NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 – Members of Parliament may be compelled to hold a sitting on Saturday if a Motion seeking to extend the deadlines of crucial land Bills, by 60 days, fails.
The Motion, which was filed by the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) on Wednesday, has to get the support of at least 148 MPs to succeed.
CIOC chairman Abdikadir Mohammed argued that the Bills raised critical concerns among various land stakeholders and should not be rushed to Parliament.
“We require 148 members to support that motion otherwise it will be defeated. And if we don’t get that number then we will have the Saturday deadline. So we might have to sit up to Saturday to push for that,” he said.
Mohammed, who addressed a press conference accompanied by Legal Affairs committee vice chairman Njoroge Baiya and member Olago Aluoch (Kisumu Town West), noted that land was an emotive topic for Kenyans and there was need to set up effective laws to correct any historic injustices that were outstanding.
“We have held discussions as the CIOC, the Legal Affairs Committee, the Lands Committee together with the Chief Whips and we are all in agreement that there is need for more time,” he said.
Baiya also pleaded with the Executive to support the Motion to avoid jeopardising the quality of the Bills.
He said it would be crucial for the Executive to mobilise its members and ensure that the minimum requirement was met further blaming it for delaying the Bills.
“These are not matters to be lightly taken and we require time so it will not be possible to pass good quality Bills by Saturday. We will only be doing so for technical compliance and we will give Kenyans half baked legislations,” he argued.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo has already registered disapproval for the extension saying there is still time to pass the Bills.
Speaking during the second reading of the National Land Commission Bill, Kilonzo argued that there was a risk of overshadowing the Bills with the country’s focus shifting to the forthcoming polls.
“We should not extend the time; we have sufficient time to pass these Bills by Sunday. In fact, we should even sit on Sunday to pass the Bills,” he asserted.
Gichugu MP Martha Karua also said that there was no need to extend the deadlines.
Mohammed however expressed confidence that the Motion, which is expected to be debated on Thursday, would meet the requisite support.
The CIOC had earlier called for a three-month extension of the Bills but Mohammed told journalists on Wednesday that after further consultations, line committees had resolved to seek a two months extension.
He also accused the Executive of using Parliament as a rubber stamp for the passage of Bills.
“The Executive has been putting Parliament in a corner to pass the Bills but we need more time,” he said.
Karua, in the meantime noted, the importance of the National Commission Bill saying it would help stem corruption in the sector.
“Corruption has not been battled in the ministry of lands and we need to unravel the corruption that goes on at the ministry,” she said.
Lari MP David Njuguna added that the Bill would help control land problems in the country while singling out the land at Mbo-i-Kamiti.
The Bill also drew the support of Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi.
On the other hand, the Land Registration Bill is still undergoing the second reading while the Land Bill has undergone the first reading.