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Trouble at assembly as suspended ward reps protest their suspension

By Nathan Ochunge | May 31st 2020 | 3 min read
Members of the Kakamega County Assembly engaged in a fistfight over the tabling of a report by the Budget and Appropriations Committee. [Duncan Ocholla/Standard]

Trouble is brewing at the County Assembly of Kakamega following the suspension of six ward reps over claims they were ringleaders of the chaos that rocked the House recently.

This was during a sitting to discuss Governor Wycliffe Oparanya’s memo to the assembly when he returned the Supplementary Budget for reallocation of Sh145 million.

Mr Oparanya rejected the Supplementary Budget after Sh145 million was reallocated to other projects. MCAs disagreed over the matter, with some accusing the county boss of using the assembly as a rubber stamp to hide mistakes of the executive.

The sitting degenerated into a shouting match that saw Deputy Speaker Soita Kasaya hit by a bottle of water that was hurled by one of the MCAs.

On May 28 during a plenary session, the six ward reps were suspended for four sittings for disorderly behaviour.

Those suspended are Farouk Machanje (Isukha South), Joab Mwamuto (Shieywe), Walter Andati (Butsotso Central), Boniface Akosi (Shinoi-Shikomari-Esumeiya), Absalom Andati (Ingotse Matia) and Lynda Aseyo (nominated).

“The conduct of the suspended MCAs demeaned the assembly and was against the Standing Orders,” said Ricky Omwendo, the presiding Speaker, while suspending the MCAs.

The suspended ward reps will now lose sitting allowances totaling to Sh15,600 each. An MCA is entitled to Sh3,900 for every session he or she attends.

They have now petitioned the assembly’s Powers and Privileges Committee, seeking the lifting of their suspension. They say it is illegal and thus null and void.

Also enjoined in their petition is the assembly’s Speaker, Morris Buluma, as well as his Clerk, Laban Atemba. They have also written to the Senate and the County Assemblies Forum seeking interpretation of their suspension.

“We have been erroneously and selectively put on suspension for four sittings. The presiding speaker (Mr Omwendo) suspended five members who were not present in the plenary session at the time of communication,” reads part of their petition.

The petition further states: “Upon questioning by one Joab Mwamuto on the legality of the said communication, he too was suspended without any explanation. The suspension should therefore be lifted."

Andati argues that a member can be only be asked to withdraw from the House for the remainder of the day’s sitting as per Standing Order 103 (2), saying being put out in the cold for four sittings was unjustifiable.

He said the presiding Speaker was supposed to take disciplinary action against them on the floor of the House or through the House Business Committee, adding that he missed the opportunity and that his actions were null and void.

Machanje told the Sunday Standard that they have been suspended when the assembly was at the final stages of the budget making process. He termed the move as tactical to ensure when the 2020-21 budget is presented to the House for debate and approval, they won’t be part of it for fear of being told the truth.

Mwamuto on his part said they were waiting to be furnished with suspension letters, noting they were suspended by word of mouth.

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