, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21 – Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende on Thursday reprimanded a Deputy Chief Whip Johnston Muthama for statements he and a number of MPs made about a UN-sponsored workshop to sensitise Members of Parliament on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Marende advised Joint Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo – who had raised the issue – to refer the matter to the Powers and Privileges Committee which deals with issues regarding privileges of the House, Members and staff.
“It is the view of the Chair, that those comments were inappropriate,” the Speaker said.
He said Mr Muthama should have raised the issue on the floor of the House instead of in the public domain.
“The best place to raise those concerns would have been in this House immediately after the communication had been made; I am sure that the member would take note of these strong sentiments expressed by the Chair on behalf of the House, and refrain from issuing statement that are not warranted, that have no justification in law or fact or otherwise.”
He said that Kenya belonged to the family of the UN and was benefiting from contributions that it makes to the body.
“If the UN offers to sponsor a programme that will entail improving Parliament, I thought you would receive that with joy and pleasure,” he said.
Planning and National Development Minister Wycliffe Oparanya had earlier clarified that the government was not spending any money on the 2-day workshop due to commence on Friday.
“UNDP gets some funding form the UN Headquarters for capacity building and since we signed the declaration, we have not undertaken capacity building workshop for MPs and that’s why I decided this is the appropriate time before we prepare a full report for the 10 years due next year,” he said.
Meanwhile, a civil society alliance working for the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) defended the planned workshop saying ‘it is timely and not a waste of money as claimed by a section of MPs’.
Global Call for Action against Poverty (GCAP) National Coordinator Mwangi Waituru urged parliamentarians to prioritise and not politicise the workshop so that they can discuss the plight of the poor and come up with pro-poor policies that will assist the country in attaining the MDGs.
“We are aware we won’t have funds to invest in the reforms process and development in the next budget; there is a possibility that if our MPs and policy makers do not prioritise poverty alleviation issues, the poor of this nation will suffer,” Mr Waituru said.
He warned that the gains made in the last seven years of improving the livelihoods of at least 10 percent of the poor were likely to be lost as poverty levels increase.
“We want to question the sincerity of our leaders who won’t go to Mombasa. Whether they really want to continue to exploit the weaknesses, the lack of voice for the poor to remain in leadership or they are interested in the welfare of this state” he said.
He argued that it was cheaper to hold the workshop in Mombasa as it will ensure attendance by all MPs as opposed to holding it at The Old Chambers in Nairobi, where MPs cannot ‘make a technical appearance’.
“If Mr Muthama mobilises MPs against attending the workshop he will be doing a disservice to the electorate and the poor of this country and we as GCAP will also do our own mobilisation; If Muthama cannot find time to discuss the plight of 10 million Kenyans who are threatened by imminent starvation, we will bring those Kenyans to Parliament,” he vowed.