but two things stand out; extravagance and a don't-care-attitude in management of public funds. The latest report by the Controller of Budget, which covered budget expenditure between July 2014 and June 2015, exposes huge spending on non-priority items like allocations to hospitality and travel votes. It echoes the care-free public spending unearthed in the 2013-2014 audit by the Auditor General that reported the Government could not account for Sh67 billion, with Treasury arguing that ministries failed to provide documents; raising questions why they were not immediately available on request. In the latest report, the Controller of Budget explains the Government spent Sh4.2 billion on hospitality, conferences and catering costs, with the Presidency incurring Sh1.4 billion. Overall, the Government spent Sh6.6 billion on domestic travel and Sh4.2 billion on international travel.
 
  • The Auditor General has refuted claims he sanctioned payment of Sh250 million to a firm supplying election kits in 2013. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) boss, Mr. Ezra Chiloba, had told the National Assembly’s Public Accounts committee that he paid South African firm Face Technologies $2.5 million for supply of electronic Voter Identification Devices (Evids) after the Auditor General cleared the payment. The amount was paid for the supply of 4,600 Evids, for use in the 2013 General Election, but the Auditor General has raised audit queries on the whole procurement process carried out by the IEBC in the last polls. However, Mr. Chiloba defended the payments saying the IEBC conducted due diligence in making the payments saying the commission had saved $2 million, accusing the South African of inflating the cost per unit of the Evids. The IEBC boss also told the parliamentary team that Treasury internal auditor had validated the payments, which was also approved by the National Assembly through the 2014/15 supplementary budget. He also told the committee that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) had also given the payments to Face Technologies the green light.



     


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Editorial:  Kenyan MPs selfishness is appalling!
 

 

The 11th Parliament had a false start in 2013 and it has never quite found its foot since. Goofing has become its enduring identity. There is a ridiculous Parliamentary Society Bill – Bill that proposes counselling and psychiatry services for MPs who lose elections. Kenyan MPs being among the best paid in the world seems to think that tax payers’ money belong to them, for plunder. Psychiatric and counselling services as proposed in the Bill aren’t bad but those aren’t the business of Kenyans. Whether an MP becomes broke or not after his tenure, those are his personal issues. On the issue of Media freedom, Kenya already has so many laws that can be used against a journalist who reports wrong information. If MPs do not want to be criticized let them leave public offices and go back to their private lives where no one will care about them. Our current Parliament is on the wrong side of history. There is still time for Parliamentarians to salvage their legacy and do what is right. Read more


Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Hon. Raila Odinga during debate on the status of the sugar (Amendment) Bill 2006 on 25th September 2007
 
 
“The issue of the plight of the sugar-cane farmers is a very serious one. It is so unfortunate that a very important Bill like this one should have been frustrated. I do not know whether this was done by collusion, or a whole Professor was duped to hand over the authority granted to her by this House! In this year's Budget, they have factored in Kshs600 million to assist coffee farmers, Kshs600 million for pyrethrum farmers but not a penny for sugar-cane farmers! When the farmers in Mumias recently told the Government that the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) was a burden, they were told that they could uproot the sugar-cane and plant guavas instead.” Read Hansard



Lest we Forget!

 

Sentiments by Hon. Olago Aluoch during debate on the erosion of supremacy of parliament by high court judgment on 21st July 2011
 
 
“…that judgment arises from actions of Eric Gor Sungu as the Chairman of a Parliamentary Select Committee inquiring into the demise of the late hon. Dr. Robert Ouko. He is alleged to have uttered certain words within the precincts of Parliament that offended the plaintiff in that suite. The defence that was raised in the High Court is that those issues were privileged and they should not have been subject of a successful High Court suit. In my own view, that judgment impacts so seriously on the privileges of this Parliament that if it is left the way it is, then the freedoms that we enjoy of speech in this House will be curtailed and suits will be filed. Suits will be filed in a flurry of activities against Members of Parliament. I am, therefore, asking that the Chair intervenes in giving directions on what line of action Parliament should take in that judgment so that Parliament is protected from the Judiciary.” Read Hansard



