Namwamba led PAC team disbanded

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Ababu+1203+pThe Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly has been disbanded and the heads of the majority and the minority parties given seven days to select new members.

This comes after the House agreed with the Powers and Privileges Committee and adopted its report of investigations into the affairs of one of the House’s most important oversight committees.

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The PAC becomes the first committee to be disbanded in the 11th Parliament, with the saga around it marking the height of allegations that MPs have been using their positions to extort money.

APOLOGISE

The MPs sanctioned a raft of punitive measures against five members of the now defunct team. They will be required to apologise to the rest of the House and would be barred from sittings until they do.

Barred from the new PAC are five members of the old one: former chairman Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i, ODM), Ahmed Abass (Ijara, ODM), James Bett (Kesses, URP), Omondi Anyanga (Nyatike, ODM) and Cecily Mbarire (Runyenjes, ODM).

The five “made allegations against others, and failed to substantiate their allegations within the period specified under Standing Order 91 (next sitting day).”

Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso said the five would be expected to make their apologies to the rest of the House at the sitting that starts on Wednesday morning.

“None of the members who have been named will be allowed to sit in the House until they tender their apologies,” Dr Laboso ruled.

She said Mr Namwamba would also be required to explain to the House “what game was going on by giving a letter to the Speaker and then withdrawing it.”

This was a reference to Mr Namwamba’s letter to the Speaker requesting to be away from House and committee sittings. The letter was taken to the Speaker’s office but then withdrawn irregularly.

Before the House adopted the report, members of the PAC rallied to criticise the committee chaired by Kuresoi North MP Moses Cheboi. They also resumed their arguments and traded accusations once more before Dr Laboso stepped in to stop them.

MORE TROUBLE

Suba MP John Mbadi accused Kesses MP James Bett of having started the fight in the committee and then bringing it to the House while debating the report.

Mr Bett got himself into more trouble with his colleagues when he alleged that Mr Cheboi had talked about his political affiliations while discussing the report outside the House with him.

“He said he wanted to make an example out of this committee. How can you make an example out of a committee? I take great exception to that. He told me he is not in URP, that he is in Kanu,” said Mr Bett before he was forced to withdraw those statements and apologise to the House.

Only Mr Anyanga agreed with the Privileges Committee, saying PAC “must be dissolved like yesterday”.

“We cannot be in a committee where MPs accuse each other of corruption. Personally, if you connect me to corruption, I can even hang myself because that is not me,” he said.

Ms Mbarire was angry at the Privileges Committee.

“I withdrew the allegation and it is minuted. Why again I’m I being asked to apologise to the House and to be barred from the new committee?” said Ms Mbarire, who accused Mr Cheboi and his colleagues of double standards.

In his response, Mr Cheboi said that it was considered improper that Ms Mbarire made a serious allegation and then withdrew it within minutes.

“It’s like (hitting) someone and then saying, ‘I am sorry,” he said.

EXPERIENCE

Mr Cheboi said from his experience in Parliament, MPs would in the past be asked to restrain themselves from making accusations against people outside the House.

In the present case, he said, he was shocked that it was MPs trading accusations in the public and in their internal committee meetings.

“It had never happened in the Parliaments I have known. It is a new one – that members can throw allegations against each other. It is new here,” said Mr Cheboi.

Daniel Maanzo (Makueni, Wiper) presented documents to the House proving that there is an ongoing case in court in a bid to stop the National Assembly from discussing the report.

He argued that because a date had been set for the hearing of the case filed by two individuals, the House must wait until after the decision is made on whether the matter could be determined by the House.

Dr Laboso, however, rejected that argument.

She ruled that “it is not evident whether the orders sought in the suit had been granted” and that it was a matter of the House debating an internal matter.

“I am unable to find that continuing debate on this matter would prejudice any court worth its salt,” said Dr Laboso.

-nation.co.ke

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