Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue No 45: 10 - 16 August, 2015

News of the Week:
  • Ijara MP Hon. Ahmed Abass has accused the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) of committing atrocities against civilians in his constituency. The MP linked KDF to the death of four herders in the area this year. The youthful legislator said the KDF officers posted in the border sub-county to protect the locals from external aggression perpetuated by Somali-based terrorists, were turning out to be the biggest enemies of the people. He now wants the Government to investigate the kidnapping of two young herders last week whom residents claimed were brutally killed and their bodies burnt. The ODM legislator called for the immediate withdrawal of the officers from his constituency claiming that the officers were of more threat to the people than the Al Shabaab. The MP claimed people in the area are no longer willing to report anything to the security officers for fear of being treated as the first suspects.

  • The National Land Commission will not handle the issue of historical injustices until Parliament passes a Bill on it. House Committee on Lands chairman Hon. Alex Mwiru said the proposed law had been delayed by failure by the ministry and Parliament to agree on the matter. Mr Muiru said the problem was also due to the redrafting of the Bill after the ministry and the commission provided additional information. The Investigations and Adjudication of Historical Land Injustices Bill is among the proposed laws Parliament is expected to pass by August 27. During the three-day retreat, the House team discussed three other Bills set to be presented in Parliament in two weeks. They include the Minimum and Maximum Land Holding Acreage as well as Community and Physical Planning Bills. The Minimum and Maximum Land Holding Bill was opposed by a number of MPs. Mr Muiru said the Bill was controversial, given that land is a sensitive issue in the country. It proposes a minimum acreage of 3,000 for pastoralists and a maximum of 40,000. The proposal has met strong opposition from big land owners.
  • The High Court in Nairobi put on hold Imenti Central MP Gideon Mwiti trial for alleged rape. Judge Weldon Korir granted him a reprieve after lawyers representing the complainant in a magistrate’s court protested against the publication of confidential information of a medical report in a newspaper. While the MP’s lawyer, Mr. John Khaminwa, defended the report, Justice Korir, before halting the trial, said the case in which the MP is seeking to permanently stop the trial, had raised some weighty issues, “which might require to be determined by a full bench”. The judge said the role of the complainant in a trial needed to be established, among other issues, in determining Mr Mwiti’s case in the High Court. The MP’s trial had been set for August 19.
  • Members of Parliament who sit on the National Assembly’s Agriculture Committee, have demanded details of the trade agreement that President Uhuru Kenyatta signed with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni. The deal on Uganda’s sugar exports to Kenya in exchange for dairy and beef products has rattled the lawmakers, many of them from the country’s sugar belt, who said it was likely to kill struggling local millers, and consign sugarcane farmers to poverty. The MPs said the little information in the public domain about the deal spelled doom for the region, and asked President Kenyatta to “cancel the deal” in public interest. MPs Florence Mutua, Frederick Outa, Gladys Wanga and Fatuma Ibrahim said the deal was likely to open doors for barons to smuggle sugar imported from elsewhere in the world into Kenya. The lawmakers agreed that while they were criticizing the deal, they hadn’t seen it. The law requires Parliament to approve or be informed on all bilateral deals or treaties that the Government signs with foreign entities.
  • Police in Witu division, Lamu West, have impounded a lorry belonging to Lamu West MP Julius Ndegwa ferrying bhang into the county. Confirming the incident, a police chief who did not want to be named said the Mitsubishi Canter was impounded by officers manning a roadblock. Police recovered 390 rolls of bhang and 24 sachets of heroin. The street value of the bhang is estimated at Sh150,000. The vehicle was ferrying the narcotics from Mombasa to Lamu before suspicious police officers decided to flag it down and conduct a search. The officer also confirmed that all the occupants of the vehicle were arrested, including lorry driver Martin Njuguna, loader Kahuki Kanyinge and a man suspected to be the courier of the narcotics, Joseph Gathunga Mbugua.
  • Investors inched closer to establishing businesses in exclusive tax-exempt zones after Parliament approved the Special Economic Zones Bill, 2015. MPs concluded debate on the Bill which seeks to provide for the establishment of special economic zones. The Bill, published by Leader of Majority Hon. Aden Duale on February 12, also seeks the promotion and facilitation of global and local investors.  The Bill further spells out regulation and administration activities with the special economic zones with specific emphasis on openness, competiveness and accountability. The Bill, which now awaits scrutiny at the committee stage before it is assented into law by the President is aimed at creating an enabling environment for the development of all aspects of special economic zones. It also provides for the regulation and administration of activities within the zones in order to promote openness.
  • A petition seeking to compel the government to provide free cancer treatment and diagnosis for Kenyans is finally being considered by the National Assembly. The petition, tabled into the house by Majority Leader Hon. Aden Duale, is now being considered by the National Assembly's Health Committee, where it was referred to by the House. The petition has been prepared by Solomon Mburung'a, whose wife is a cancer survivor, and will be debated by MPs once the Health committee has conducted hearings about it and prepared a report. The petitioner wants the changes to be made to the Cancer Prevention and Control Act (2012) to compel the State to provide free treatment to cancer patients similar to other killer diseases such as HIV and Malaria. Mr Mburung'a said that since his wife was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, they have spent at least Sh7 million in treatment, a figure he said is unaffordable to many Kenyans.
  • Youth in the Coast who are members of the Mombasa Republican Council are to blame for the rampant insecurity and economic woes arising from a slump in tourism, Kisauni MP Hon. Rashid Bedzimba has said. The MP told the youth to shun leaders using them to fight government. The MP’s remarks come a week after people suspected to be members of MRC threatened to cause mayhem in Kilifi County. Security agents are combing the county in search of members of the group. Locals have complained of police harassment as a result although an MRC spokesman denied the arrest of 38 members. Mr. Bedzimba said Mombasa and the Coast region in general have fallen from the tourism glory because of insecurity resulting from terror threats from MRC and Al-Shabaab. He said other parts of the country rely on flowers, tea, and other cash-crops, adding that the Coast will continue sliding into poverty while other counties flourish.  
  • In order to vie for MP in 2017, the IEBC has proposed that candidates hold degrees from recognized universities. The commission has submitted changes, including academic qualifications, for hopefuls vying for various positions in the general election. Parties interested in becoming MCAs will need a post-secondary diploma, at least, to contest in the next election, and a degree for the 2022 poll. The Elections Act says only the president, deputy president, governors and deputy governors are required to hold a degree from recognized institutions. The constitution and the County Government Act do not specify academic qualifications for MCAs. The move aims to improve the quality of leadership for leaders who have been accused of passing substandard laws and not grasping basic principles of devolution, economics and finance. The commission said the party nominations period will remain 90 days before a general election.
Editorial:  KDF Amendment Bill needs revision

