NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 15 – The National Assembly Committee on Powers and Privileges has dismissed petitions to un-seat Emgwen MP Alex Kosgey and Rongai MP Raymond Moi on the basis of absenteeism.
The committee which is chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi says they found no evidence the duo had missed eight consecutive sittings of the House plenary because the manual and bio-metric system used to record attendance was at times faulty.
“On inquiry, it was established that the transition period when the manual system was being replaced with the electronic one, the bio-metric system failed on various occasions before it was finally collapsed for upgrade.”
“During this period, members’ attendance records reflected discrepancies and inconsistencies. Incidentally, this is the period, the petitioners strongly alleged that their representatives had been absent from the House. The committee recommends that the bio-metric system be made fully foolproof,” read the committee findings.
The Powers and Privileges Committee is charged with investigating all matters pertaining to the discipline of MPs.
The petitions are based on Article 103(1) (b) of the Constitution which empowers the Speaker to declare the office of an MP vacant in case they miss eight consecutive sittings without his written permission.
However, the House team has called for the enactment of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Bill 2014 to fill the legal gaps and to ensure that both Houses of Parliament are ultimately responsible for the regulation of their members including disciplining them for breaches of the House rules.
The Bill, that is currently with the committee for scrutiny has drawn controversy because it also aims to limit the way journalists cover House matters.
MPs are required to register their attendance through the bio-metric registration facilities available at the entrance of the debating chamber whenever they attend sittings.
In a report which was tabled in the House, the committee concluded that the MPs could have been taking part in their respective committee sittings.
The committee claimed that there was malice in the filing of the two petitions for the removal of Kosgey and Moi, citing that in one of the cases, a witness confessed to having been used by election losers to petition the House.
“In principle such scenarios, if not carefully handled, threaten to disenfranchise voters. Great care must be taken to ensure that such petitions are subjected to stringent tests before they are referred to the Committee of Privileges for consideration,” the report said.
At the same time, the House team has recommended Sirisia MP John Waluke and his Teso North counterpart Arthur Odera be formally reprimanded by the Speaker.
The two were reported to have engaged in a verbal altercation that turned physical at the main entrance to Parliament buildings in July.
The report now awaits debate and approval by the House.