Like faithful trooping to a confession box ahead of service, honorable MPs marched in droves to see three of their colleagues ahead of Friday’s debate on the sugar report.
Ahead of the 2:30pm plenary sitting, and in near-stampede, they filed past journalists to the new wing of the Parliamentary Lounge where the trio “coordinated” the rejection of the report.
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In hot pursuit and to spoil the party was Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati and Nyeri County’s Rajab Mukami who stumbled on the ring-leader -- an MP from the Rift who recently ran afoul with journalists -- holding on to a mystery list.
Two of his colleagues -- a nominated MP and another now serving his third term -- held watch as members came in pairs and left. Those who left the nerve-centre rallied their clueless colleagues into dashing there to see the three men.
Others, all smiles, walked straight into the chamber to debate the controversial report. The activity went on unhindered until journalists confronted a Western Kenya MP who immediately and quite out of his norm brushed them aside.
“Wait I am coming back,” the excited MP said while walking away.
Some MPs who spoke to the Saturday Standard admitted that the 38-member committee co-chaired by Aden Haji (Mandera South) and Kanini Kega (Kieni) was divided on the report tabled in the House. Thus, they wanted it rejected.
“The chairs only have six members behind them. It is better this report is rejected and a new one drafted that has the support of everybody,” said a first term MP who sought anonymity.
“The money being dished out is to rally members to shoot down the report. The report shielded the companies and went for the Cabinet Secretaries (CSs) who declined to play ball. This is a fraud on the taxpayers to draft a diluted report.”
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Another MP revealed: “I am told the money is over. I have not got my share. They are complaining that journalists are here.”
At some point, the three MPs ceased their activities and relocated to the lounge behind the reception, which is out of bounds to media. Still, other members brandished some suspicious envelopes to a section of journalists.
Disgruntled MPs accused their colleagues of receiving millions in total to alter the report and getting additional money to shoot down the same. Godfrey Odanga (Matayos) bashed his colleagues for lowering the integrity of Parliament.
“Shame, how do you get Sh20,000 yet you earn a million? This is really bad,” lashed Odanga even as two other MPs rushed by him.
“What is wrong with us getting our share?” another fumed back.
“Shame, shame, this is bad,” shouted back Mukami.
Investigations by Saturday Standard have placed three interest groups at the heart of activities that took place in Parliament ahead of the debate. One group targeted the house leadership. It is not known to what extent they succeeded or failed
Another group went for the movers of the motion and those members who were drafting amendments. The final group targeted the plenary membership and occasioned the frenzy of activities that was evident in the corridors and the lobbies.
Stunned by the horrible tales of MPs throwing caution to the wind, Speaker Justin Muturi was last night invoking help of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to salvage a besieged house.
And from the sidelines of a declining opposition, NASA founder and co-principal Musalia Mudavadi demanded investigation on the whole kit and caboodle of Parliament for what he described as “abetting criminal negligence and corruption.”
In one of the earliest fruits of “handshake politics”, MPs on Friday closed ranks to shoot down a committee report that sought to send a strong message on sugar barons ravaging Kenyan’s economy and health.
From anxious groups walking in and out of a temporary “nerve-centre” where the rejection of the report was coordinated to the same groups walking back elated and pulling others back, it was a day laden with intrigue and shame.
“I was attending the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) meeting after which I went straight to the chamber. Members have raised the matter even here at our meeting in Mombasa,” Mutur,i who was attending a meeting in Mombasa, told the Saturday Standard.
He said he was not aware of any bribes dished out before or after the debate and asked for independent investigations to nail culprits, if any. But what Muturi held back, the ANC leader blurted it out.
He talked of shameful display of complicity, condemned the compromised membership, bemoaned the betrayal of Kenyan’s trust and regretted the emboldening of the sugar barons through the rejection of the report.
“Unfortunately, it is an indictment of Parliament that there are claims of bribery that influenced rejection of the report. The lasting imprint is that in reality, Committees of Parliament are instruments of sanitizing sleaze. It is the reason we urgently need an all-inclusive national dialogue to look at our governance structure,” Mudavadi said.
Majority Leader Aden Duale (Garissa Township) and Minority Leader John Mbadi (Suba South) led the onslaught in ensuring the report sank and arguing that there were no grounds to hold the CSs to account over the matter.
Later, angered MPs Justus Murunga (Matungu), Ayub Savula (Lugari), Arati, Oundo Mudenyo (Funyula), Bernard Shinali (Ikolomani), Tindi Mwale (Butere), Godfrey Osotsi (nominated) and James Onyango Koyoo (Muhoroni) castigated their colleagues and called on the Director Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji to step in.
“The members were compromised. What happened along the corridors of Parliament is a shame. I am not fearing anybody. It is sad that some people received as little as Sh10,000 to shoot down the report,” said Murunga.
Savula said “the rent seeking” witnessed even at the committee level when MPs became cozy with the witnesses” had killed the report. “Have we ever seen the Judge hugging the suspects?” he asked.
Koyoo said what happened in Parliament on Friday was anticipated from the very start when “lobbying was done with no iota of respect.”
For the first time in the life of the 12th parliament on Friday, the lounge and the bar were empty by 7pm on Friday. In total, Sh30 million is rumored to have played a role in the turn of events in Parliament on Friday.
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