Calls for former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to retire from politics resurfaced Monday ahead of the publication of a Bill setting their send-off packages this week.
Leader of Majority in Parliament Aden Duale vowed to mobilise MPs allied to the ruling coalition not to pass the Bill unless Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka quit active politics.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said at the weekend that he had cleared the Bill for publication and onward tabling in the House this week.
The Bill is set to come at the same time with that of Suba MP John Mbadi, which has been forwarded to the Government Printer for publication.
Mr Duale insisted it was morally wrong for Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka alongside other recipients of the send-off packages, to receive the money and remain in active politics.
“From where I sit, they must quit politics. The word retirement means you have retired from active public duty. That is Jubilee’s position. When the Bill comes to Parliament, Jubilee will take a position,” he said.
“It is not only for the former VP and former PM, but everybody who will benefit from the passage of this Bill. They must quit active politics and join the retired Presidents Moi and Kibaki if they want to enjoy these benefits,” he said.
Mr Odinga scoffed at Mr Duale’s threats, saying, he would not quit politics for financial gain.
“Mr Odinga intends to remain active in politics, which he sees as a duty and service to his country and to humanity. He does not intend to take instructions from Jubilee on what he can and cannot do with his constitutional rights,” the former PM’s spokesman, Mr Dennis Onyango said.
“Mr Odinga will equally not let go of principles he has held dear about Kenya in exchange for money and he will not succumb to Jubilee’s fear just to get paid what is due him as a result of work he has done for the country. The thinking that everything in life can be abandoned in exchange for money is alien to him,” he added.
Besides setting the send-off packages for the former PM and former VP, the proposed law also sets retirement benefits for the Deputy President and other top State officials.
“We are in agreement on the people to be covered in the Bill. It will cover senior officials in the three arms of government… that is the Deputy President, the Speaker of Parliament, Chief Justice, the former PM and the former VP” Mr Rotich told the Budget and Appropriation committee.
He said the Bill, alongside two others, had gone for publication to be tabled in Parliament this week.
Monday, Mr Mbadi said his proposed Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill, 2013, was to be published last Friday to clear the way for the processing of the legislation.
He said there was an attempt by some MPs to bar Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka from benefiting by inserting a clause stopping politically active persons from accessing the pay-out.
“My Bill was meant to benefit everyone including Mr Odinga and Mr Kalonzo but some people at the budget committee introduced clauses targeting the two,” Mr Mbadi stated.
The Suba MP had previously complained about the Treasury’s move to publish a separate Bill.
“Why are you doing new Bills at the Treasury when we have sent ours to the printer? We have sent… the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill, 2013 and the VAT (Amendment), Bill 2013 for publication,” he said.
This is the second time that Parliament will be seeking to set retirement benefits for Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka after retired President Mwai Kibaki refused to assent to the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Bill, 2012, because MPs sneaked in clauses to reward themselves.
Each of the 210 MPs would have pocketed Sh9.3 million as winding up allowance. Then deputy Prime Ministers Musalia Mudavadi and Uhuru Kenyatta, Speaker Kenneth Marende, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Chief of Kenya Defence Forces Julius Karangi would have been the other beneficiaries.
Although details of the retirement packages contained in the Treasury Bill are yet to be revealed, Mr Mbadi said it could cost the taxpayer about Sh484 million a year to sustain the retirees.
The Bill recommends that pension be pegged at 80 per cent of the basic pay the State officials earned while they were in office in addition to a house, fuel and medical allowances.
Apart from Mr Odinga and Mr Kalonzo who head the opposition Cord coalition party, Mr Mbadi’s Bill seeks to confer retirement benefits on Mr Marende, speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Ekwee Ethuro (Senate) and their deputies Lorna Laboso and Kembi Gitura, Dr Mutunga and his deputy Kalpana Rawal, Mr Karangi and Attorney General Githu Muigai.
The retired officials will be entitled to cars, office and domestic workers, fully equipped offices, diplomatic passports and VIP treatment at all local airports.
The proposed retirement packages are bound to change once the two Bills are officially published this week. Parliament will scrutinise both Bills and propose harmonisation.-nation