Call them mheshimiwa! at your own peril
NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 18 – Ordinary Kenyans risk being jailed for 12 months or pay a Sh2 million fine for referring to themselves as ‘Honourable’ or ‘Mheshimiwa’.
This is after Members of the National Assembly passed the Order of Precedence Bill which seeks to bring order in addressing public officials at State functions by prescribing tougher penalties for those who break the rule.
MPs Robert Pukose (Endebess), Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini) and Reginalda Wanyonyi (Bungoma County Woman Rep) said the move will stop Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) from using the title which is now solely conferred to MPs.
“If you call yourself Honourable and you are not a Member of Parliament you will be fined Sh1 million as a minimum so let them hear and know this Mr Speaker… henceforth they should know they are MCAs, Members of the County Assembly,” Wamalwa stated.
Pukose added: “The only disappointment is we have not been able to sort out the mess about the MCAs because in the counties everyone is referred to as Honourable Member.”
“Mr Speaker, if you go down to the counties even the County Executive Committee members are calling themselves Honourable, ” Wanyonyi said while contributing to the debate.
The same penalty applies to those who use Excellency which is now reserved for the President, his deputy, thei spouses and former holders of those offices.
The Bill which was prepared by Eldas MP Adan Keynan states that the County Governor will now be referred by the title The Governor as opposed to the current practice where they took the title ‘Excellency, The Governor’.
At the same time, Cabinet Secretaries, the Attorney General and County Governors will not be allowed to use sirens on their motorcades if the Order of Precedence is signed into law.
MPs unanimously passed the bill which seeks to create order in the handling protocol matters following the establishment of the county government.
“We have so many people driving around with sirens, which you would not know if it’s an ambulance, a police car or fire engine responding to an emergency,” Endebess MP Robert Pukose said.
This comes almost a month after Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery issued a directive banning illegal use of sirens and strobe lights.
Nkaissery directed police to impound all vehicles illegally using sirens and strobe lights including those of Cabinet Secretaries, top government officers, cars used by private security firms and funeral hearses.
The Bill proposes a a fine of not more than Sh2 million or to imprisonment for a term not less than twelve months.
This is the second time the legislators are going after the Cabinet; in June last year MPs were forced to beat a retreat after the President refused to assent to the National Flags, Emblems and Names Bill, 2014 until they House included the CSs from the list of State officers who could fly the flag.
The MPs however voted to allow Former President Mwai Kibaki and Daniel arap Moi and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to retain sirens on their motorcades and processions.