In Summary
  • The Constitution and the standing orders provide that at least 50 members must be present in the chamber for any parliamentary business to proceed.
  • Not even a quorum bell that went on for 15 minutes to alert the members would raise the required numbers.
  • Interestingly, the few who were in the debating chamber would be seen leaving as they retreated to the parliament lounge to take tea.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has disputed claims by members of Parliament that they were not given enough time to prepare to discuss President Uhuru Kenyatta’s proposal to repeal the law capping interest rates.

At the time the matter was considered on Tuesday, only 161 of the 349 MPs were in the House. At least 233 were needed to veto the President’s proposal.

Although the MPs came out to play claim that they were not given enough time to plan, it has now emerged that 270 of them were in the chamber, according to the House biometric register and the login system.

“With regard to the number of members who attended yesterday’s sitting, I can confirm that the biometric register and the electronic login system indicates that not less than 270 were present at that sitting, coming in at different times,” the Speaker said.

“The House is, accordingly, guided and the general public should know the truth,” Mr Muturi added.

PUBLIC OUTCRY

This means that despite the matter having been listed on the House’s Order paper that shows a list of the business to be transacted, the legislators did not bother to participate, despite public outcry.

Interestingly, some of the MPs who were present in the chamber but left immediately the matter was raised for consideration, appeared on talk shows on local TV and radio stations to claim that they should not be blamed for the return of expensive loans because they were caught off guard.

“Some of those appearing on TV were not even in the chamber. You were not elected to appear on TV. If you think that you make laws on TV, you have only yourself to blame,” the Speaker said.

INSUFFICIENT NOTICE

He said the MPs have no excuse since both the print and electronic media had on many occasions carried notices that the matter would be coming up for consideration “by this House on Tuesday, November 5, 2019.”

“I, therefore, find it absolutely inaccurate for a member of this House, or even the public, to claim that there was insufficient notice regarding the sitting in which the House would consider the President’s reservations,” the Speaker said.

Before proceeding to take the vote, Mr Muturi also ordered that a division bell be rung for 10 minutes so that members who might have stepped out of the House could return and participate in deciding the matter.