Plot to bar Raila, Kalonzo from politics

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Nairobi, Kenya: Battle lines between CORD and the ruling Jubilee Coalition have been drawn following renewed efforts to have CORD leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka exempted from receiving retirement benefits unless they quit active politics.

A contentious Bill touching on the retirement benefits of State officers comes up for debate on the floor of the House next week and the two sides were Saturday preparing for another bruising contest.

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The issue is expected to shape into a major political battle as Jubilee and Cord allied MPs discuss the contentious clause, which bars the two leaders from actively engaging in politics if they are to qualify for the retirement perks.

The clause was introduced by the all-powerful House Budgets and Appropriations Committee when the Bill was presented before it for scrutiny.

Null and void

At the centre of the row are fears that the clause opens a window that will lead to the two leaders losing their benefits if they continue playing part in elective politics in the country. The two served as Prime Minister and Vice President, respectively, for five years in the Coalition government.

The threat to the duo’s incentives is compounded by a ruling of National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi that any change in law touching on public funds, is null and void, unless it is approved by the Budget Committee.

The law requires the Committee to “take into account” the views of Treasury’s Cabinet Secretary before approving any amendment in the law.

Friday, the chairman of the Budget Committee Mutava Musyimi set the stage for a fierce debate in the House when he said that any attempt to introduce an amendment to the Bill shall be fiercely opposed.

He cited the ruling by the Speaker, saying that the Constitution gives his committee sweeping powers to scrutinise and make changes to any money Bills before it.

“We shall fight the amendment on the floor of the House. The Budget Committee has enormous powers and judging from what the speaker ruled, it is possible that the amendment will not see the light of day.”

Fresh efforts

The matter has opposition MPs on the tenterhooks, because, they view the Speaker’s interpretation of Article 114 as one that will condemn their leaders to an unappreciated retirement, more so after long service in government.

John Mbadi (Suba) who sponsored the Bill confirmed to The Standard on Saturday that he will be launching fresh efforts to have the clause introduced by the Budget Committee deleted, arguing that the committee has no powers to make changes to private members’ Bills.

Mbadi has been at loggerheads with the House Budget and Appropriations committee which he accused of having inserted the clause ‘secretly,’ when the Bill was taken to it for scrutiny.

“My understanding is that the committee has no mandate to insert clauses in a private members’ Bill. It can only make recommendations. It is unconstitutional to ask someone to retire from politics,” he said.

The Bill is likely to come for the second reading this week and Leader of Majority Adan Duale has been urging Raila and Kalonzo to retire from politics if they are to access their benefits.

Bad faith

The ruling by the Speaker effectively gives the Budget Committee a blank cheque in any amendments touching on money bills. During debate on the Tax bill, amendments that had been introduced by members were thrown out on the basis of the ruling.

During debate on the Bill, there was uproar in the House, as members faulted the ruling  for seeking to ‘emasculate’ the House.

Mbadi accused the committee of having overstepped its mandate, and claimed that it can only make recommendations and not make amendments to a member’s Bill.

Leader of Minority Francis Nyenze, who is allied to the former VP’s Wiper party, told said that attempts to deny the two leaders the retirement benefits was in bad faith.

“If they paid former President Kibaki, there is no reason not to pay our two leaders. This was a coalition government and it is only fair for them to be paid all their dues so that the government is not seen to be biased,” he said.

-standardmedia.co.ke

Showdown over Bill to bar Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka from politics

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