Wetang'ula fires back at Raila over housing levy court battle

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula has responded to Azimio leader Raila Odinga’s harsh criticism over his involvement in a court case challenging the Finance Act, 2023.

Odinga, who spoke at Kamukunji grounds on Sunday, accused Wetang’ula of being under the influence of the State, claiming that he frequently visited State House for the approval of numerous bills into law. 

He also questioned his authority to file a petition at the Supreme Court contesting the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the controversial housing levy, which was first passed in Parliament under his supervision.

Odinga argued that Wetang’ula should have consulted MPs before going to court and that his decision disqualified him from being the Speaker.

“Mr. Wetangula himself went to court; this law came from Parliament, it went to Ruto who signed it, the court said the law is invalid. The Speaker has no power to go to court again. Wetang’ula is not fit to be the speaker of the Parliament of Kenya. If you are a speaker, once you pass a law, your work is done,” said Odinga. 

In a rebuttal on Tuesday, February 6, Wetang’ula said that he respected Odinga, but he was disappointed by his statement that showed ignorance of the law. 

He said that the unfounded remarks were meant to misinform the public and undermine their confidence in Parliament, which was regrettable, especially coming from a former MP.

The Speaker further explained that he was not in court on his own behalf, but as the presiding officer of the National Assembly on any matter filed by or against the National Assembly relating to its legislative functions as stipulated under Article 95 of the Constitution.

“It is clear that the advisers of the former Prime Minister [Raila Odinga] need to revisit the Constitution and refresh their minds on the role of the Speaker of the National Assembly in legal proceedings by or against the National Assembly regarding its legislative authority and legislative processes and advise him accordingly” Wetangula said.

He added that the National Assembly was dissatisfied with the portions of the judgement of the High Court and exercised its constitutional right of appeal to the Court of Appeal and recently to the Supreme Court. 

Last month, Wetangula filed a Notice of Appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the Appeal Court’s decision that declined to extend order allowing Housing Levy deductions.

The Appeal by the Attorney General arose from a judgment delivered by three Judges Justice David Majanja, Christine Meoli and Lawrence Mugambi who declared the Finance Act 2023 as unconstitutional.