Kenyans risk being jailed for 12 months or paying Sh2 million for failing to refer to an MP as ‘Honorable’ when addressing him or her.
A proposed law seeking to bring order in addressing public officials in State functions prescribes tougher penalties for those who break the rule.
The same applies to those who fail to refer to the President as ‘Your Excellency, the Speaker as ‘The Right Honourable Speaker of Parliament’ and a judge of the Supreme Court ‘Your Lordship’.
The Order of Precedence Bill, 2014 prepared by Eldas MP Adan Keynan said the titles will promote the image of the country by instituting order in State functions.
“The principle purpose of this Bill is to promote the good image of the country, foster orderliness, discipline and decorum in the processes of governance,” the proposed law says in its memorandum of objects and reasons.
As the fight between MPs, and governors returns, the county bosses will now only be addressed as ‘The Governor’ whereas the Chief Justice is to be called ‘Your Lordship the Chief Justice’.
“It is further aimed at providing a yardstick for determining the proper position of all officers, their seniority and hierarchy for the purpose of state functions,” the Bill brought for its First Reading on Thursday, said.
The Bill also proposes a hierarchy for State officials according to seniority.
The ranking of the public officials will see MPs placed higher than governors, Supreme Court judges, former Presidents and Vice-Presidents.
Cabinet Secretaries, the Attorney General and Principal Secretaries are also placed lower than the lawmakers. President Uhuru Kenyatta is at the top, followed by his deputy William Ruto.
Next are the House Speakers Justin Muturi and Ekwee Ethuro, followed by the Chief Justice.
Fifth on the ranking are the Senate and National Assembly’s Leaders of Majority and Minority; MPs and Senators are in sixth place.
Governors are below the MPs and are ranked seventh followed by the Supreme Court judges.
Former Heads of State Mwai Kibaki and Daniel Moi are placed tenth, former VPs eleventh and ambassadors and High Commissioners twelfth.
The proposed law will be used to prepare how senior officers will seat in State functions and also to make programmes for the same.
“The order of precedence shall be used to develop seating charts, programmes and the order in which government officials deliver addresses at all State functions,” adds the proposed law.
This is the second time legislators are belittling the status of governors after denying them national flags.
State officials who give themselves different titles from the ones in the Bill will be fined Sh2 million or jailed for a year.
“Any other person other than a State or officer public officer who contravenes the provisions of this Act commits and offence and shall be liable to a fine not less than Sh1 million and not more than Sh2 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or both,” it says.