Crisis as Parliament adjourns indefinitely
Parliament was yesterday thrown into a crisis after members of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) teamed up with their ANC and Ford Kenya colleagues to shoot down a motion seeking to approve members of the House Business Committee (HBC).
Speaker Justin Muturi adjourned the House, which had reconvened yesterday after the long December recess, indefinitely after majority of members voted against the list of names to sit in the committee which is charged with formulating the business of the House.
The implication is that the National Assembly cannot transact any business in the next six months. It is the first time that Parliament is finding itself in such a crisis.
HBC sets the agenda of Parliament including prioritising the motions in order of their precedence. It is chaired by the Speaker and comprises among others, the leaders of the two sides and the Whips and seven other members nominated by parliamentary parties.
The consequences of the MPs’ actions include stalling this year’s budget, the Budget Policy Statement, which was to be tabled in the first week after resumption, the Finance Bill, the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, Huduma Bill, Election laws, Regulation of Political Parties, and the Petroleum Products Bill among others.
The motion, which was moved by Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya, sought to approve the appointment of members Joyce Emanikor, Shadrack Mose, Kawira Mwangaza, Mohamed Abdikhaim Osman, Makali Mulu, Mishi Mboko and Godfrey Osotsi.
After the motion was moved and seconded by the Deputy Leader of Minority Robert Mbui, who was standing in for the suspended Leader of Minority John Mbadi, the Speaker called for a vote and in acclamation the Nays carried the day.
Attempts by the prohandshake MPs led by Millie Odhiambo (Suba North) were dismissed as only less than 20 MPs stood to force a division.
Standing Orders require at least 50 members for the Speaker to call for a division (or a vote).
After the vote, Muturi told members that he had no option but to adjourn the House.
“My hands are tied, it is your decision, the only option you have is for the Leader of Majority and that of the Minority to meet and come up with the way forward.”
“As it stands now, the House cannot sit since it has no business to transact. You will have to wait for six months before a similar motion is brought. It’s your rules not mine,” Muturi told the members.
“Business has to be processed by the HBC, and hence without one, we cannot do anything. The motion cannot be moved in the next six months,” Muturi told the MPs.
He warned that given the circumstances, the House stands dissolved as six months lapse in June this year when the House should be sent home.
“You have done what Chebukati (IEBC chairman) should have done by issuing the notice for dissolution. You have resolved the matter for him,” he told the lawmakers.
After the adjournment, UDA and its allies from ANC and Ford Kenya went into celebrations singing, “This is the earthquake” in reference to the much publicised slogan by ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi.
But speaking to People Daily after the drama, Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Muturi Kigano said the Leader of Majority would move a special motion under Standing Order 49 to have the names approved.
Special motion Standing Order number 49 reads; “No motion may be moved which is the same in substance as any question which has been resolved (either in the affirmative or in the negative) during the preceding six months in the same Session.”
“(2) Despite paragraph (1)— (a) a Motion to rescind the decision on such a question may be moved with the permission of the Speaker.”
“I do not see it as a crisis, the Leader of Majority is at liberty to move a special motion to have the names approved,” he said.
But this might take more time than anticipated because the names which were rejected cannot be moved again, meaning that the two leaders must go back to the drawing board and come up with a fresh list.
Sirisia MP John Waluke said the UDA team agreed to shoot down the motion during their parliamentary group on Monday. Saboti MP Caleb Amisi, however, criticised his UDA colleagues for politicising parliamentary business saying by doing so, they were not punishing the minority side but Kenyans.