The newly elected MPs have joined forces to try to explore ways in which they can salvage the National Government-Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF), it has emerged.
The Standard has learnt that a meeting of all MPs-elect is being planned to discuss the Supreme Court verdict that declared the fund unconstitutional, inflicting a major pain to MPs who find themselves with no kitty to fund development projects, which also include bursaries.
Even before they are sworn in, the new elected MPs are already reaching out to each other regardless of their affiliation to salvage the situation.
some like those from the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) discussed the issue during their familiarisation meeting held on Wednesday.
“There is no parliament without CDF,” said Aden Duale, who is the Garissa Township MP, who will be serving his fourth term.
Duale revealed discussions are going on which mainly involve what is to be done to salvage a fund that they believe it is the best thing that ever happened to Kenyan Parliament.
Kandara MP Alice Wahome said the 13th Parliament will have no option but defend the fund pointing out that as legislators, they have suffered the same situation in the past but have never failed to protect the kitty.
“NG-CDF is a public entity with resources meant for the taxpayers which the parliamentarians have to protect,” said Kandara MP, who will be serving her third term.
One of the strategies being considered is for a round-table meeting between Parliament and the Executive to discuss how the fund can be ring fenced and allowed to operate.
The push to salvage the fund has preoccupied newly-elected MPs and taken precedence over any preparations ahead of the inauguration of the 13th Parliament.
However, the meeting will only happen after they have taken their oath of office and officially assumed their roles.
IEBC is under the law supposed to publish a notice in the Kenya Gazette confirming all the MPs elected during the exercise.
After the notice, the President will decide when to summon the first sitting of the 13th Parliament which must be within 30 days after the date of General Election, August 9.
Before 13th Parliament is summoned, Acting Clerk of the National Assembly Serah Kioko has summoned the leaders for orientation sessions slated for Thursday and Fridays next week.
The sessions shall include registration of the members, collection of biodata information, issuance parliamentary identification cards, training on the use of chamber voting system, a tour of parliament buildings and briefing by the office of the clerk on essential legislative matters.
During the sessions, the MPs-elect will also be briefed on the services and facilities available to them and they will be facilitated to register for, among others, medical insurance and other related facilities and benefits.
“All MPs-elect including those who have been reelected are encouraged to attend the orientations,” said Kioko in a message that was sent out to all the MPs.
Kieni MP-elect Wainaina Njoroge describes NG-CDF as an important kitty and promised that it will be the first agenda he will seek to address.
“It is a very important fund because it focuses on projects that touch directly on the people; projects that neither the national nor county governments can effectively implement,” said the MP, adding that the legislators will need the fund to ensure they have a direct impact on the people.
“I am hoping that we are going to find a way to avoid a situation where we lose the fund because it is very crucial to the people at the constituency level,” explained the MP-elect.
Mathira MP-elect Eric Wamumbi extolled the virtues of the fund pointing out that it had transformed the education infrastructure in the constituencies.
“The work carried out in improving schools using the NG-CDF is very impactful and on this premise alone, I believe that we need this fund to continue to support our people and communities,” he said.
Wamumbi said that while the court had said the law may not have been well guided, the MPs would likely work towardsBamending the CDF Act so that it aligns with the Constitution was the case in 2015.
“In my understanding, we as MPs do not implement the projects funded by NG-CDF, we are patrons of the fund, and, therefore, we can still oversight it,” he said.
He observed that they would look at the ways they would ensure a law is in place to save the fund from being scrapped.
“As we speak, currently we have 540 children who are fully sponsored by the NG- CDF under the tenure of (Rigathi) Gachagua, and if we lose the fund, these children will be left without support and I cannot allow that to happen,” he said.
The Mathira MP-elect observed there is no assurance of fair distribution of resources through the national and county governments and, therefore, scrapping NG-CDF would marginalise many constituencies across the country.
“We need resources closer to the people, therefore, let us consider saving NG-CDF so that we can take resources to the people,” WaMumbi said.
Othaya MP-elect Michael Wambugu Wainaina also said that it will be difficult for the new MPs to deliver development without the CDF.
“I don’t know what we shall do without it but whichever way we shall have to lobby and legislate that it is restored. This is a very important kitty for MPs which gives them the bite to implement projects dear to their people,” he added.
But as MPs prepare to mount a challenge on the nullification of the fund, legal landmines abound that do not make support their enthusiasm or determination.
In proscribing the fund, both the High Court and Supreme Court cited the doctrine of separation of powers, saying MPs cannot implement projects and programmes and also play its oversight role as detailed in the constitution.
Legal experts argue that this reason is anchored on a solid ground and attempts by MPs to get round the question of separation of powers is a hard task that should be better avoided.
[Report by Ibrahim Oruko, Lydiah Nyawira and Boniface Gikandi]