The Kenya Defence Forces (Amendment) Bill 2015 that seeks to amend the Kenya Defence Forces Act 2012 has wanting provisions. A study of the recently published Bill reveals key issues that are inconsistent with a free and democratic society. The Bill’s provisions will affect all Kenyans. For instance, removing obligations to compensate or pay all dues for officers on duty is something their family members will feel. However on the good side, the Bill contains some prudent provisions. The National Assembly needs to interrogate it, when it is committed to the committee stages and also provide for adequate and robust public participation. The Senate should also have its input on the Bill. Read more

Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Hon. Aden Sugow during debate on invasion of wetlands by water hyacinth on April 3, 2007

“There are several factors that have contributed to the increase of the water hyacinth. The first one is natural - the availability of light, nitrogen and phosphorus. That condition is currently very prevalent. The light conditions in the lake area are conducive to the spread of that particular weed. I agree with Prof. Olweny that the reduction of the hyacinth that was observed during 1997/1998 was attributed to the introduction of the weevil. There is a reduction in the number of weevils. That is an issue that we are currently investigating with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). We are controlling and determining levels of nutrients in the waters so that, that atmosphere that has been created within the water is not conducive to the spread or growth of the water hyacinth. There is nothing that can be done on lighting. But a study is being done to determine what happened to the weevils, so that we can increase their numbers. We also want to contain the nutrients in the water.” Read Hansard

Lest we Forget!


Sentiments by the Hon. William Ruto when responding to question on the state of Sugar Industry in Kenya on 15th September 2009.

“The current sugar situation in the country is not artificial, as has been projected by certain sections of the media. It is a reality that has been brought about by external factors as well as internal factors. The World sugar production for the year ending September, 2009 crop is established at 154.5 million tonnes, compared to 166.7 million tonnes realized in the previous year… Any sugar imported from non-COMESA region has attracted duty as the law demands…. In the last five years, the sugar industry has seen reforms that have facilitated the millers and farmers to continue in business, despite the harsh realities of regional and international competition. That includes corporate governance reforms where we have changed managements, performance-based management contracts to ensure efficiency and effective operations. We have undertaken debt restructuring, suspension of interest and penalties on previous loans owed by farmers and millers to the Sugar Development Fund (SDF) amounting to Kshs4.7 billion to avoid sugar companies continuing to incur huge losses. With effect from 1st July, 2009, the sugar companies adopted a cane payment formula which pegs the price of cane to that of sugar and incorporates a quality variable. As a result, farmers have been able to enjoy high producer prices. In fact, this year saw a record Kshs3,250 per tonne being paid to farmers. That is a record in the history of the sugar industry in our country. We have also increased funding to research by twice the amount it was last year. The Kenya Sugar Research Foundation is currently undertaking expansion and modernization of its facilities. On sugar import regulations, the Government has developed the sugar import regulations to protect millers and farmers from unfair competition from importation. The Government streamlined its surveillance capability to ensure effective monitoring of sugar importation by putting in place mechanisms that enable it to closely monitor and regulate sugar imports in accordance with regulation provisions in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) agreements. In 2003, the Government effected the import/export regulations that provided for registration of sugar importers and exporters hence effectively monitoring the movement of sugar. In 2008, the Government amended the regulations to make them more effective as they were being grossly abused by unscrupulous traders. The Sugar Regulations, 2008, therefore, provide for issuance of permits on a consignment basis instead of the blanket annual licences previously used.” Read Hansard

