Thursday, July 18, 2024

Queries over MPs trip to the US

QUESTIONS are being raised as to why some ministers sponsored a number of MPs to travel to the United States to attend the US-Africa Summit.

It is unclear why some government departments decided to sponsor four MPs who traveled without the approval of the Speaker of the National Assembly.

The ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade led by Ambassador Amina Mohammed and that of Devolution and Planning of Anne Waiguru paid for the MPs to accompany President Uhuru Kenyatta to the US separately. It is unclear how much they spent.

The House’s Standing Orders require that the Parliamentary Service Commission finances MPs’ official trips out of the country, or, alternatively, the Speaker is notified whenever Members are sponsored by other bodies in line with the Speaker’s Rules.

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In the case of the four, it is understood that the Speaker was not informed and therefore did not sanction the visit.

Foreign Affairs is reported to have funded Tetu MP Ndung’u Gethenji’s trip.

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Gethenji chairs the House Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations and his vice chair is Fafi’s Barre Shill.

Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire and Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja are understood to have been facilitated by the Devolution ministry.

Kanini Kega of Kieni constituency and other MPs also traveled without the Speaker’s permission to Scotland during the recent Commonwealth Games.

Speaker  Justin Muturi only approved travel by his Deputy, Joyce Laboso  of Sotik, James Nyikal of Seme, Jamleck Kamau of Kigumo and Kilifi County Women’s Rep Aisha Jumwa.

An MP said that the action amounted to impunity and there are  fears  that the executive may be compromising Parliament.

“I can tell you that they were not anywhere near the President’s function. They are just tourists and the responsible ministries should explain why they sponsored them,” he said.

Though the the MPs’ travelling without the Speaker’s approval attracts a mere caution on the floor of the House, it could be risky for them because their absence contributes to the maximum eight sittings a session an MP may fail to attend, without losing his or her seat.

This week alone, they have missed four sittings because of the US trip.

Yesterday Muturi said, “The said MPs will get a normal caution on the floor of the House, but they need to understand that it is good manners to have my approval.”

On Wednesday, the Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly, Aden Duale, was forced to withdraw proposed amendments to the Kenya Defence Force Act and the National Intelligence Act after Gethenji and his deputy were unavailable.

Duale had forwarded the amendments to the Defence committee for consideration after various stakeholders wrote to his office protesting that the proposed amendments were unconstitutional.

“The US trip was more important than the business of this House. By failing to bring a timely report on the two Bills, I have no otherwise but to withdraw them because of the constitutional issues raised by the stakeholders,” Duale said.



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