NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 – “We are waiting for that Bill and that is the day you will know who stands for the good of this Republic,” are the words of Speaker of the Senate Ekwee Ethuro in reference to controversial clauses in the Powers and Privileges Bill passed by the National Assembly.
Addressing journalists in Mombasa where the Senate on a retreat to craft a new formula for sharing revenue among counties, Ethuro said the Senate will shoot down the draconian Bill if brought before them in its current form since it was aimed at muzzling the media.
“This House stands for the good of this Republic,” asserted Ethuro.
While expressing displeasure about Wednesday’s events when the amendments were adopted, CORD Senators led by Minority Leader Moses Wetangula (Bungoma) distanced the party from blame over the controversial proposals saying the Bill was not sponsored by either the coalition or its constituent parties.
The Opposition had come under fire since the sponsor of the Bill, Eldas MP Adan Keynan is a member of the party. A number of CORD lawmakers also supported retention of the clauses that fly against democratic ideals.
“It was a Bill designed and sponsored by one of our members Adan Keynan. So the views that are outrageous contained in that Bill do not represent the position, views or stand of CORD,” said Wetangula.
He said when the Bill reaches the Senate, “it will meet its waterloo” adding that he was sure no Senator would vote in favour of proposals seen to be clawing back the strides the country has made in terms of freedoms and particularly those that affect the activities of the media.
“Some of us have been victims of media activities, but we will dye defending the freedom of the media even to malign us because that is how society must function,” he added.
His sentiments were reiterated by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale who accused Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi of failing to invoke his powers and resources to advice Kenyan before he approved the motion which raised a lot of constitutional issues.
“It is not enough for Muturi to all the time say I have no vote. He has a role in approving motions and Bills before they come to the House for debate,” posed Khalwale.
He urged the Speaker to take advantage of the legal officers, the researchers and drafters of Bills within parliament to ‘fine-tune’ and review Bills before they are table to save the House from ridicule and embarrassment in future.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr joined his colleagues in threatening court action if the Bill sailed through and President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to it.
On Thursday, Speaker Muturi postponed the final vote on the Powers and Privileges Bill and schedule another day when it will be voted on, in a last ditch effort to seek review.