Newsmaker this week:

Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow has protested the decision by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to transfer more than 800 teachers from northeastern Kenya due to insecurity. Mr. Kerrow said the decision was a serious indictment of the government’s ability to address the marginalization and official neglect of the region. He observed that teachers and other public servants cannot refuse to work in any part of the country in disregard of the official government policy. The teachers have since reported to their new stations after a protracted court battle with their employer. However, the status of 200 remaining teachers is still under review. The teachers, who are not natives of the northeastern region, had also complained of harassment by locals. The senator added that the government had also declined a request by local leaders to allow school boards and counties to recruit teachers. He warned that the government's failure to address the education crisis affecting hundreds of students in the region was bound to create resentment and provide extremist groups an opportunity to fill that vacuum. However, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) welcomed the move, saying that teachers also have a right to life. Profile

Bills in the National Assembly 

Bills at the Committee of the whole House

The Insolvency Bill (National Assembly Bill No.15 of 2015) is sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale

The Higher Education Loans Board (Amendment) Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 09 of 2015) is sponsored by Hon. Irungu Kang'ata
Bills in the third reading

THE COMPANIES BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 22 OF 2015) is sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
Bills in the second reading

THE BUSINESS REGISTRATION BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO.13 OF 2015) is sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE FINANCE BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 27 OF 2015) is sponsored by Chairperson, Departmental Committee on Finance, Planning and Trade Hon. Benjamin Langat
THE POLITICAL PARTIES (AMENDMENT) BILL (SENATE BILL NO.3 OF 2014) is sponsored by Chairperson, Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs Hon. Samuel Chepkonga
THE STATUTE LAW (MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENTS) BILL (SENATE BILL NO. 4 OF 2014) is sponsored by Chairperson, Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs Hon. Samuel Chepkonga

Bills in the first reading

THE KENYA REGIMENT (TERRITORIAL FORCE) (REPEAL) BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 39 OF 2015) sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE MAGISTRATES’ COURTS BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 40 OF 2015) sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale
THE KENYA DEFENCE FORCES (AMENDMENT) BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 41 OF 2015) sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party Hon. Aden Duale

Public Participation

The National Assembly is seeking contributions on the Biomedical Engineers Bill 2015. The Bill has undergone first reading and has been committed to the Departmental Committee on Health for consideration and thereafter report to the House. 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 on or before Thursday 24th August 2015 at 5.00pm

Senate on recess

The Senate adjourned on Thursday last week until Tuesday, 15th September, 2015

Kenya Defense Forces Bill 2015

There is a draft Kenya Defense Forces Bill 2015 which proposes to amend the current Act and has a raft of far reaching amendments. You can download and read it here

Political parties disenfranchise youths in politics

Political parties in Kenya have locked out the youth in their activities, a report by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy-Kenya (CMD-Kenya) has stated. The report reveals how party structures and practices have denied young people the chance to actively take part in their affairs. According to the report, titled Youth in Political Party Participation in Kenya Baseline Study-2015, there seems to be a disconnect between the youth and party politics, which could be aggravated by apathy and lack of internal party democracy. The report says often the youth are relegated to the lower and insignificant positions, such as youth leagues, with limited resources and authority to meaningfully influence party decisions. The report adds that those who get posts owe it to their closeness to power brokers and what they are able to deliver to the political party elite. CMD-Kenya conducted the baseline survey to determine the level of youth involvement in political parties. The objective was to establish the levels of the youth’s inclusion, their positions, and the quality of their leadership in political parties. It sought to provide information on youth participation in party activities and processes, including policy making, representation, party leadership, party campaigns, recruitment of members, communication, voting in party elections, nurturing intra-party democracy and youth organizations. The report says although 60 per cent of the youth voted in the last general election, the number is much lower than voters who are aged 35 years and above. It shows membership of youth in political parties, with ODM and UDF leading at 61 and 60 per cent, respectively. However, ODM trails at 18 per cent when it comes to parties that have youth as their officials. “The youth could be categorized as marginalized in representation in the political processes in the country, especially in leadership positions, including such positions in political parties,” the report states. The report recommended that political parties ensure they comply with the law to end the marginalization of the youth in managing their affairs and in county and national leadership. The report also recommended affirmative action to increase the number of young people in party leadership and representative assemblies.

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