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Debate on corruption in House committees generates heat

05 March 2015, 10:19 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – There was a heated debate in the National Assembly over alleged corruption by MPs in House committees in a bid to protect certain CEOs in government departments implicated with management irregularities.

Majority Leader, Aden Duale who took to the floor to offer some recommendations said there is need for MPs to adhere to Parliament’s integrity, principles and accorded privileges.

Duale said the reported claims of corruption particularly in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) derail the honor accorded to the supreme House that plays crucial mandates of legislation and oversight to ensure there is accountability in all government departments in utilization of public funds.

“We are alive to recent allegation and counter-allegations of sleaze, distortion and dishonesty made by Members of the Public Accounts Committee against each other. Whilst these allegations remain just allegations until substantiation is provided, it is my view that we cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand as if nothing happened,” said Duale.

“These allegations threaten the very foundation upon which Parliament is mandated to offer oversight on other institutions,” he added.

Read Also: Ababu blames Jubilee MPs for impeachment woes

The Deputy Minority Party leader, Jakoyo Midiwo condemned corruption in House committees and warned MPs against abusing privileges accorded to them as leaders.

“Corruption is trying to find room among us and we cannot allow it. There is a call for destruction of this House by Al-Shabaab when the session starts because peoples’ negative reactions on social media from reported corruptions implies we are not worthy to live among them,” said Midiwo.

He warned that the House’s integrity will be derailed if no immediate action is taken especially by investigating the allegations and counter-allegations and bring to book the responsible MP to curb the vice and redeem Parliament’s honorable image.

“We will go down if nothing is done in House Business Committee. We need to deal with the issue of composition of committees. Watchdog committees should be held by the opposition’s top leadership in the House and not just members as done in most developed countries to ensure there is accountability,” said Midiwo.

There are allegations that some committee chairs after realizing that there are corruption incidents in certain government departments, they approach the CEO’s, ask for bribes to share with members and manipulate the investigation findings before tabling the report in Parliament for adoption.

“There is no clear dispute resolution mechanism in committees. We feel offended when a committee member takes bribe on our behalf and tarnishes the image of all of us,” said the Kajiado North MP, Joseph Manje who is also a PAC member.

Kamukinji MP, Yussuf Hassan proposed for the withdrawal of all privileges provided to MPs so they can be held accountable by the anti-corruption commissions like any other public officers if they fail in the fight against corruption among themselves.

“In the public eyes, we are now perceived as corrupt people and we need to redeem our name. There is need to reshuffle these committees and work with existing government departments,” said Hassan.

The National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Joyce Laboso challenged the MPs to keep high levels of integrity and accountability holding that the public do not see a corrupt MP but a corrupt House.

PAC’s chair, Ababu Namwamba defended his committee against corruption allegations and maintained that it was a political witch-hunt both from his Orange Democratic Movement party now that he holds a powerful Secretary General position, and the rival ruling Jubilee coalition members attempting to undermine him from holding certain officers accountable.

“Communities, groups or a committee do not commit an offense and it is wrong to accuse the entire committee of corruption. There is no Standing Order for disbandment of any House committee but thorough investigations should be done to identify culpable and responsible individual member,” said Namwamba.

Upon a request by Duale to find ways of redeeming the tainted image of the committees and membership, the National Assembly Speaker, Justin Muturi assured that the ruling on the issue will be made Thursday during the afternoon session.  

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