Finance Bill fallout: Don't lecture us, Ford Kenya MP tells Ruto

 Kabuchai MP Majimbo Kalasinga. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

A Ford Kenya MP representing Speaker Moses Wetang’ula’s Kabuchai Constituency has asked President William Ruto to moderate his tone against those who don't support the controversial Finance Bill, 2023.

The second-term MP, Majimbo Kalasinga, who was speaking in the company of a host of Azimio-allied lawmakers in Bumula Constituency, regretted that the president had turned against his own lawmakers in an “undemocratic”  fashion.

“Let the President whom we love stop lecturing us on TV like small children because we refused to support the controversial Bill.

“Being in Kenya Kwanza does not mean I support every one of its proposals. I believe I have the liberty to make proper laws as a conscious lawmaker and on that line, I cannot pass a Bill that is going to overburden my people,” he said.

He singled out the housing levy and VAT increase on petroleum from 8 per cent to 16 per cent as bad elements in the Bill that must be dropped.

Majimbo was accompanied by Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna and his Vihiga counterpart Godfrey Osotsi who equally lamented about the growing executive arm-twisting of "hapless MPs".

The duo feared that the noble legislative duty was being usurped by forces outside Parliament to the detriment of wananchi who religiously think their MPs should be in charge.

“The other day, 22 senators including that for Bungoma (Wafula Wakoli) voted against the Division of Revenue Bill whose benefit was to increase the amount to counties to Sh407 billion from the current Sh385 billion. The senators, largely from Kenya Kwanza, were whipped to go against the will of voters and development in their own counties,” said Osotsi.

Sifuna, also the ODM secretary-general, vowed to deal with ODM MPs who voted for the controversial Bill last week as he termed those who skipped the session as "traitors".

He hinted that the "traitors" could have been promised foreign trips in exchange for their absentia in a larger scheme by outside forces to ensure the unpopular Bill sails through Parliament.

"Some of the MPs who absconded the vote, we gathered, had been out of the country on foreign trips and pocketed up to Sh1.2 million in exchange for skipping the crucial vote. How can an MP with the interest of his people at heart miss such a vote unless he's been compromised," posed Sifuna. 

Busia Senator Okoiti Omtatah, who also joined the leaders in launching a school feeding programme in the constituency, lauded the 81 MP who opposed the Bill, regretting that it (Bill) did not pass through the Senate yet it contained proposals that touched on counties.

He nonetheless took solace in the fact that he petitioned the High Court in Nairobi to challenge some of its controversial proposals.

The lawmaker, who previously spent most of his time outside Parliament taking on public interest cases, sensationally claimed that he was "day-in-day-out" being enticed with bribes to drop the case in favour of the State actors who were hell-bent on hurting the masses.

“People have been sent to bribe me to withdraw the case. Interestingly, the influential people, who carry loads of money with them, come from this county (Bungoma),” said Omtatah.

“I will not take whatever sum of money to betray the people, that is not in my genes,” he said.

His nominated counterpart Catherine Mumma challenged the people to take stock of MPs' behaviour during the debate on the Finance Bill as “a few MPs cannot vote against your will when you are the ones who put them in office.”

Migori Senator Edi Oketch said there were 1.5 million people in the Boda Boda sector who would bear the greatest brunt of increased petroleum prices due to the proposals in the Bill that would raise VAT on petroleum to 16 per cent.

The lawmakers, who were hosted by Bumula MP Jack Wamboka, vowed to continue opposing anti-mwananchi laws as they defend parliamentary integrity.