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Citizen Weekly

Thursday, 26 February 2015

MPS TO REVANGE ON CDF RULING

Members of the National Assembly yesterday unanimously resolved to slash the budgetary allocation to the Judiciary, just a week after the High Court declared the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) unconstitutional.
The MPs now want to reallocate the Judiciary’s development vote to the Ministry of Lands and Housing, a move seen as designed to hit back following the CDF ruling last week. Meeting during an informal meeting (kamukunji), Members from across the political divide were unanimous that the Judiciary should be “punished” for allegedly failing to recognise Parliament and its role.
Under the current set-up, the Judiciary is allocated money to fund its development projects, which include construction of courts in far-flung areas and rehabilitation of existing ones. The mandate, if approved by the Budget and Appropriations Committee, would see the Judiciary having to seek funding from the Lands ministry, which itself is under-funded.
According to Kiharu MP Irungu Kang’ata, who was in attendance, MPs resolved to amend the Constitution by reviewing the contentious clauses as pointed out by the court in the judgement. Members were cautious on whether to support a referendum to entrench CDF in the Constitution for fear of rattling the Executive.
Jubilee-allied MPs were, in particular, not in support of the plebiscite way as they fear the Opposition could introduce this issue in the Okoa Kenya initiative and take the credit. In the meantime, the MPs will appeal against the court ruling as they prepare to make key law amendments to save the kitty.
“The decision to appeal against the ruling will be used to buy time as we prepare amendments to the Constitution,” a member told the People Daily. On Monday, lawmakers resolved to contribute between Sh50,000 and Sh100,000 each to hire top-notch lawyers to represent them in the appeal case.
Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, who led the more than 50 colleagues, said they will lodge the appeal before the weekend to secure a stay order. Yesterday, after holding a closed-door meeting with Leader of Majority Aden Duale, the MPs agreed to seek the services of lawyers Ochieng’ Oduol, Ahmednassir Abdullahi, George Oraro and Fred Ngatia on grounds of their extensive experience.
He said: “CDF is like an octopus whose tentacles are all over. That is why we are together in this fight. We are going to explore all the necessary amendments to ensure it is well-anchored in the Constitution.” Gumbo confirmed that MPs had agreed to mobilise all resources by offering contributions to ensure CDF is retained.
He said the 290 MPs representing single member constituencies were willing to contribute money to pay the lawyers. He also confirmed the MPs will hold a Speaker’s kamukunji to agree on the membership of a task force that will spearhead the process.
The task force, which will comprise eight members, four from each side, will agree on the exact amount of money each MP will contribute. Gumbo is expected to chair the task force alongside CDF committee chairman Moses Lessonet (Eldama Ravine).
“People here (MPs) are above average. This thing affects us all and if I was asked to contribute whatever amount, I am ready because we need good lawyers to sustain a good fight in court,” he said. Consequently, the MPs also agreed to fast-track amendments in law to ensure it conforms with the Constitution before end of May.
The amendment will be brought to the House in two months, in which MPs will reduce the publication period and give it priority. Gumbo said they will not allow the gains that have been made through the kitty to be swept away. He said MPs have agreed to deal with the issue in a bipartisan approach to ensure they win the case.
Cord leader Raila Odinga had proposed to have the aligning of the CDF in the Constitution included in the Okoa Kenya referendum initiative. “MPs are determined not to be divided along political lines. If we bring the issue of parties here it will collapse before it even starts.
We will just handle it in Parliament,” said Lessonet, adding that CDF was the best innovation in the world after the mobile phone money transfer idea. The High Court last Friday declared the CDF (Amendment) Act unconstitutional, but gave the government 12 months to make the necessary legal amendments, failure to which it will be nullified.
The ruling by the judges came after The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA) and the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance filed a petition challenging the constitutionality of the CDF Amendment Act , 2013.