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Opposition ‘gives up’ on Raila, Kalonzo pensions

Mbadi who sponsored the Bill said they have no choice because they cannot marshal two-thirds support in the House to overturn Kenyatta’s veto/FILE

Mbadi who sponsored the Bill said they have no choice because they cannot marshal two-thirds support in the House to overturn Kenyatta’s veto/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 16 – Suba MP John Mbadi says he will not lobby for support in the National Assembly to overturn a presidential veto on a Bill that gives Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka pension, even if they remain active in politics.

This comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday referred the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill 2013 back to the National Assembly. The law seeks to extend the lucrative retirement packages to cover leaders who served in the Grand Coalition Government between 2008 and 2013.

In his memorandum to the National Assembly, the President said he had concerns on the political activeness of the two, who are currently leading the push for a referendum to amend the Constitution, saying public funds cannot be used to further their ambitions.

Mbadi who sponsored the Bill said they have no choice because they cannot marshal two-thirds support in the House to overturn Kenyatta’s veto to unconditionally hand Odinga, Musyoka and former House Speaker Kenneth Marende lucrative pensions.

“I didn’t expect that from the president; I would have expected that from the foot soldiers and the Jubilee coalition politicians but not from the Head of State who is a unifying factor… it is very unfortunate,” said the second term MP who is also ODM chairman.

“If today I leave office as the Suba MP I will still be pensionable, but that does not stop me from again trying to run for a public office.”

Attorney-General Githu Muigai confirmed the referral but refuse to be drawn into the politics, which according to him is better handled by the National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale.

“The memorandum to Parliament covers the scope of application in terms of the period the Bill is deemed to cover, the persons the Bill is deemed to cover and the scope of political activity that a beneficiary of the pension may engage,” he said.

The AG added: “The discretion on when to assent to any Bill or not is exclusively the President’s. Now, do you want me to say whether those are good things or bad things, I cannot, because that is what he has decided.”

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The President’s recommendation to include former VP Moody Awori and former House Speaker Francis ole Kaparo goes against the National Treasury advisory which was concerned it will be a financial burden if other State officers claim similar pensions.

If the President assented to the Bill, Odinga, Musyoka and Marende would be entitled to perks including extra personnel, armed security, diplomatic passports, and access to VIP lounges in airports in addition to financial packages.

In addition, they will be entitled to two saloon vehicles with an engine capacity not exceeding 2000cc replaceable every four years, one four-wheel drive vehicle with a maximum engine capacity of 3000 cc, monthly fuel allowance equivalent to 15 per cent of the last monthly salary, medical cover providing local and overseas treatment for themselves and their spouses.

Duale has sponsored an amendment to the Retirement Benefits Bill to define the term ‘elective politics’.

The amendment says elective politics is the holding of a position or office in a political party.

It goes on to say that ‘elective politics’ is any activity that a person engages in whether directly or indirectly, aimed at influencing decision making by public authorities or intended to change public policy.

“It is also any activity intended to shape public opinion with respect to government decision-making or policy intended to influence the outcome of any referendum or election or appointment in any office at any level of the government of Kenya,” says the amendment.

House Speaker Justin Muturi had earlier cautioned the House that the amendment can be struck off by the courts on the grounds that it is discriminating against the three and therefore unconstitutional.

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