MPs disagree with EACC over harambees
15 October 2014, 08:07
Nairobi – Members of the National Assembly have defended their harambee contributions to support various development projects in the country.
Reacting to a letter from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) addressed to National Assembly Speaker, Justin Muturi warning State officers from engaging in “public collections and harambees,” the MPs unanimously vowed to disobey the directive.
They argued that EACC’s warning to State officers against giving through fundraising is discriminatory by targeting the MPs while leaving out other public officers such as governors and senators, and that the ban undermines the existing African spirit supporting those in need.
The EACC letter to the House read, “The Commission has observed with a lot of concern that some Members of the National Assembly continuously engage in public collections in blatant disregard of the legal provisions governing public collections and harambees.”
“Whereas the Commission appreciates the gesture directed towards supporting worthy causes, the activities by such members is in violation of the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012 and the Public Officer Ethics Act, 2003. We have received reports that some Members of Parliament are indeed soliciting contributions from State and government institutions, in total disregard of the above legal provisions,” went on the letter.
“The Purpose of this communication is to bring the above provisions to your notice and to request the Honorable Members of Parliament to respect the law and to warn that appropriate action will be preferred against those who violate the law,” the letter warned.
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The National Assembly Majority Leader, Aden Duale threw his weight behind the harambees arguing that the last Parliament only barred fundraising eight months to the elections and warned EACC to engage in serious issues of accountability of public officers.
“The law banned soliciting money from offices and that has not barred us from raising funds. We should not go and look for money or solicit. Some of us believe in giving to build mosques, madrasas, schools, hospitals and other projects. This is what the Koran and Bible say about giving and it shall be given to you,” said Duale.
The Minority Chief Whip, Thomas Mwadeghu also defended the harambees saying they have helped many needy children raising fees for their education and that any attempt to stop the MPs from providing such support is uncalled for.
“The Kiminini MP, Chris Wamalwa who is seated next to me pursued his education through harambee in addition to most MPs in this House. Next weekend the President will be in my constituency to give towards some projects and I will be happy to be arrested with him for helping my constituents,” said Mwadeghu.
He added that it is through the fundraising that some family members raise funds for funeral arrangements of their deceased family members and friends, and challenged EACC that they will not hesitate to in supporting their constituents whenever there is need.
Tiaty MP, Asman Kamama, said there is no way harambees can be banned because they are part and parcel of livelihood of citizens seeking for support in time of dire need.
“The country’s Court of Arms is embossed with the word ‘Harambee’ which fosters the African spirit of giving. This spirit of giving through harambees cannot be stopped to kill our African spirit to adopt other ways since we are not Europeans,” said Kamama.
Homa Bay County MP, Gladys Wanga supported the fundraising and advised EACC to ensure it only comes in where the purpose of harambees are violated by individuals soliciting for money for self gains.
“The Anti-corruption Commission should intervene in event of corruption through soliciting of money from the public in the name of harambee by some people but not attempting to stop the entire fundraising that seeks promote development,” said Wanga.
The MPs were contributing during the debate session in Parliament after it resumed from recess.
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