Director of Immigration Gordon Kihalangwa has denied claims that MPs have been asked to produce travel clearances at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport whenever they are travelling out of the country.
Mr Kihalangwa, in a letter to National Assembly Clerk Mr Michael Sialai said his office is cognizant of the separation of powers between the three arms of the government and at no time has his officers delayed MPs for lacking clearances.
“I want to confirm that that at no one given time has any member of the National Assembly been asked for clearance by immigration officers at any point of departure or at our border posts. This is an area to be understood by Honourable members,” Mr Kihalangwa said in the October 2 letter to Mr Sialai.
He however said other members of staff of the National Assembly travelling abroad will be expected to produce travel clearances signed by Mr Sialai.
The letter from the Immigration boss is in response to Mr Sialai, who questioned the requirement that MPs produce “approvals” whether on private or official trips outside the country.
“Our attention has been drawn to concerns by members of the National Assembly that in some instances, they have been asked to at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while traveling outside the country,” Mr Sialai told Mr Kihalangwa in the September 27, 2017 letter.
Mr Sialai said his letter to the Immigration boss was triggered by complaints from members.
“The members were never stopped from travelling. Their concerns rose from the fact that they were being delayed for lack of the clearances. But the matter has since been settled,” Mr Sialai said on Friday.
He did not provide the names of the affected MPs.
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.
House rules provide that a member seeking to be absent from sitting of the House shall seek the written permission of the Speaker stating the period of absence, the reasons and any other relevant information.
The rules also require members intending to travel outside Kenya, whether in an official or a private capacity, to give the Speaker a written notice indicating area of visit, dates of travel, period of absence and contact details.
“This information is purely for welfare purposes because our members have had issues before or have become unwell while outside the country and it’s only important that their families get to know their status,” Mr Sialai said.
On Thursday last week, Nasa principal Mr Kalonzo Musyoka claimed that he was temporarily blocked from traveling to Uganda for a graduation ceremony at Uganda Technology and Management University, where he is the chancellor.
Mr Kalonzo said he was delayed because he did not have “clearance from statehouse”, a claim that the Immigration department denied.
Mr Kinyua’s directive on September 13 indicated that no government official can travel outside the country without clearance from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The civil servants affected include Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries, ministry officers and chief executives of parastatals as well as their board directors.