3rd of 3 reports by anonymous
5:30 to 6:30 Thursday October 26
Walk into parliament just as the controversial issue of parliamentary nominations of the east African legislation assembly (EALA). MP Nicholas Biwott is speaking before an almost full house and gloating, defending the nomination rules, saying last time shoe was on other foot for both Martha Karua and Raila Odinga. He also hoped Narc would get her house in order like KANU had with the nominations.
MP Mwandawiro Mghanga said that MP’s parliament the flawed nomination process was due to the nature of parties like Ford-P whose ticket he came to parliament on but whose members abandoned him when they all trooped to become government ministers. At this point, Ford-P chairman, and Roads Minister Simeon Nyachae stood and replied Mghanga should stop claiming to be a Ford P MP, saying that he was not even in the members register or recognized in any capacity by the party, except this parliament, and they were waiting for elections to kick him out.
Najib Balala said it was a sad day when democracy failed, since the interests of the minority were trampled by the majority and said the speaker had failed to sort out the matter of MP’s and their parties. He added that since Narc was dead, all MP’s should resign and go home for fresh elections. Speaker Kaparo cautioned him not to revisit the matter since he had ruled on it, but Balala continued that his party would challenge the nominations before the East African court of appeals.
Speaker Kaparo then commented that the matter of MP’s and their party affiliation was something that should have been sorted out long ago, and MP’s have only themselves to blame if they felt short-changed in the process adding that the list of nominees presented by the house business committee was final. He added that, as a result, MP’s were living a lie – the fruits of which was now being seen and urged MP’s to sort out the matter since they were there and knew the genesis of the situation adding that one day there will be a new speaker and MP’s who will have no institutional memory of how the party issue become so confusing.
Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri was next and he lamented that the speaker and the house had spent so much time discussing political party matters. He said the business of the house and MP’s was to pass laws and the house should leave parties to settle their affairs away from parliament.
EA Minister John Koech tried to speak, but MP’s (largely from opposition side) called for Health Minister Ngilu to speak since she was the Narc chairperson. Ngilu said that she had followed all the nomination procedure as head of her party in terms of correspondence with the clerk of the national assembly clerk, consulted, responded and submitted names all within 14 day deadline. If rules, or the nominee lists, were changed later, so be it.
Assistant Minister Wetangula said it was wrong for MP’s like Anyang Nyongo to complain that they were being oppressed through the party nominations process.
Minister Koech finally spoke to close the debate, but as he did, almost all MP’s from the opposition side stood and walked out, leaving about 3 sitting there. Koech reiterated that the nominations were not done by force or power; but that this was the state of parliament and no rules were broken.
Next up was Finance minister Amos Kimunya presenting the second reading of a repeal of business licences bill. As he talked, many MP’s now from the government side also left, having completed the main business of the day, leaving about 10 MP’s on his side, debating with 4 on the opposition side. He mentioned that the bill would eliminate hundreds of licences that had been there since the colonial government and which were now repressive, hindrance to business today and which scared away new investors.
He mentioned some of them like requiring shops to not operate at certain times/days, forbade traditional alcohol brewing. He also mentioned that he had given municipal councils until December to report back to him, though their minister, on which local government licenses would also be eliminated.
Assistant minister Peter Kenneth seconded the bill with a comment that it would also help business people and spur economic growth.
MP Gor Sunguh also supported the bill, but called for more support for Kenyan entrepreneurs lamenting that (descendants of) coolies from India to this day still run shops from river road Nairobi to supplying the market as far as Kisumu. He also complained to the speaker that the bill they were discussing was no. 20 while a bill he had sponsored (no. 2) has never been brought up for debate by the house business committee.
Minister Mutahi Kagwe supported the bill, which would eliminate ridiculous provisions of the law such as requiring a rural household to get a permit before selling milk to a neighbouring household. He said significant savings would be gained from the time that would now not be wasted chasing useless licenses.
Justin Muturi supported the bill but lamented that a house committee had not gone out to popularise the positive effects of this bill to Kenyans.
Assistant Minister Wetangula said the bill would eliminate frivolous laws e.g. requirement to get a permit before constructing a cattle dip. He then lamented that members of that same committee were not in the house at present to support the bill. At this point Sunguh stood up and defended the chairman of that committee, who he said was also his father in law, saying he had spoken to and received assurance from the chairman that he fully supported the bill.
State Minister Michuki spoke to support the bill but also to alert the minister that the law on traditional alcohol will have to be clearly spelt out otherwise a repeal would have unintended effects. He pointed out that the definition of traditional alcohol is that its’ fermentation ‘had not been arrested’ i.e. it is still fermenting even as it is drunk.
The bill was then passed with unanimous Aye’s by the about 15 MP’s in the house.
Minister Kimunya then moved on to the next debate which was amendments to the Finance Bill. He mentioned that since he presented his budget in June, his office had received feedback from various bodies and that amendments would take into consideration contributions from bodies on issues like the sugar levy and insurance sector reform.
It was now 6:30 PM, and at this point a sergeant stood and signaled to the Speaker who then interrupted Minister Kimunya and adjourned house business till next Tuesday.
The (temporary) speaker was able to notice that MP David Mwanzia exited the chamber through a side door, which was illegal, and informed a sergeant to go and bring him back to explain – yet he allows debate to go on and bills be passed without a quorum in the house i.e. less than 30 MP’s.
For another view on the EALA controversy, see Edwin Mutai’s report in the Kenya Times.