Business stalls in Kenyan Parliament

July 20, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – The tug-of-war between Backbench MPs and the Executive seems to be taking its toll on the operations of Parliament almost grounding business in the House.

On Tuesday, the House adjourned over two hours early for the second week running, due to lack of business to transact.

Tuesday afternoon is traditionally reserved for government business but no Motion emanated from the Executive despite having close to 10 Bills pending for discussion.

"The impression out there is that we have no business being around here if there is no business, yet we know that there is a pile of business that should be before this House," complained Budalang\’i MP Ababu Namwamba.

His Ikolomani counterpart Bonny Khalwale said; "these Bills have passed through first reading. They are up there with the government, waiting so that we can do business for the country."

The debate on who should be the Leader of Government Business in the House reared its head again after MPs blamed the confusion due to lack of a HBC chairman.

"Failure of business in the house is because the government does not have a leader of government business," said Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro

Backbench MPs now want the row resolved to ensure efficiency. Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim took issue with Cabinet ministers whom he admonished for failing to take the August House seriously.

"The Chair has done what it could under the law based on its own ability and for us to have more business, the Chair again can only extol on the government side to generate more business. It is not lost to the Chair that the government actually wanted the House to adjourn," he said.

The MPs have in the last two weeks rejected a bid by the Executive to take a one-month break, while Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has objected to a plan by the lawmakers to raise their salaries and allowances.

Meanwhile, Eldama Ravine MP Moses Lessonett has questioned the withdrawal of a Bill by Kigumo MP Jamleck Kamau seeking to have the August 4 referendum postponed to allow for consensus building on contentious issues in the proposed Constitution.

Mr Lessonett said the last minute withdrawal of the Bill, which was listed for the first reading during Tuesday afternoon’s session was awkward, as Mr Kamau had only last week being pushed the House Business Committee to bring it before the House for debate.

"I was expecting the honourable member to be here so that he can tell us whether he was paid for him to drop this Motion," he said.

Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim and several legislators however defended the withdrawal saying the MP had followed proper procedure in doing so.

Mr Namwamba also rubbished the claim by Mr Lessonett saying that it was improper for him to try and lower the integrity of the Parliament and lawmakers.


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