National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has attributed his impending censure in the House to a stinging communication he made to members cautioning them on their conduct in the committees.
Muturi said his criticism of the manner in which committees were conducting their oversight role, resulting to rising cases of corruption and bribery in several of them were the reasons he is being targeted for a censure.
On Thursday, the Speaker certified the censure notice of Motion filed by Kibwezi West MP Patrick Musimba and directed it be executed on Tuesday.
He will be forced to temporarily vacate his chair to allow members discuss his conduct, which Musimba has termed as contemptuous of House members.
The largely reserved Kibwezi MP, who the Speaker has in the past noted as being a passive member of the House, hardly contributing to debates on the floor of the House, accuses Muturi of degrading the character and ability of the “honourable members”.
The MP says the speaker makes contemptuous, malicious and unfounded allegations against them, and thus he has failed in his duty to protect the dignity, honour and integrity of Parliament. But speaking after approving debate of the motion,
Muturi said his strong communication, where he accused committee members of among other things, conducting themselves in a manner that opened their business to suspicion of corruption, had angered some members who had resorted to the censure motion.
“When I raised the issues of committees holding meetings in the absence of the clerks, as they at times ask clerks to leave the deliberation rooms when they are interrogating their subjects of probe, some people felt offended, I do not know why,” said Muturi.
He added: “When you do this, you make people to start speculating”. The speaker revealed that he had also condemned situations when committees turn their missions outside Parliament as picnics, only to return to Nairobi having not transacted the business that took them out of town, but having spent public funds, including allowances.
“There have been instances when committee members go out of town, say to Mombasa for report writing. Their flights are booked and accommodation, yet after the retreat clerks come back reporting that they did not transact their business as they did not raise a quorum. It can only mean they went out for picnics,” he said.
“This issue of me referring to these outings as picnics appears to have angered Musimba, but it is true, records speak for themselves,” he added. But the Speaker vowed not to bow to pressure from those targeting him, saying it was his duty to instill corrective measures to salvage the image of the National Assembly, badly tainted by allegations of corruption.
He said that after the Assembly’s leadership retreat held in Mombasa to among other things confront the “disturbing “ issue of “rent-seeking” in committees, the responsibility of ensuring measures are taken were placed on him, vowing not to relent on the fight.
“Unless any member is of such low morals, everyone must be worried of the negative image that this House is attracting. We may go down as the most corrupt Parliament,” he said.
House Majority Leader Aden Duale came to the defence of Muturi: “From our leadership retreat in Mombasa, we decided that we must restore the dignity of the house. We have seen what is happening in PAC and unless this scourge of corruption is arrested, the image of this House will be gone.
That is now what is being opposed by those coming up with the Motion.We will throw our support behind Muturi,” said Duale. Legislator Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja-ODM) emphasised that Dr Musimba is perfectly in order under the Standing Orders to bring the censure motion. “A lot has been talked about this matter for the last two years and it is important that it should now be put on record,” he argued.
He however stressed that he will preserve his personal views for Tuesday, during the debate. Moses Kuria (Gatundu South) faulted Musimba on the motion,saying it is a way to divert attention from the issues going on in Parliament, concerning alleged corruption in committees.
“If the MP has problems with the speaker, he has other avenues to use. Personally I am bothered with the conduct of MPs in the chamber, they behave like kindergarten children,” said Kuria.