NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 – Majority Leader in the National Assembly Adan Duale says lawmakers will bar Governors from using the title ‘His Excellency’ and flying the national flag on their official vehicles from next week.
Duale who spoke at the AGM of the Belgut Women Empowerment in Kericho says most Governors wield immense power while misusing public funds, which must be clipped.
“If they do not become the Governors of the people, then we are going to remain with very few Governors,” he warned.
“We did not ask for devolution for Governors to have 20 bodyguards, 20 vehicles, his wife to be called her Excellency or him Mr Excellency …or even (flying) flags. The issue of flags, we are going to end it next week.”
Duale spoke even as Governors converged in Mombasa for a retreat to deliberate the stalemate with Senators and Members of the National Assembly.
The National Flag, Emblems and Names Bill by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale is up for debate in the National Assembly after the Senate approved it in November.
The Bill is aimed at bringing order in the government hierarchy.
“The object and purpose of this Bill is to amend the National Flag, Emblems and Names Act (Cap. 99) to reserve the flying of the national flag on motor vehicles to the following State officers: the President, the Deputy-President, the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Speaker of the Senate,” states Khalwale’s amendment.
According to Khalwale’s Bill, in the new government leadership structure, Governors will be ranked below Senators and the title ‘His Excellency’ stripped off them. The title will be restricted to the President and Deputy President.
The Bill seeks to rank the Auditor General as a State officer in the same level with the Attorney General.
The Senators said power struggles and titles should not cloud the mind of leaders. They should work for the electorate.
But another the Bill which seeks to amend the same National Flag, Emblems and Names Act sponsored by Eldas MP Adan Keynan is also in the works but this seeks to have Governors included in the list of Government officials whose cars can deck the national flag.
“The objective of this Bill therefore is to remove the matter of flying of the national flag from the ambit of subsidiary legislation and entrench it in the substantive law, and to widen the scope of officers allowed to fly the national flag on their motor vehicles to take cognisance of new offices established under the Constitution,” reads the Bill’s Objects of Memorandum.
Keynan’s Bill seeks to provide for an extension of the usage of the national flag to include other Kenyans who will be expected to use it in a “dignified way.”
The Bill proposes that a person who contravenes this provision be liable to a fine of up to Sh1 million or to imprisonment of up to five years or both.
The current law was inspired by the country’s founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, who in July 1963 complained that the flag was being misused by being displayed “even in lavatories”.
Speaking in Parliament, Mzee Kenyatta told MPs: “The government recognizes that a national flag must not only be a symbol of unity but one that commands respect of all our people… of late we have seen party flags flown by every Tom, Dick and Harry.”
“Apart from this being illegal, it means that flags have appeared in practically any place, even in lavatories. The national flag must not and will not be flown by any person other than Cabinet ministers and any specifically authorised persons… the reproduction of the flag will not be allowed… no person will be authorised to fly a flag with a Coat-of-Arms, except the head of government,” he decreed.
The Bill came up for debate amidst complaints by legislators from both Houses that Governors had transformed themselves into “small presidents”.
The President Uhuru Kenyatta allowed Governors to fly the national flag on their vehicles last year.
Under the National Flag, Emblems and Names Act Cap 99 Laws of Kenya, only the President, Deputy-President, Chief Justice, Speaker of the National Assembly, Ministers, and the Attorney-General are allowed to fly the National Flag.
Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki also said that they will explore all legal ways to ensure they keep Governors accountable.
Kithure specifically said that the Senate will not be intimidated in their quest to protect devolution.
“Let me tell the Governors, you can run but you cannot hide,” he stated.
The current row was sparked by the suspension of the impeachment of Martin Wambora as Embu Governor by the courts.