The National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale says Members of Parliament (MPs) appointed to the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) should, during their work, take into account the legislators’ welfare, which Mr Duale says was effectively thrown out of the window after an SRC review of the public servants’ salaries in July, 2017.
The Parliamentarians were debating on names of MPs proposed to the PSC, with a section of the NASA lawmakers, led by MPs from the Wiper arm of the coalition, voicing foul play in the list of the Opposition’s representatives to the PSC.
The PSC, which is chaired by the National Speaker, comprises three MPs from the ruling Party – Jubilee -, an equivalent number from the Opposition and selected members of public.
NASA had fronted names of Homa Bay Woman Rep Gladys Wanga (ODM), Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa (ODM) and Vihiga Senator George Khaniri (ANC) to the PSC. Other subsidiaries of the NASA coalition, led by Wiper Party, felt shortchanged by ANC and ODM.
Suna East MP Junet Mohamed accused Mr Duale of polarizing Wiper Party MPs against their ODM counterparts.
Mr Duale would defend himself, saying representatives to the PSC should be as inclusive as possible so that when there is need to push for the welfare of MPs, all parties in Parliament are represented. Mr Duale gave an example of the benefits and privileges, which members of the Eleventh Parliament enjoyed, but since the review of the public servants’ salaries structure, they “no longer enjoy”.
Outgoing Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) chairperson, Sarah Serem, while announcing a new pay structure for public servants in July, 2017, scrapped sitting and mileage allowance for MPs, a move, which she said, was aimed at cutting on the public wage bill.
Mr Duale said social and political activists accused them of greed in May, 2013, when they were lobbying for their welfare.
Protesters released a pig and about a dozen piglets outside Parliament in May 14, 2017 to show their anger at the then-newly elected MPs, who were demanding higher salaries. The animals licked blood spilled by a protester outside the parliamentary gates in Nairobi.
The demonstration, which was organised by civil society groups, was intended to portray the MPs as greedy.
The MPs were demanding a monthly salary of about Ksh1 million. The SRC had recommended that their salaries be pegged at around Ksh650, 000.
“The biggest pig during those protests had my name written on it,” said Mr Duale on the floor of the House on Thursday. “The men and women we are choosing to join the PSC must deliver on their mandate. They should ensure our welfare, as MPs, is well voiced out. We should also form a tribunal which can deliberate on the removal of these commissioners, when we, based on our own evaluation, deem them as ineffective,” added Mr Duale.
“This Commission is like any other Commission. If you put somebody here, you cannot remove him until you form a tribunal,” said the Garissa Township lawmaker.
The sharp divisions within the NASA camp saw the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi suspend the list of the PSC nominees, directing the Opposition coalition to agree among themselves on the names of MPs they’d want incorporated in the Commission.
Ruaraka MP T.J Kajwang had suggested that the motion be moved and MPs be allowed to debate on the names, instead of withdrawing the list from the floor of the House altogether.