MPs reduce punishment for errant House members

An MP will only be sent away from Parliament for a maximum 90 days under the Standing Orders for the next National Assembly.

This is after MPs approved the provision last Thursday.

This will replace the provision that saw Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi expelled from Parliament, and barred from its precincts for 11 months last year.

The changes were completed over the weekend by the Procedure and House Rules Committee at a meeting presided over by Speaker Justin Muturi and Clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai.

In the new rules, there are two types of offences — disorderly conduct and gross disorderly conduct — with sanctions ranging from suspension for a day to a maximum 28 days.

An MP will also be given an opportunity to appeal.

MPs who grab the Mace will be sent away from Parliament and its precincts for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 21 under the new rules.

The new rules appear to seek a balance between the rights of the electorate to have representatives in the National Assembly and the right of the Assembly to govern its members’ conduct.

The legality of the Assembly’s Standing Orders was tested on this account last year when Mr Wandayi was dragged out of the Chamber and then escorted out of the National Assembly precincts after he defied the Speaker’s orders to leave.

He was among Opposition MPs who interrupted the start of the State of the Nation address by the President.

Mr Wandayi was then suspended from Parliament for the rest of the session, which meant that he would have to stay away for 11 months, earning nothing but his salary and having to watch proceedings on television.

His suspension was lifted after four months.

He had been forced to go to the courts and was further frustrated after the court order he obtained was ignored and referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee, which recommended the lifting of his ban.

In other changes, the Opposition will now have a majority in the watchdog Public Accounts and Investments committees.

“We have actually made it clearer for the watchdog committees — Public Accounts and Public Investments.

“We have said that the majority of the membership shall be from the party not forming government, by one.

“The chairperson and the vice chair will be from the Minority and they will be now serving for one year,” Mr Muturi said.

The membership of committees was reduced from 29 to 17.

A committee chairman will not be a member of any other committee.

The Energy, Information and Communication Committee will also be split.

There will now be a committee to deal with energy matters alone and another to handle communications, ICT and innovation.

There will also be a committee to deal with finance and another to deal with trade, industry and cooperatives matters.

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