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Kenya’s MPs to name only 1 wife in new medical scheme

Budalang’i MP-elect Raphael Wanjala said it is unfair of Parliament to cater for one spouse in the medical insurance. Photo: Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Elected MPs with large families or more than one spouse will have to bear the brunt of the austerity measures introduced by the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC).

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Unlike in the past, the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) medical scheme now covers only the MP or senator and a maximum of five dependants.

According to the scheme seen by The Standard, family members covered include one spouse and four children aged under 25 years who are dependent on the legislator.

The introduction of a clause on a single spouse was a rude shock for Budalang’i MP-elect Raphael Wanjala (right), who is making a come-back after 10-year hiatus.

The MP, who has more than one wife, expressed disappointment with the requirement, which he said was not there in the 8th and 9th parliaments.

“What will some of us with more than one wife do? It is unfair of Parliament to cater for one spouse in the medical insurance for MPs. It should have remained as it was in the past, when we were allowed to give the details of two wives and five children,” said Mr Wanjala.

Despite the restriction, the MP, who beat Ababu Namwamba in the elections, went ahead to include the names of two wives in the medical form.

John Waluke (Sirisia MP) and Fred Kapondi (Mt Elgon) empathised with Wanjala and said the condition could end up splitting families where there was more than one wife.

“It is not fair to have a medical insurance scheme that covers only one spouse when it is a known fact that most legislators are polygamous. This is tantamount to breaking up families,” said Mr Waluke.

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Mr Kapondi, who is returning to Parliament after five years, noted that the conditions were hard for newcomers to the National Assembly, but added that they would have to comply.

“In the 9th Parliament, where I was a member, the medical scheme in the National Assembly covered two spouses. MPs with more than one wife will have to adapt to the new changes as we have no choice,” he said.

“Family is the fundamental unit of society. It is not only discriminatory but unlawful to discriminate against some family members. One person’s spouses and children should be covered by the medical scheme,” said a vocal MP from Nyanza who is also a lawyer and who did not wish to be named.

Planning families

He said imposing restrictions on the medical cover for MPs was tantamount to planning families for them, adding that PSC should communicate with SRC to reverse the clause.

Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye, who is also the PSC secretary, yesterday told The Standard that the clause on the cover for spouses came into effect after the enactment of the new constitution.

According to Mr Nyegenye, MPs and senators are entitled to benefits of Sh10 million per family per year for in-patient services, Sh300,000 for outpatient and Sh150,000 for maternity care per family.

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“It is true, it was not there before the enactment of the 2010 Constitution. The medical scheme is the prerogative of the PSC, which set the terms and conditions that are currently in effect,” said Nyegenye.

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