Speaker Lusaka to punish senators for battling in the parliament
The anti-graft agency has asked Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka to take stern action against the two nominated women senators who exchanged blows, kicked and tore each other's clothes in Parliament last week.
Beatrice Kwamboka and Mary Seneta went at it and one went for the other's throat. The reason was the controversial election of Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina as Health committee vice chair.
In a letter to the speaker dated July 2, the Commission on Integrity and Anti-Bribery urged him to punish the lawmakers for violating the integrity and ethical requirements governing the conduct of state officers.
EACC Chief Executive Office Twalib Mbarak said the senators' conduct constitutes a breach of the Constitution, the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012, the Public Ethics Act, 2003 and the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, 2017.
Last Saturday, Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang'ata disclosed to the Star that the Senate leadership was investigating the circumstances that led to the fistfight between the ODM and Jubilee senators.
“The matter is under investigation to ascertain facts. So far, we have conflicting information on what really transpired,” Kang'ata told the Star.
Twalib wrote to Lusaka, requesting him to enquire into the conduct of the two senators with a view to taking appropriate action. He cited Section 15 (5) of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, 2017, Rule 12 of the Conduct for Members of Parliament and the relevant Standing Orders of the House.
"The committee was attracted to reporting on an accident, both in print and in online media that happened within the precincts of the Senate on July 1, 2020, where senators Beatrice Kwamboka and Mary Seneta are alleged to have differed over the election of Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina as deputy chairperson of the Senate Health Committee.
The CEO said the allegations constitute serious ethical issues and would amount to a serious breach of the integrity and ethical requirements of the State officials' actions.
“The commission wishes to particularly draw your attention to the provisions of the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012, which binds state officers to carry out their duties in a manner that maintains public confidence in the integrity of their respective offices,” he added.
The Committee on Powers and Privileges is required within 14 days to enquire into the conduct of a member whose conduct has been the cause of a complaint.
The Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act provides a robust mechanism of dealing with lawmakers who engage in such actions as did the two besides the precedent set by many rulings delivered by the office of the speaker since independence.
The Senate also has the Powers and Privileges committee which is chaired by the speaker which the Nation has learnt and has already taken up the matter.
In a letter to Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak said the fight between the two lawmakers had desecrated the institution of Parliament, violated the Constitution and the Leadership of Honor Act. “The act by the two is not in tandem with the national values and the provisions of the Leadership and Integrity Act,” Mr. Mbarak said.
A senator who talked to the Nation Tuesday dismissed Mr. Mbarak’s letter as a waste of time arguing that the Senate has its own mechanism of dealing with members who act in a disorderly way.
The committee had convened to elect its leadership after the recent changes brought about by the purge in the ruling Jubilee Party, which saw allies of Deputy President William Ruto kicked out.
Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito had retained the chairmanship before chaos rocked the election of his vice, leading to cancellation of the process.
Kisumu Senator Fred Outa had proposed Narok Senator Ladema ole Kina as the vice chairperson in line with the newfound working relationship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Apparently, the two sides have agreed to work together as part of their effort to cement the deal between the two leaders who were bitters foes during the 2017 presidential poll.
Things turned nasty when Deputy Majority Whip Farhiya Ali showed up, carrying a proxy vote on behalf of nominated Senator Beth Mugo.
Ms. Mugo has been operating from home in line with Health ministry’s directive that employees aged 58 years work from home because they are vulnerable to Covid-19 pandemic.
Senate rules also empower a whip to nominate a member to vote for another in such situations where such a member cannot appear.
Ms. Ali first appeared with letter of authority to vote on behalf of Ms. Mugo.
After she was allowed she also moved out and received a call and declared the desire to vote for nominated Senator Millicent Omanga, who is also a member of the committee but was absent.
Ms. Ali not only proposed Ms. Seneta to contest for the same seat, but her claim to hold a proxy vote for Ms. Omanga triggered a storm that saw the committee degenerate into chaos.
Kwamboka took issue with Ali’s conduct, accusing the whip of bringing fraud in the committee.
In any, case, she argued, the whip’s decision to front Ms. Seneta to take on Mr. Ole Kina was against the spirit of the handshake between Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga.
Things got out of hand after Ms Omanga, who is awaiting the outcome of her disciplinary case with Jubilee Party, disassociated herself with Ms. Ali as she was supporting Mr. Ole Kina.
After the chair cancelled the election and adjourned the sitting, the war between the two senators spiraled out of the election room as the lawmakers hurled unprintable words at each other.
"I am in the leadership and you cannot tell me anything,” Ms. Kwamboka was overheard telling her colleague
“I am a Raila person and I will deal with you.”
In anger, Ms. Seneta hit Ms. Kwamboka with her bag.
Not ready to take it lying down, Ms. Kwamboka returned fire, hitting Ms. Seneta with her bag and going for her neck as the two started a fist fight.
Moments later, the orderlies stepped in and separated the two leaders who brought dishonor to the hallowed August House.