NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 18 – President Uhuru Kenyatta got his way after opposition MPs in the National Assembly failed to muster the two-thirds majority required to alter demands that former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka quit politics to qualify for pension from the government.
House Majority Leader Aden Duale said President Kenyatta referred the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill, back to the because he had concerns on the political activeness of the two who are currently leading the push for referendum to amend the Constitution, saying public funds cannot be used to further their ambitions.
“I have no regrets; I am the advisor to one of the best presidents in the world, for that I have no regrets. This must come out very clearly nobody is denying you all your political and democratic rights. This particular action is within Article 115. MPs have the right to raise the two-thirds majority. The president is not abusing any part of the Constitution. There’s leeway, people can go to court,” said Duale.
Jubilee Coaltion MPs Johnson Sakaja (Nominated), Ronald Tunoi (Baringo Central), Kabando wa Kabando (Mukurwe-ini) and Mithika Linturi (Igembe South) however took a separate stand from that of the majority leader and blamed the president’s advisers for misleading him.
“The little money that is due to go to the former Prime Minister and Vice President is not for campaigns. It is for services already rendered. Those who are misadvising (sic) the President on this issue to make him look petty and vindictive are not doing us a service.” Sakaja continued, “The government loses nothing by being magnanimous and giving people their rights. You can’t deny people their rights. I know the President well and this does not look like him”.
Linturi added: “I honestly and very sincerely oppose that mischievous amendment. In any case when we pay pension dues we recognize the work that has already been done. It will be very dishonest to stand and say that the people that served in the office of Prime Minister and Vice-President did not do anything meaningful. It is a right that you cannot take from anybody.”
“What we are trying to do, and we may think that as Jubilee Coalition are doing good, we are creating a very bad picture of the leader of Jubilee,” said Kabando.
CORD MPs John Mbadi (Suba), Millie Odhiambo (Mbita) , Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and Marcus Muluvi (Kitui East) said the clause by the President was discriminatory with Ugenya MP David Ochieng saying he will move to court to challenge it.
” This is very unfortunate. When one retires, he retires from a specific role. Let us be frank that the person being targeted is Raila and Kalonzo. It is totally unconstitutional that once they retire they cannot aspire to any other office. The fact that the President is trying to use this House to eliminate would-be opponents is illegal and can be a ground for impeachment. This is unconstitutional,” said Wandayi.
“This whole proposal is done in bad faith, and the President should know that this will not pass the test of constitutionality in the court. We might not have the numbers here, but you can be sure that I David Ochieng will go to court,” said Ochieng’.
Despite joining hands with the opposition, their rejection of the memo failed because they could not achieve the 233 MPs threshold required to over-ride the president’s recommendation.
Temporary Speaker Tom Kajwang who was presiding over House business, called for physical count of the members present and announced there were only 84 lawmakers present even after he ordered for the Division Bell to be rang for 10 minutes.
Through the same action the House approved the inclusion of former vice president Moody Awori and Musalia Mudavadi and former House Speaker Francis Ole Kaparo to the list of those to receive pensions.
Spouses of deceased former Vice-President George Saitoti and Micheal Kijana Wamalwa will receive 50 percent to the lump sum payment.