• The report compiled by the National Assembly’s 29 committees showed that 10 legislators skipped all committee meetings last year.
• Committees are the nerve of Parliament as the bulk of House work is transacted there before they are escalated to the floor for debate and adoption.
More than 50 MPs, some of them in National Assembly leadership positions skipped most or all of their committee meetings, according to a new report.
The report compiled by the National Assembly’s 29 committees showed that 10 legislators skipped all committee meetings between February and October last year.
Others attended once, twice or three times in the period, with the majority appearing in less than half of their parliamentary committee sittings.
House leaders Junet Mohamed (Minority Chief Whip), Aisha Jumwa and Adan Keynan, who both sit in the Parliamentary Service Commission, were named in the list of regular absentees.
Junet attended 19 out of the 97 meetings of the Public Accounts and Investments Committee. He skipped the two panels scheduled by the Selection Committee which places members in House committees.
Jumwa skipped all the 49 meetings of the Members Services and Facilities Committee, while Keynan attended only four of the 42 meetings of the National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity Committee.
The report that shines the spotlight on the MPs — some of the best paid in the world — was tabled in the chamber by Majority leader Amos Kimunya.
Committees are considered the nerve of Parliament as the bulk of the House work is transacted there before they are escalated to the floor for debate and adoption.
Last Wednesday, the House leadership reshuffled various House committees following a purge of disloyal members in both Jubilee and Nasa affiliates.
Kimunya said members’ attendance and commitment to the committees informed the reorganisation of the panels.
“We must take cognisant of the poor attendance of members. We cannot continue burdening the other members with some who do not attend,” he said.
The report shows that the committees held between two and 97 meetings during the period under review.
The Selection Committee's two meetings were the least, while the Public Accounts Committee's 97 the highest.
Besides Jumwa, those who did not attend any meeting were Ruaraka’s TJ Kajwang and his Makadara counterpart George Aladwa.
Kajwang did not attend any of the 36 meetings of the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee last year, while Aladwa skipped all the 74 meetings of the Lands Committee.
Aladwa was also named in a recent report by the parliamentary watchdog Mzalendo Trust among MPs who said nothing in plenary for the whole of 2019.
Others who did not attend a single meeting, according to the clerks were Rose Museo (Makueni), Abdi Tepo (Isiolo South), Alexander Kosgei (Emgwen), Christopher Nakuleu (Turkana North), Alfred Sambu (Webuye East), Enoch Kibuguchi (Likuyani) and Maison Leshoomo (Samburu).
Their committees held between 26 and 97 meetings during the period.
Museo snubbed all the 53 meetings of the Labour and Social Welfare Committee and 42 sessions of the National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity Committee.
Similarly, MP Tepo skipped all the 37 meetings of the Special Funds Accounts Committee and the 52 meetings of the Delegated Legislation Committee.
MP Kosgei did not attend 20 meetings of the Trade, Tourism and Cooperatives Committee as Nakuleu skipped all the 33 meetings held by Regional Integration Committee.
Webuye East's Sambu failed to show up for all the 52 meetings of the Delegated Legislation. Sambu, like Aladwa, was named among the poorest performing in plenary in the Mzalendo Trust report.
Kibuguchi and Leshoomo did not attend all the 42 meetings of the National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity Committee.
In addition, MPs Khatib Mwashetani (Lunga Lunga), Beatrice Nyaga (Tharaka Nithi), William Chepkut (Ainabkoi), Florence Mutua (Busia), Nicholas Mwale (Butere) and Ahmed Ibrahim (Wajir North) also avoided the two meetings of Selection Committee.
According to the National Assembly Standing Orders, each of the 349 members is entitled to sit in at least one committee.
If a member fails to attend four consecutive sessions of the committee without written permission from the chairperson or the speaker, the MP shall be replaced.
Kimunya warned that the House leadership would strictly follow the Standing Orders to ensure members attend the meetings.
“Members have been holding chairmen at ransom that if they report them, they will impeach them from the committees,” he said.
I will now take over that responsibility. I will monitor to ensure if members do not attend four meetings consecutively, they are de-whipped. We already have the temp,” he added.
An MP is entitled to Sh5,000 allowance per session with chairperson and vice-chairperson taking home Sh10,000 and Sh8,000 per sitting.
Others lawmakers with a poor record of attending the committee meetings include the vocal Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, Soipan Tuya (Narok), Johana Ngeno (Emurua Dikirr) and Naomi Shaban (Taveta).
The voluble Sudi only attended two of the 54 meetings of Energy Committee. Tuyo was seen in only two of the 75 meetings of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) while Shaban only attended one meeting of the CIOC.
MP Ngeno attended only one of the 75 JLAC meetings and only two of the 22 meetings held by the National Government- Constituency Development Fund Committee.
Gure Mohamed (Garissa) attended three out of 36 meetings of Parliamentary Broadcasting and Library; Lilian Tomitom (West Pokot) attended three out of 54 Education committee meetings; and Florence Mutua (Busia) was only in three of the 55 meetings of the Security committee.
Ekomwa Lomenen (Turkana South) and Jane Chabaibai (Elgeyo Marakwet) sat in four and nine respectively of the 42 meetings of the Cohesion committee.
Zuleikha Juma (Kwale), Mwaniki Wangari (Kigumo) and Lilian Achieng (Rangwe) were in seven, eight and eight meetings of the Parliamentary Broadcasting and Library’s 36 meetings.
Kisumu Woman Representative Rosa Buyu attended only four meetings of the Regional Integration committee and 18 out of 75 meetings of the Environment committee held in the year.
Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) and Wilson Sossion —nominated to represent the interest of workers — only attended eight and 19 of the 53 meetings of the Labour and Social Welfare Committee.
Ugenya’s David Ochieng and Sabatia’s Wilfred Agoi were seen in only eight and nine of the 55 meetings of the Health Committee respectively.
MPs Alexander Kosgei, Gideon Konchela, Daniel Maazo, James Mukwe, Kimani Patrick Wainaina and Nixon Korir attended less than half of the Trade, Tourism and Cooperative’s 20 meetings.
The report listed the Budget and Appropriations Committee as one whose meetings were well attended during the year.
Of the 47 meetings held during the year, only one – Moses Kuria (Gatundu) did not attend at least half. Kuria attended 18 sessions.
Some of the best committee attendees are Peter Kaluma who attended 49 out of the 65 meetings of the National Security Committee and Richard Tongi (Nyaribari Chache) who attended 55 out of 61 meetings of Defence Committee.
Others are Erick Njiru (Runyenjes) who sat in 48 out of 54 sessions of Education Committee and George Murugara (Tharaka) who attended 71 out of 75 meetings of JLAC.
(edited by o. owino)