Rongo MP Dalmas Otieno, ODM nominated MP Oburu Oginga, former president Daniel Moiâ€™s son Raymond and former cabinet minister Henry Kosgeyâ€™s son Alex Kimutai Kosgey are among the Members of the National Assembly who risk losing their seats for absenteeism. Also on the list is Rongo Member of Parliament and former long serving Minister, Dalmas Otieno.
Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi, in an exclusive interview with The People revealed yesterday that former Rongai constituency MP, Luka Kigen had petitioned the National Assembly over Moi the man who beat him in the last election.
Muturi said the bio-metric devices introduced recently in the House has helped to track the members attendance. â€œIt is the high time that the members understood that truancy can lead to one losing his or her seat,â€ Muturi said.
Under the old system, members would craftily cheat their way by using Parliamentary orderlies to sign for them the attendance list. â€œIt is a different ball game now where the Speaker gets the daily roaster of the attending members.
It is the Speakerâ€™s hands and one cannot run away,â€ Muturi added. Kosgey, who represents Emgwen constituency leads the list of lawmakers who have missed sittings with an accumulative sum of 68 sittings.
Kigen, Muturi said, is supported by Article 35 in the Bill of Rights, which says that every citizen has the right to access to information held by the state or any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom.
Muturi, however, explained that unlike in the old Constitution where a member could lose his or her seat after missing eight consecutive sittings, under the new dispensation, Article 103, which says, that:
- Â the office of a member of Parliament becomes vacantâ€“
(a) if the member dies;
(b) if, during any session of Parliament, the member is absent from eight sittings of the relevant House without permission, in writing, from the Speaker, and is unable to offer a satisfactory explanation for the absence to the relevant committee;
(c) if the member is otherwise removed from office under this Constitution or legislation enacted under Article 80;
(d) if the member resigns from Parliament in writing to the Speaker;
(e) if, having been elected to Parliamentâ€“
- Â Â (i) as a member of a political party, the member resigns from that party or is deemed to have resigned from the party as determined in accordance with the legislation contemplated in clause (2); or
- (ii) as an independent candidate, the member joins a political party;
(f) at the end of the term of the relevant House; or
(g) if the member becomes disqualified for election to Parliament under Article 99 (2) (d) to (h).
A member seeking to be absent must inform the Speaker by writing the intention of being away from parliament. None of the named members have informed the Speaker of the reasons behind their absenteeism. Besides, the lawmaker can inform the Powers and Privileges Committee, which is chaired by the Speaker himself.
â€œThe rules are clear, even my deputy who is an elected member of Parliament must inform the Speaker in writing her intention to travel or to be away even if itâ€™s the Speaker who has authorised the trip,â€ Muturi explained. Records show that Kosgey is yet to make his maiden speech and is rarely in the House. He has made a few technical appearances for the period he has served the people of Emgwen. Kosgey is the last born son of former chairman of ODM, Henry Kosgey, who also served in various cabinet dockets during the Moi and Kibaki regimes.
Moi has attended a few sittings but barely contributes. He also attends Lands Committee sittings, of which he is a member. Raymond is the second-born son of retired President Moi and is a first time legislator.
Dalmas used to be active prior to his appointment to mediate in the South Sudan crisis in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Oburu, on his part has been an active member of the Public Investment Committee but rarely attends sittings in the National Assembly.
While launching the new biometric technology, Muturi said the devices will capture, expose and punish truants. Muturi acknowledged the extent of the problem, saying he was aware some MPs have been absent from the House without his permission. â€œSome legislators are always absent but the Speaker is not informed yet the law requires written permission.
â€œWe will simply implement the law as the biometrics will help us crack down on the violators,â€ Muturi toldThe People. In the past, MPs would lose their seats if found to have missed six successive sittings without the permission of the Speaker, but the word â€œconsecutiveâ€ was deleted in the new regulations.
This means that missing just eight sittings over a period of time puts one on the threshold of removal. Technical appearances, the new technology has made it easy to track the number of sittings MPs attend in a given period.
By ANTHONY MWANGI @wairindimwangi