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House to develop new laws to punish MPs behaving badly

Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso outlined the meeting’s resolutions some of which included coming up with a code of conduct for MPs/FILE

Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso outlined the meeting’s resolutions some of which included coming up with a code of conduct for MPs/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 1 – The National Assembly leadership has resorted to amend the Standing Orders to initiate punishment for members who create or participate in disorderly conduct in the House.

During the second and final day of the fourth annual retreat of the National Assembly leadership, Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso outlined the meeting’s resolutions some of which included coming up with a code of conduct for MPs to ensure they upheld the dignity of the House.

“We will amend the Standing Orders to define clearly what disorderly conduct is and what is gross disorderly conduct and provide punishment that is commensurate with each of those offences—the House leadership to also become sensitive in their choice of words when addressing fellow members for the good order of the House and discipline,” said Laboso.

Committees were urged to stick to their role and mandate and to avoid duplicating roles hence wasting public resources.

The retreat concluded that committees probing individuals and institutions instead of working with institutions with expertise in certain areas, choose to do the work themselves thereby resulting in a report having little or no information, warranting another investigation.

“Committees do not have the technical capacity to investigate, they should provide material availed to them and allow professional bodies such as the Auditor General, EACC and others to conduct enquiries and submit their report to committees for verification and confirmation,” said Laboso.

On the complex matter of Inter-party consultations, where Jubilee has been accused of using the ‘tyranny of numbers’ to pass laws that favour them, the meeting reached a decision that Members of Parliament, as the representatives of the people needed to put public interest first and that devoid of political affiliation, the leaders would consult and build a wide consensus on issues before they come to the House.

This is seen as part of the efforts to reduce exchanges which most of the time cause disorder in the House as seen during Decembers’ special sitting to debate the Security Laws Amendment Act, where members came to blows over differing opinions.

They also agreed to amend the Standing Orders to provide that the Parliamentary Accounts Committee and the Parliamentary Investments Committee be a reserved for opposition legislators where the party or parties would be given the power to discharge and replace their members in the committees at will.

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To curb the wastage of public resources over allowances paid to members during parliamentary events, any member who fails to show for a function he/she had confirmed attendance will be surcharged for all the expenses incurred.

The Constitution Implementation and Oversight committee (CIOC) was directed to ensure all bills that were supposed to have been published by the fourth and fifth year in the schedule have been duly published to ensure the constitutional timelines are met.

Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso also announced they would convene for a Kamkunji (informal meeting) on Tuesday to inform members over the progress of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and the way forward following the proposals that the fund be used to boost projects funded by the National Government.

It is expected that during this meeting, members to the task force on CDF would be selected, to initiate the process of amending the CDF Act to ensure it is Constitutional.

The Deputy Speaker also stated that the House would start addressing the issue of the date of the next General Election, the tenure of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the gender formula.

There have been proposals that the date of the next General Election which the Constitution puts as the second Tuesday of August every 5 years, be shifted to every third Monday of December since the earlier date interferes with the school calendar particularly in the case of a run-off and that owing to the fact that term of IEBC commissioners is ending on November 9th 2017, the new body may not be in place by then, and even if they are in place, it would be difficult for them to run a general election after being in office for only one month.

The Gender and Equality Commission is also yet to come up with a formula for the representation of women in elective offices, as debate rages over the proposed methods which include nominations, as was used in the last election, a referendum to initiate the removal of the two-third gender requirement clause and ring-fencing, that certain constituencies be marked out so that only women are elected.

The Supreme Court had ruled that by August this year, the formula should be out, it is not known if this deadline will be met.

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