 Newsmaker this week:


Some legislators make mandatory mileage claims weekly even when they don’t use their official cars as stipulated thus abusing the facilitative fund meant to reimburse them for expenses incurred when they drive to their constituency work stations. Makadara MP Benson Kangara has petitioned the National Assembly speaker over the wastage and says he is seeking to have mileage claims scrapped due to emerging integrity issues and what he termed as blatant theft of public funds. He appealed to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate the matter arguing the auditor general’s office has deliberately ignored inquiries into the scandal. Broke MPs who have committed all their salaries in mortgages and other engagements have resorted to making false mileage claims to survive. In the last Financial Year, the National Assembly alone spent Sh1.8 billion to pay mileage claims for some 280 MPs. Up to 50 MPs from Nairobi, Kiambu, Naivasha, Muranga and Kirinyaga have signed Mr. Kangara’s petition though some told the Nation they signed to have equity considered in sharing the 2.9 billion allocated to both the Senate and the National Assembly. Profile


Bills before the National Assembly

Bills in the Second Reading
 
THE HEALTH RECORDS AND INFORMATION MANAGERS BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 24 OF 2015) is sponsored by Hon. Agostinho Neto
 
THE COMMUNITY LAND BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 45OF 2015) is sponsored by The Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
 
THE PHYSICAL PLANNING BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 46 OF 2015) is sponsored by The Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
 
THE COURT OF APPEAL (ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION) BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 52 OF 2015) is sponsored by The Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
 
THE PETROLEUM (EXPLORATION DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCTION) BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 44 OF 2015) is sponsored by The Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
 
THE COMMUNITY LAND BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 45 OF 2015) is sponsored by The Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
 
THE PHYSICAL PLANNING BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 46 OF 2015) is sponsored by The Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
 
THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 36 OF 2015) is sponsored by Hon. Priscilla Nyokabi

THE BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERS BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 37 OF 2015) is sponsored by Hon. Stephen Mule


THE PROTECTION OF THE TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE AND TRADITIONAL CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 48 OF 2015) is sponsored by The Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
 
THE FOREST CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 49 OF 2015) is sponsored by The Leader of the Majority Party 
Hon. Aden Duale
 

Before in the Committee of the Whole
Consideration of the Senate Amendments to the National Drought Management Authority Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 42 of 2013) is sponsored by The Chairperson, Departmental Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Hon. Amina Abdalla
 
Consideration of the Senate Amendments to the Mining Bill (National Assembly Bill No.9 of 2014) is sponsored by The Leader of the Majority Party 
Hon. Aden Duale


 Bills before the Senate

 Bills in the Second Reading

THE OFFICE OF THE COUNTY ATTORNEY BILL, (SENATE BILL NO. 37 OF 2014) is sponsored by the Chairperson, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights Sen. Amos Wako
 
THE KENYA NATIONAL EXAMINATIONS COUNCIL (AMENDMENT) BILL, SENATE BILLS NO. 7 OF 2015 is sponsored by Sen. David Musila
 
THE COUNTY GOVERNMENTS DISASTER MANAGEMENT BILL, (SENATE BILL NO. 40 OF 2014) is sponsored by the Chairperson, Committee on National Security and Foreign Relations Sen. Yusuf Haji



 Bills before Committee of the Whole

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


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



Public Participation

The National Assembly is seeking contributions on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment)  (No. 5) Bill 2015 and Election Laws (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2015. The Bills has undergone first reading and has been committed to the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs for consideration and thereafter report to the House. Submissions on the Bill can be sent to 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  clerk@parliament.go.ke  on or before 5.00pm, Friday 23rd October 2015.


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


Community Land Bill
 
The Community land Bill which is yet to be tabled in Parliament aims to give effect to article 63 (5) of the Constitution. The Bill provides the recognition, protection and registration of community land rights, the management and administration of community land and the role of County governments in relation to unregistered community land. Land being a political hot potato in Kenya the Bill has already stirred an emotive debate within the political circles. Read the Bill here


 
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