Which way Kenya as Legislature at war with Judiciary and Executive over CDF billions

Parliament and Judiciary Buildings. [File, Standard]

The three arms of government are headed for a clash over the controversial constituency development kitty.

Yesterday, outraged MPs trained their guns on the Treasury over the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF), ahead of the inaugural sitting of the 13th Parliament next Thursday.

Promising a sustained onslaught against Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani, the legislators vowed to fight for the retention and disbursement of Sh44 billion to a fund they reiterated had been enjoyed by their predecessors since 2007.

This effectively opens all-out war of the three arms of government where President William Ruto is on the MPs side, Treasury CS Yattani and head of Judiciary Chief justice Martha Koome are on the opposing side.

A few days before he was sworn in, Ruto promised MPs that he would allow discussion over NG-CDF, saying it had served the country well. 

“Don’t worry at all, not because of any other reasons or some cause, but because CDF has really given us value for money in many areas,” Ruto told MPs at his residence in Karen, Nairobi.

Ruto also said was he open to discussions on the enhancement of the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) for Woman Reps given that the cash had an impact on the community.  

“We will be entertaining a discussion that NGAAF can be enhanced. We know that many Women Reps have been going through difficulties as they are judged by the same standards as other MPs,” he said.

While addressing senators earlier in the week in Naivasha through a recorded speech, Koome said the Supreme Court is of the view that it offends the division of functions between national and county governments to allow CDF, an instrumentality of the national government, to undertake functions devolved to the counties.  

Yesterday, the MPs vowed to exploit all avenues –including legal redressm- to gain access to the billions.

Irked by Yatani's Thursday declaration that he would not release the billions for the current financial year in light of the court decision that declared the fund illegal, they drew their battle line.

"The outgoing Treasury CS Yatani should know that there no two ways about this fund. We expect him to disburse these funds to the constituencies with immediate effect," said Nominated MP John Mbadi. 

Yatani argued the supreme Court ruled CDF is illegal and therefore "we are not going to disburse any cash but we have sought advice from the Attorney General."

Sabatia MP Clement Sloya was categorical that the legislators were not only dependent on the CDF funds for development in their constituencies but also for re-election into office based on their prudent administration of the kitty.

“The NG-CDF has been there and as a newly elected MP, I’m depending on it to impact my community and transform the lives of my constituents. The funds are a national duty and MPs should be allowed to access them," said Sloya. 

The legislator welcomed an amendment passed by the 12th Parliament that will now see the NG-CDF funds - if released - shared in accordance with a new formula; the 290 constituencies in Kenya will henceforth receive 75 per cent of the funds as an equitable share but the remaining 25 per cent will be shared out based on the number of wards in a constituency.

The funds will also be disbursed by a committee set up by the NG-CDF board in each constituency. “The people of Sabatia constituency will be affected positively should the new formula be effected,” added Sloya.

Some MPs claim Treasury was being “coerced” by unnamed entities to frustrate the new administration.

Ijaara MP Abdi Ali and his Mukurweini counterpart John Kaguchia cautioned Yatani against making any pronouncements because they will cause confusion.

Meanwhile, President Ruto is set to address the first joint parliamentary sitting on Thursday next week which will mark the opening of the 13th Parliament.

According to Article 132(1)(a) of the Constitution, the president is required to address the opening of each newly elected Parliament.

In a communication on Thursday, September 22, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula and his Senate counterpart Amason Kingi notified members and the public of the venue and time of the first sitting of Parliament.

The sitting comes amidst intensified jostling for committee leadership positions and the squabbling over who between the Azimio and Kenya Kwanza coalitions has majority numbers.