Legislators skip House sittings to campaign

Most MPs have given parliamentary sittings a wide berth and have, instead, camped in their constituencies to campaign.

Analysts say this could be because a majority of the MPs were stung by the political reality on the ground following the recent party nominations. 

Parliament resumed its sittings on May 9 and raising a quorum for House business has been an uphill task.

On most occasions, the quorum bell has to be rung for up to 20 minutes to raise the numbers.

The second part of the fifth session started on May 9 and runs until June 15, before the dissolution recess until a day before the elections.

REACHING TARGET

The House Standing Orders require Parliament to have 50 MPs in the chamber before the commencement of any business, but reaching this target has been a tall order.

Interviews with some of the legislators showed that MPs are already in the campaign mood and have resorted to being with the voters on the ground.

Most lawmakers believe spending time in Parliament will give their opponents the upper hand.

READ: Quorum hitch hits Parliament

Although the MPs have managed to pass key Bills such as the Finance Bill, the debate on the nominees to the East African Legislative Assembly has remained a major tussle, with the two coalitions in the House accusing one another of deliberately creating a quorum hitch to scuttle the process. 

FINAL RECESS

The legislators also failed to pass the two-thirds gender rule, even as the House goes for the final recess.

They are, however, guaranteed of their salaries up to August 7, the day before the General Election.

This means taxpayers will pay the 416 members of the National Assembly and the Senate a minimum of Sh456.1 million, as they campaign for re-election or for other positions.

In the past, Parliament was dissolved 60 days ahead of the polls but the 2010 Constitution says Parliament’s term runs to the day of the next election.

Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati said the mood has changed and now the focus is on the General Election.

LACK OF INTEREST

Mr Arati attributed the quorum problem to lack of interest, especially from those who lost in the party nominations.

“What do you, for instance, expect a person who lost in the nominations to do in Parliament and he knows very well that he will not make it back?” he asked.

READ: House business suffers as MPs seek votes

He went on: “This was expected, especially after nominations, but when it comes to debate on key Bills people come to the House.”

Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja described the situation as unfortunate, saying a majority of the legislators who lost in the nominations and are now vying as independent candidates have decided to put more effort in campaigns.

“MPs have already started early campaigns but this was expected and it only happens once in five years, things will be back to normal after August,” said Mr Sakaja.

FOCUS ON CAMPAIGNS

Laikipia North MP Mathew Lempurkel said lawmakers should be left to focus on campaigns.

“Everybody is out there campaigning, we are just wasting time here,” said Mr Lempurkel.

Cord Minority Chief Whip Thomas Mwadeghu, however, said no House session had been adjourned due to lack of quorum.

“Although we have had a problem with the quorum, we have never adjourned,” he said.

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