Bill seeking to sack EACC bosses puts Uhuru, MPs on fresh collision course

By: PETER LEFTIE

MPs are headed for another confrontation with the Executive after it emerged that President Uhuru Kenyatta will not sign a Bill seeking to sack anti-graft agency bosses.

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, who moved the controversial amendment proposing the dismissal of Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chief Executive Halakhe Waqo and his Deputy Michael Mubea, said he will petition the National Assembly Speaker over the President’s reluctance to assent to or reject the Bill when the House reconvenes on Tuesday.

“The President has a mandate under the Constitution to assent or refuse.

“I call upon him to exercise that mandate within 14 days and send it to Parliament, which will exercise its mandate and look at his objections if he rejects it,” said Mr Wamalwa.

“This is an unnecessary delay. If there is no action on the Bill by Tuesday next week, I will ask the Speaker to comment on it because the law is very clear,” he added.

The Nation Friday learnt that the Bill was yet to be handed over to President Kenyatta, almost a month after it was passed by MPs.

But highly placed sources in government told the Nation that the President will not assent to the Bill as he feels it undermines the fight against corruption.

“That will not happen, take it from me. What will happen is that there will be fresh proposals on how to go about the issue because the fight against corruption must not be derailed,” one of the sources said.

SENIOR POLITICIAN

Another senior politician in the Jubilee government said as much, noting that the Bill would be returned to Parliament “shortly” with fresh proposals.

“We will ask MPs to consider the Bill afresh, taking into regard the new proposals,” he said.

The National Assembly voted 70-39 to send Mr Waqo and Mr Mubea packing.

Mr Wamalwa rallied 70 MPs to endorse his amendment to a Bill sponsored by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee originally aimed at increasing the number of commissioners and making them serve part-time.

President Kenyatta has on two separate occasions sent out strong signals that he may not assent to the Bill as he feels it may undermine the war on graft.

Addressing journalists at State House ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya last week, President Kenyatta said he was yet to receive the Bill from Parliament.

“When that Bill comes to us, we will sit down and review it as a government and respond accordingly,” he said in response to a question put to him by a journalist.

And in a statement by his spokesperson Manoah Esipisu two days after Parliament voted to send Mr Waqo and Mr Mubea home on July 9, President Kenyatta said he would “apply his mind” to the changes MPs wanted made at the anti-corruption agency.

“Parliament has not yet transmitted the instruments to the President for his assent,” Mr Esipisu stated.

But when they do, he said, the Head of State would give the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2015 careful consideration, “as is customary.”

Careful consideration, he said, because the amendments, if assented to, would see the chief executive officer of the commission and his deputy removed from office.

SPEAKER EXPRESSED MISGIVINGS

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has also expressed misgivings about the Bill, saying some clauses were unconstitutional.

The Office of the Ombudsman, through Chairman Otiende Amollo, has already asked the President not to assent to the amendments, arguing that they would only weaken the anti-graft body.

Mr Wamalwa said he was concerned that the EACC had resorted to intimidating MPs who supported the amendment by initiating investigations into the management of the Constituency Development Fund in their constituencies.

Mr Wamalwa last week told parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that EACC detectives had visited his constituency to probe the management of the CDF.

But in a quick rejoinder, Mr Waqo dismissed Mr Wamalwa’s claims as “malicious and unfounded” and denied that the agency was investigating the Kiminini CDF kitty.

He said Mr Wamalwa’s claims were aimed at intimidating the EACC in order to stop it from discharging its mandate and warned that his team will not be cowed.