National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai has told the Immigration department to stop harassing MPs traveling outside the country whether on private or official business on account of lacking ‘required’ approvals.
In a letter addressed to the Director for Immigration Services, Major- General (Rtd) Gordon Kihalangwa and copied to National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and all the 349 MPs, Mr Sialai noted that the MPs are not required to produce travel clearance when going outside the country whether on private or official visit.
Mr Sialai however, clarified that only officers in parliament working under him will be required to get his authorisation before leaving the country.
“Our attention has been drawn to concerns by members of the National Assembly that in some instances, they have been asked to produce travel clearance at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while traveling outside the country,” Mr Sialai told Mr Kihalangwa in the letter dated September 27, 2017.
He continued; “This is therefore to request you to bring this information to the attention of the officers working in your office and in various border points and to advise them that no Member of Parliament should be required to produce any approval to travel outside the country.”
Mr Sialai’s letter comes against the backdrop of complaints from a section of MPs of having been blocked from traveling outside the country for lacking “the required authorisation” from statehouse.
Suba South MP Mr John Mbadi said trying to harass the MPs is wrong. “These things depict a clear indication of a regime that is so desperate to harass anybody. We will not accept this,” Mr Mbadi said yesterday.
On Thursday last week, one of the Nasa leaders, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka from traveling to Uganda for a graduation ceremony at Uganda Technology and Management University, where he is the chancellor.
Nasa leader Mr Raila Odinga would later claim that Mr Musyoka was told by the JKIA immigration officials that no Nasa leader will be allowed to travel outside the country without clearance from statehouse, a statement that was dismissed by the immigration department.
The stance taken by the National Assembly also applies to the Senate given that the two Houses perform similar but distinct roles.
Mr Sialai further reminded the immigration department that in performing its mandate, it must realize that the National Assembly is an independent organ of the State and that no member is therefore required by law or otherwise to get travel clearance whether on private of official visit abroad.
Other state organs include the executive headed by the president and the Judiciary under the Chief Justice.
Only the speakers of the Senate and the National Assembly may exercise their authority by preventing the MPs from leaving the country depending on the seriousness of the business before parliament.
However, the two speakers cannot arbitrarily block the MPs from traveling.
In the 11th parliament, speaker Muturi prevented the MPs from traveling abroad as the House rushed against time to enact constitutional bills ahead of their deadlines.
Few weeks ago, Head of Public Service Staff Mr Joseph Kinyua directed all Parastatal chiefs to get approval from the public service commission before leaving the country in a move that also affected the all public universities.
The university lecturers have also complained that Mr Kinyua’s order is affecting their research works, some of which have been fully paid for by donors and other bodies.