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KQ probe spills into heated altercation between MPs and Senators

26 August 2015, 08:03 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The witnessed supremacy battles between the Senate and National Assembly seems far from ending after two Parliamentary committees from both Houses disagreed during probe over the financial woes facing Kenya Airways (KQ).

The National Assembly’s Transport committee accused the Senate Select committee that has been probing problems facing KQ of over-stepping its mandate and even asked the Acting Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia to ignore the Senate committee summon.

Macharia had been summoned by both House committees to appear before the National Assembly Transport committee chaired by Maina Kamanda (Starehe) thereafter proceed to the Senate committee chaired by Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu) to shed more light on KQ’s financial status and the government’s bail out mechanism.

However, Macharia defied a directive to ignore summons by the Senate committee summons and appeared before it.

MPs in the National Assembly Transport committee claimed that their Senate counterparts were interfering with their roles by conducting investigations on KQ yet it is under the national government’s management and not a devolved function for senators to oversight.

“We raised this matter in the House and the Speaker is to make a ruling on which Parliamentary committee should investigate the Kenya Airways issues. This committee is one in charge of probing into KQ problems and we don’t see any reason why the Cabinet secretary should go to senate to respond to similar questions raised,” said Kamanda.

Read Also: Kenya Airways to sell planes to ease debt crisis

“Do not appear before Senate committee until the Speaker rules on this matter and if asked why you didn’t go there, tell the Senate that this committee stopped you,” Kamanda told Macharia after the committee’s probe.

Kamanda pointed out that even if the Senate had taken over the KQ probe, it was mandatory for his committee to adopt the report thereafter tabled in the House for further adoption before the government moves into the rescue of the ailing company.   

However, the Nyong’o-led Senate Select committee hit back at the Kamanda’s committee citing the Constitution’s provision that grants powers to any Parliamentary committee in both Houses to summon any citizen and public officers including Cabinet Secretaries to respond to any questions under inquiry.

“The National Assembly members who asked the Cabinet Secretary to ignore the Senate invitation are acting out of ignorance and immaturity as if they don’t understand operations in a bicameral jurisdiction,” said Nyeri Senator, Mutahi Kagwe.

The Cabinet Secretary told both House committees that KQ plans to sell four of its “idle” aircrafts among the 10 bought by the airline’s management to increase its fleet in addition to ongoing negotiations between the government and a Chinese bank, Afri-Exim which is ready to commit a total of USD 200 million loan to bail out the company.

“KQ is in cash crisis and the government is doing all it can to bail it out. KQ’s management board lacked business plan in purchasing 10 expensive aircrafts with limited customers without having a plan B in case plan A fails,” said Macharia.

“Investigations are ongoing and we have been asking the board tough questions to establish if there was fraudulent management of KQ accounts and sanctions will be taken to any officer found responsible,” added.

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