House committees on spot over IEBC, airport takeover

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi. Last week, the house was divided, forcing him to defer debates over the reports to this week so as to make a ruling. [File, Standard]
Members of Parliament ganging up against the removal of commissioners and the fight between two committees over airport takeover have put House teams on the spot for allegedly overstepping their mandate.

National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Investment Committee (PIC) have been accused of transgressing by making recommendations “outside” their oversight mandate.

The PAC has recommended removal of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya in a report that has sharply split the House, with a majority of MPs declaring their opposition to it.

At the same time, PIC has ordered Jomo Kenyatta International Airport takeover by KQ be stopped until it completes inquiry into the matter in its status report.

The order has put the committee in a collision path with some MPs, and Transport and Public Works Committee for allegedly jumping into the matter when use of public funds had not been raised by the Auditor General Edward Ouko.

Defer debates

On Thursday, the House was divided, forcing Speaker Justin Muturi to defer debates over the reports to this week so as to make a ruling.

The ruling could just trigger a debate about the work of various House committees given the emerging trend of reports either being rejected or watered down before being adopted.

Does it mean the committees do not understand their mandate or use their committees for political scores, or the MPs are so much conflicted they cannot adopt a report indicting senior State officers?

The watchdog committee chaired by Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) cited the tender conflicts at the commission as well as inflation and manipulation of procurement materials in the run up to 2017 General Elections as their reasons for recommending removal of the commissioners.

But Article 251 of the Constitution states that a commissioner can only be removed from office through a petition to the National Assembly on grounds of contravention of Chapter Six, physical or mental incapacity, incompetence and bankruptcy.

Majority Leader Aden Duale led the MPs in opposing the report, stating that the recommendations were against the provisions of the law thus passing them would be akin to removing the commissioners through the backdoor.

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Public Investment CommitteePublic Accounts CommitteeJKIA takeover