September 21, 2020

MPs Propose Bill to Allow them Skip Parliament Sittings

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By Calvin Osiemo

Members of the August House this afternoon are expected to make changes to a bill seeking to make it harder to remove an MP from power should they miss parliamentary sessions as stated in the Kenya Constitution. The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No 5) Bill, 2015 aims at allowing a seating MP to miss eight consecutive sittings without permission from the Speaker of the National Assembly. In Article 103 of the Constitution, an MP is required to write to the speaker asking for permission but with the new bill being introduced in Parliament, the MPs want the clause changed allowing an MP to only notify the speaker of their absence from Parliament sessions.

The bill is sponsored by Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo arguing that the MPs also have other duties apart from parliament debates which they address and therefore can lead them to miss the sessions.

“The bill seeks to amend Article 103 of the Constitution so as to prevent the office of a Member of Parliament from becoming vacant for failure to attend eight sittings of the relevant House during any session of Parliament. The bill proposes to introduce the aspect of eight consecutive sittings meaning that a member who is absent for eight sequential sittings loses his/her seat. This is in recognition of the fact that the role of the National Assembly and the Senate includes representation, legislation and oversight. Further that these roles can be discharged either in the chamber, in committees or anywhere else in or out of the country,” reads the bill.

The new proposal comes as surprise after the MPs proposed allowance increments. The extravagance by the MPs has raised concern after it was alleged that some legislators demanded for weeekly mileage allowance despite not using their official vehicles. However, Makadara MP MP Benson Kangara has asked the speaker to suspend the mileage allowance as a result of misuse of the same.

“I have petitioned the speaker to have these claims scrapped. I will also seek to have external investigations into this so as to expose MPs who have been making fraudulent claims. Some claim up to Ksh. 700,000 per month. This is an abuse of privileges and we must have these claims suspended and integrity issues emerging dealt with forcefully” the MP said.

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