In Summary
  • The two Houses have also been on the spot to explain why they paid for some staff who virtually had no role at the conference.
  • Speakers of Parliament are paid about Sh75,000 as daily subsistence allowance for travel to the US, MPs pocket Sh65,000, and MCAs Sh42,600.

Barely days after MPs united to dispute a report by the Daily Nation of Kenya sending a huge delegation to the US to attend a conference, fresh details have emerged that the previous figure of 85 delegates was understated.

Five more leaders travelled to the US for the legislative conference, whose agenda included sampling country music and getting inspirational talks from songstress Dolly Parton, bringing the total number of MPs, senators, ward representatives and Parliament’s staff to 90.

Sources say the figure is actually higher, as some of those who travelled did not register for the conference.

The Saturday Nation learnt that senators Agnes Zani (ODM, nominated), Fredrick Outa (Kisumu), Meru Speaker Joseph Kaberia and MCAs Ayub Bundi and Victor Karithi were listed as additional participants from Kenya by the organisers.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga was the first to castigate the wastage of taxpayers money, lambasting the legislators for perpetuating a “culture of waste and living large at the expense of taxpayers”.

OVERREPRESENTED

Speaking at the Media Council gala night last evening, Mr Odinga said that Kenya sent a delegation of 90 people to the US conference, adding that it was a shame to send such a huge delegation at the taxpayers’ cost.

He demanded that Parliament apologises to Kenyans for spending taxpayers’ money on such a trip, noting that the US was only represented by six delegates, Nigeria 20, Brazil 9 and Japan 6.

He revealed that he had his own sources at the conference who leaked to him the information on the Kenyan delegation.

Kenya provided the largest number of participants at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in Nashville, Tennessee, at a time when President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration is proposing cuts on foreign travel as part of a wide range of austerity measures.

The only other country that sent a large delegation is Nigeria, which flew 20 legislators to the US before adding two more.

Many other countries sent one to six delegates. They include Indonesia (one), Portugal (two) and Japan (six).

FUNDS MISUSE

Neighbouring Uganda deployed three, Mr James Mukaga (principal clerk assistant), Ms Jane Rozse Semakula Ikiror (assistant director, Parliament) and Sitnah Cherotich (assistant director, Parliament).

Wealthy and world-super power, the US, which hosted the conference, had nine key representatives.

Reliable reports indicate the Kenyan representatives at the conference that officially started on Monday and ended on Thursday could be more than 100, as some hangers-on who accompanied the VIPs were not listed in the official conference list.

In spite of National Assembly Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi promising to issue a communication on an apology, the MPs demanded the House breaks for recess on Thursday with no mention of the trip.

Questions were on Friday raised why Parliament had not provided its official list of representatives to the summit to collaborate that issued by the conference organisers and clear any grey areas.

The two Houses, the Senate and National Assembly, have also been on the spot to explain why they paid for some staff who virtually had no role at the conference, to attend at the expense of taxpayers.

DELEGATES' LIST

The Saturday Nation learnt that part of the House leadership informally met on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to deliberate on how to handle the matter that has exposed the greed and scandalous spending of our leaders.

While a few of the Kenyan delegates were invited to the conference from as early as April for being in the technical and steering committee, including senators Kihika Kimani and Mutula Kilonzo Jr, most of the members of the delegation were joyriders.

Apart from legislators from the bicameral Parliament, the others who flew to the US were clerks, staff and people whose duties were unclear as they were listed in non-existent posts like County Assembly of Kenya.

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