Millie Odhiambo faces disciplinary panel for ‘breaking’ three chairs and a table
| Aug 10th 2014 | 5 min read
Kenya: There is no doubt that she is a tough woman, straightforward and fearless. Cross her line and you will be sure to hear her stinging opinion. Those who don’t like her say she is stubborn. Critics dismiss her as an activist masquerading as a leader.
But the fact is that when Millie Odhiambo-Mabona wants to say something, she will say it! In her words, she “blows up”. And that, got her into trouble.
Last Tuesday, the vocal Opposition MP from Mbita was the subject of discussion at a powerful disciplinary committee meeting in the first floor of the main Parliament Buildings.
The men and women of the Powers and Privileges Committee were to meet in the Speaker’s Boardroom to discuss sanctions against her, making her the first MP summoned by the disciplinary panel in the 11th Parliament.
The preliminary charges, according to National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, is that Mabona “broke three chairs and a table”.
The Speaker also accused her of “menacingly pointing at the Deputy Speaker” as she stormed out of the National Assembly. The Speaker says the offence happened on Thursday, July 24.
If you review the clip and look at the parliamentary records, it is clear that it was a charged atmosphere. Majority Leader Adan Duale lit the political fires in the august House with a claim the Opposition was “speaking the same language as al-Shabaab”.
Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo was not amused. When Mabona got her chance to speak, she asked for “respect, equality and dignity”.
She says the leadership of the House – Speaker Muturi, his deputy Joyce Laboso and some members of the Speaker’s Panel - is biased.
The Standard on Sunday caught up with her and she said she was not amused that she was being prosecuted without even being given a chance to give her side of the story.
In the ruling inviting the disciplinary team to sit, Muturi had said he expected Mabona to show remorse or even give an explanation, but had received none.
“I am purportedly being disciplined for breaking three chairs and a table. The Speaker who was not presiding has not asked my side of the story but in a volatile and hostile political situation listens to one side. That is why he expected an apology without verifying facts,” said Mabona.
For Mabona, the disciplinary committee is part of a witch-hunt against vocal Opposition politicians. “I was told by a speaker at a social event that they have been told to deal with people like me. I guess this is the script,” the Mbita MP said.
But this is not the first time Mabona has been kicked out of the House. On July 17, she was kicked out of the House, simply because, she shouted from her seat when Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire blamed CORD leader Raila Odinga for the killing of over 60 people in Mpeketoni.
Mabona, just like other CORD MPs, shouted Mbarire down, but she was chosen to serve as an example.
That day, Muturi shouted at her to leave. She shouted back “with pleasure”. Then she began to walk towards the door. But the Speaker was not taking the majestic walk lying down. He instructed the Sergeant-at-arms to throw her out.
“You have no business shouting from where you are sitting. Out for the rest of the day! Get out! Millie Odhiambo, get out! Can you throw her out? Get her out of here! Get her out! Millie Odhiambo, get out! You are withdrawn from the services of this House for the next three days! Throw her out! What are these ones doing? Get her out...! You will not be given any services in this House and the precincts of this House for the next three days! That is the order”.
When she recalls that day she was kicked out of the House ‘like a dog’, she knows she is a marked MP. But she doesn’t think there is anything new that can cow her. “I have been threatened with not just suspension but also with the unconstitutional declaration of a vacancy for my seat. I am ready for all. I respect the office of the Speaker. I demand equal respect. I demand to be treated with dignity and respect. I demand to be treated equally.
“(The Deputy Speaker) Laboso pronounced Duale out of order. He refused to withdraw his statements and apologise. What was done to him? Nothing! I am willing to face any punishment but I cannot be subject to tyranny,” she says.
She believes in what she does. She looked at her former friend Rachel Shebesh (Nairobi), who sits in the Speaker’s Panel, and told her that the bias against CORD was huge.
Mabona has been waiting for a kamukunji (an informal gathering of the Speaker and all MPs) to raise the issue, but that has not materialised.
“The leadership of this House mistreats CORD. This matter is going to blow up. You always chase members from one side of the House. I am not talking of you as the presiding officer now. I am talking about the leadership of this House. Please, note that we were elected in the same way as TNA and URP members. We cannot be chased away from the House all the time,” she told Ms Shebesh, who was presiding.
The Committee on Privileges met on Tuesday and on Wednesday this week. The Speaker Justin Muturi, who is the de jure chairperson, stepped down from the helm of the team, so as to side-step any allegations of bias.
“The Speaker had already made a ruling in the House, he therefore recused himself, so as not to be blamed of bias,” said a person familiar with the details of the closed-door meetings.
The 10-member team is now chaired by Ganze MP Peter Safari Shehe, a member of the Federal Party of Kenya. The team agreed to call Ms Mabona to give her side of the story, and to also call witnesses to the accusations facing her.
Muturi confirmed that Shehe was the new chairperson. He said the 11-member committee wanted to conduct a “just and fair hearing”. “We will sit and do everything as required by the law and procedures of the House,” the Speaker told The Standard on Sunday for this story.
Other members of the committee are Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu), Joyce Emanikor (Turkana), Jamleck Kamau (Kigumo), Barchelei Kipruto (Soy), James Murgor (Keiyo North), Bedzimba Rashid (Kisauni), Simon Ogari (Bomachoge Chache), Sulekha Juma Hassan (nominated) and James Onyango K’Oyoo (Muhoroni).
Mabona is in South Africa for the Pan Africa Parliament sittings. She represents Kenya in the African Parliament. If found guilty, the punishment could be a reprimand or simply a suspension from the House for up to 21 days.
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